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Police at the Arndale as huge queues form on first day of non-essential shops reopening

Are you heading out to the shops today?

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N Chadwick / Geograph

Today, Monday April 12th, sees stage two of the government’s roadmap out of lockdown come into effect.

As part of this second stage, pubs, bars and restaurants can reopen for outdoor drinking and dining, while places like gyms, salons and hairdressers can also welcome people back.

Non-essential retail can also throw open its doors once again, meaning shops in places like the city centre, Arndale and Trafford Centre can reopen from today.

Huge queues have been forming as people are keen to return to shops after lockdown, with large gatherings of people spotted at the Arndale.

Photos and videos have been posted to social media showing people trying to get in the shopping centre from Market Street, with the Arndale opening at 8am today.

Sean Hansford posted a video to Twitter showing a large group being dispersed from the entrance to the Arndale, with very little social distancing happening.

A security guard asks them to move away and to social distance, but the group initially just congregates nearby.

Later videos show a more orderly queue going down Market Street after Covid marshals managed to organise shoppers, with police also spotted assisting with the queues.

Large queues were also spotted at Primark over at the Trafford Centre, as the popular budget retailer reopened its doors.

Will you be heading out shopping today, or are you waiting until things calm down a bit?

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Once-in-a-lifetime ‘Mother of Dragons’ green comet set to be visible in UK skies tonight

Don’t forget to look up tonight!

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Brandon Ghany & Joseph Morgan / Flickr

A huge green comet dubbed the ‘Mother of Dragons’ is set to be visible in UK skies tonight, and here’s how you can see it.

A green giant – not the sweetcorn kind – is currently visible in the sky over the northern hemisphere, and this spectacular glowing rock can be seen shooting past us this evening (April 4th).

There’s a lot of cosmic goings on in the skies at the moment as North America prepares to witness a solar eclipse next week, plunging it into darkness for a moment.

Brandon Ghany / Horizon / Flickr

Unfortunately, us Brits won’t be able to witness that one but the Mother of Dragons comet will certainly be an extraordinary spectacle to witness, and will look a bit like the Green Goblin is zooming past us high up in the sky.

Comet 12P/Pons-Brooks has a nucleus approximately 10.5 miles (17 kilometres) wide – about the size of a city – and is thought to be bright enough to see with the naked eye, although astronomers advise using binoculars to get the best views.

The comet will be visible for the first time since 1954 and only passes by every 71 years.

Mike Lewinski / Flickr

It has been given its nickname because ESA researchers believe it is the parent body of the kappa-Draconids meteor shower, and of course it’s a cool pop-culture reference to Game of Thrones.

The comet also used to appear to have a pair of horns but they have gone now.

It is comprised of ice, dust and rock and looks green due to the presence of diatomic carbon molecules, which emit emerald-coloured light when illuminated by the sun. 

Joseph Morgan / Flickr

Comet 12P/Pons-Brooks is referred to as explosive due to its volatile activity as it is known for its spectacular outbursts of gas and dust.

The comet will reach its closest point to Earth in June 2024. However, by this time, it won’t be possible to observe the comet from the northern hemisphere. Late March and early April will offer the best opportunities.

If you’re an avid stargazer, astronomer in the making or would just like a chance to see this magnificent ancient rock light up the night sky, you will need to head out to higher ground away from light pollution where possible. Clear skies are best and binoculars may help you get the best views of this cosmic marvel.

Ken_Lord / Flickr

Gregory Brown, an astronomer at the Royal Observatory Greenwich, told the MailOnline: “The comet can now be found in the constellation of Aries which is visible in the early evening, over in the west.

“It will only become visible after twilight and sets by around 10pm BST. 

“While it may be possible to see with the unaided eye, it is best to try and observe with a pair of binoculars or a small telescope.”

Comet 12P/Pons-Brooks won’t be returning to our night skies until 2095, so make sure not to miss out on this one!

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Manchester set to be hotter than Los Angeles on the weekend

We’re getting a mini heatwave!

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Dunk / Flickr & Gerald England / Geograph

The rain may seem relentless but brighter days are coming for Manchester as the city is set to get hotter than Los Angeles later this week.

This rainy metropolis will enjoy a little break from the April showers as a mini heatwave is coming to kick start beer garden season.

So, dig out your shorts and leave your jacket at home as temperatures begin to soar from Friday afternoon, reaching 18C on Saturday – which will be hotter than LA in the Golden State of California.

Gerald England / Geograph

As Friday afternoon (April 5th) approaches, the sun will make an appearance between any breaks in the clouds and temperatures will peak at 16C, according to BBC Weather. 

And with sunset not until 7.52pm, there will be just enough time to visit a pub garden and enjoy a couple of mojitos to get you in the mood for the weekend.

On Saturday April 6th, Manchester will start off cloudy but into the late morning temperatures will begin to rise and Mancunians will get to enjoy sunny intervals with temperatures reaching highs of 18C, as meteorologists predict ‘above average’ conditions for this time of year.

Dunk / Flickr

However, the rollerbladers on Venice Beach will only experience temperatures of 15C. But while Los Angeles might be a little cooler than Manchester, it will still remain sunny while Mancs will have to put up with the odd shower here and there. 

The Met Office’s outlook for Friday and Saturday reads: “Low pressure remaining dominant through this period, with further heavy showers and longer spells of rain. 

“Turning increasingly windy too, though temperatures above average for the time of year.”

David Dixon / Geograph

Now, we know it won’t be perfect weather but it will make a nice change from the constant freezing temperatures we’ve been having. A nice spell of warmth and sunshine on the weekend isn’t too shabby afterall.

No doubt we’ll all be flocking to our nearest beaches, nature spots and having a BBQ this weekend!

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Greater Manchester dominates top ten UK Vaping Capitals, according to research

Four Greater Manchester areas made the top 10 list of vaping hotspots

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Dunk / Flickr & VAPES / Flickr

Greater Manchester dominates the list of Vaping Capitals of the UK, according to new research.

Wherever you go, you don’t have to walk far before you enter a sweet-smelling hazy cloud of vapour and feel as if you’re a contestant on Stars In Their Eyes.

Young people are vaping on the tram, your mate can barely construct a sentence without inhaling some of the battery-powered, synthetic cherry flavoured smoke, and every other stranger on the street is blowing out a cloud big enough to conceal an aircraft.

Replacing the old habit of cigarette smoking, it now seems as if vaping is taking over just about everywhere.

Dunk / Flickr

Online vape store Go Smoke Free, used GOV.UK’s Companies House advanced search feature to find businesses registered for the retail sale of tobacco products in specialised stores in the UK. 

It then compared the number of these active businesses to each town or city’s population size to construct a list of the top 10 UK Vaping Capitals.

Unfortunately, Greater Manchester dominates the list of the UK’s Vaping Capitals with four areas named.

VAPES / Flickr

According to the research, Blackburn is ranked as the UK’s vaping capital, with 27 registered vape retailers serving its population of 119,707 residents. When accounting for population size, this equates to 22.56 vape shops per 100,000 residents – the largest figure for any UK town or city.

Second on the list is Bolton in Greater Manchester, with 20.26 vape shops registered per 100,000 residents in the town. Bolton has 41 registered vape shops in total serving its 202,369 residents.

Manchester ranks third, with 110 vape shops in total. However, the city’s larger population ensures this works out to 19.84 registered vape retailers per 100,000 residents.

Vaping360 / Flickr

Further down the list, Middlesbrough ranks fourth. Located in North Yorkshire, Middlesbrough has 12.43 vape shops per 100,000 residents. The town has 22 registered vape shops serving its 176,991 residents.

Rounding out the top five is Salford in Greater Manchester, which has a total of 14 registered vape shops, equivalent to 12.03 shops per 100,000 residents.

And Stockport ranks sixth, with 10.91 vape retailers per 100,000 residents.

A spokesperson for Go Smoke Free said: “Disposable vapes have gained popularity in recent years, due to their convenience, portability and low cost, which has made them an attractive option for those who would otherwise have been unlikely to invest in a more complex vaping setup.”

VAPES / Flickr

They continued: “The new disposable vape ban should help to discourage children from taking up vaping, while encouraging adults to shift to more sustainable alternatives, such as refillable vapes.

“This study highlights which areas of the UK are most likely to be affected by the upcoming ban on selling disposable vapes. The Greater Manchester area boasts its fair share of stores catering to vapers’ needs, with Blackburn, Bolton and the city of Manchester claiming the top three spots.

“These cities could see a significant shift in their vaping culture, with the ban impacting consumer behaviour, and existing vape retailers adapting their offerings to cater to the new legislation.”

Peter Grznár / Wikimedia

The list of vaping capital of the UK, according to Go Smoke Free, is as follows:

  1. Blackburn 
  2. Bolton
  3. Manchester
  4. Middlesborough
  5. Salford 
  6. Stockport 
  7. Doncaster
  8. Newport
  9. Peterborough
  10. Nottingham

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