Astronaut Buzz Aldrin rolls out the red carpet for Mars

Mars-NASA and The Hubble Heritage Team/Courtesy

Mars-NASA and The Hubble Heritage Team/Courtesy

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) – Forty-eight years after he landed on the moon, Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin on Saturday rolled out a red carpet for the red planet at a star-studded gala at the Kennedy Space Center.

Aldrin, 87, commemorated the upcoming anniversary of the 1969 mission to the moon under a historic Saturn V rocket and raised more than $190,000 for his nonprofit space education foundation, ShareSpace Foundation . Aldrin believes people will be able to land on Mars by 2040, a goal that NASA shares. The space agency is developing the Space Launch System and the Orion spacecraft to send Americans to deep space.

Apollo astronauts Walt Cunningham, Michael Collins and Harrison “Jack” Schmitt joined Aldrin, one of 12 people to walk on the moon, at the sold-out fundraiser.

“I like to think of myself as an innovative futurist,” Aldrin told a crowd of nearly 400 people in the Apollo/Saturn V Center. “The programs we have right now are eating up every piece of the budget and it has to be reduced if we’re ever going to get anywhere.”

During the gala, the ShareSpace Foundation presented Jeff Bezos with the first Buzz Aldrin Space Innovation Award. Bezos, the founder of Amazon.com and the spaceflight company Blue Origin, is trying to bring the cost of space travel down by reusing rockets.

See video at:

See this? Doctors find 27 contact lenses in woman’s eye

LONDON (AP) – Doctors intending to perform cataract surgery on a 67-year-old woman in Britain found something rather unexpected: 17 contact lenses mashed together in her right eye.

In a case report published Monday in the journal BMJ, the doctors said that the woman had worn monthly disposable contact lenses for 35 years; she had “deep set eyes” and poorer vision in that eye, which they said might have contributed to a failure to remove some of the lenses.

The doctors said the 17 lenses were bound together by mucus. A further 10 were found by the surgeon using a microscope. Rupal Morjaria, a specialist trainee in ophthalmology, said the “large mass” would have caused quite a lot of irritation.

The patient had chalked it up to old age and dry eye, Morjaria said.

Timber rattlesnake caught lingering near Massachusetts home

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (AP) – Timber rattlesnakes are known to thrive in some rural areas of Massachusetts, but finding them in urban areas is almost unheard of.

That’s why state environmental police and animal control personnel were surprised to receive a report Sunday of a large rattler hanging around a Springfield home.

Animal Control Officer Daniel Simpson tells the Boston Herald the man was going to kill it with a shovel, but called authorities instead. The venomous snakes are protected in Massachusetts.

Simpson and state Environmental Police used a pillowcase and net to capture and relocate it about 14 miles way to Mount Tom in Holyoke.

He doubts the snake slithered its way to Springfield. He thinks it was a pet that either escaped or was released, or was dropped by a bird of prey.

6 cars stolen from driveways on same night in same town

GREENWICH, Conn. (AP) – Police say six cars were stolen from people’s driveways on the same night in the Connecticut town of Greenwich.

Police told the Greenwich Time all six cars were unlocked with the keys inside when they were taken from homes Saturday night.

Lt. Louis Pannone says “people need to be responsible.”

He says police are looking into whether Saturday’s thefts relate to other cars reported stolen across the state.

Forever’s gonna start tonight: Wedding set for total eclipse

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) – An astronomy buff and her fiance want to make sure nothing eclipses their Missouri wedding ceremony.

Samantha Adams tells The Kansas City Star that her longtime fascination with the stars prompted her to schedule the ceremony for 12:30 p.m. on Aug. 21 – during an extremely rare total solar eclipse.

“I couldn’t think of a more dreamlike wedding for myself,” said Adams, 28, who has a tattoo of the space probe Voyager on her left arm.

The couple’s entire ceremony in St. Joseph, Missouri, will have an eclipse theme and every guest will be provided with a pair of solar glasses. During the wedding, the couple plans to watch the eclipse with their guests before taking their vows.

Adams’ fiancé, Cameron Kuhn, 27, said he’s happy to go along with the eclipse wedding because it makes his bride happy.

Adams once dreamed of becoming an astronaut, but multiple knee surgeries forced her to take a different path. She lives in Overland Park, Kansas and has a master’s degree in industrial education.

The couple grew up in Platte City, Missouri, a grade apart in school before they started dating while attending the University of Western Missouri.

‘Curious’ baboon knocks out power to Zambian tourist town

JOHANNESBURG (AP) – A baboon in Zambia has interfered with machinery at a power station in a tourist town near Victoria Falls and knocked out power to tens of thousands of people for several hours.