Archive for the astronomy Category

A solar superstorm can make your lights go out. New maps released by the USGS show where the power is most likely to fail in the US

Posted in 2020, astronomy, science with tags , , , , , , , on April 9, 2020 by theboldcorsicanflame

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A solar superstorm can make your lights go out. New maps released by the USGS show where the power is most likely to fail: The Denver metropolitan area, the Pacific northwest, the Atlantic seaboard, and a cluster of Midwestern states near the US-Canadian Border.

Bright yellow and orange trace the trouble spots across the contiguous USA

Power companies have long been wary of the sun. Solar storms can cause strong electric currents to flow through commercial power lines–so strong that the lines can’t handle it.

Fuses blow, transformers melt, and circuit breakers trip. The most famous geomagnetic power outage happened during a space storm in March 1989 when six million people in Quebec lost power for 9 hours.

Whether or not *your* power goes out during a solar storm depends on two things: (1) The configuration of power lines in your area and (2) the electrical properties of the ground beneath your feet.

In areas of more electrically resistive rock, currents struggle to flow through the ground. Instead, they leap up into overhead power lines – a scenario that played out in Quebec in 1989.

The new maps are possible thanks to Earthscope–a National Science Foundation magnetotelluric survey of the upper 2/3rds of the contiguous USA. Earthscope mapped the electrical properties of deep rock and soil on a continent-spanning grid with points about 70 km apart. USGS researchers led by Greg Lucas and Jeffrey Love combined this information with the layout of modern power lines to estimate peak voltages during a century-class storm.


Sprawling power lines act like antennas, picking up currents and spreading the problem over a wide area.

They found a huge variation in hazard across the USA. “The largest estimated once-per-century geoelectric field is 27.2 V/km at a site located in Maine, while the lowest estimated once-per-century geoelectric field is 0.02 V/km at a site located in Idaho.

That is more than 3 orders of magnitude difference,” they wrote in their research paper “A 100‐year Geoelectric Hazard Analysis for the U.S. High‐Voltage Power Grid.” Notably, some of the most vulnerable regions are near big cities: Denver, Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Washington, DC.

To complete the hazard map, the researchers are waiting for a new magnetotelluric survey to cover the rest of the USA. It can’t come soon enough. The last “century-class” geomagnetic storm hit in May 1921 … 99 years ago.

Sources:

https://spaceweather.com

And

https://agupubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1029/2019SW002329

The Upcoming ‘Super Pink Moon’ Will Be the Biggest and Best of 2020

Posted in astronomy with tags , , on April 6, 2020 by theboldcorsicanflame

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Peaking on April 7 and 8, the pink moon is expected to be the brightest supermoon of 2020.

Expected to be the brightest supermoon of 2020, this special moon comes at a time when millions across the globe won’t have the freedom to travel to find the perfect viewing spot away from city lights.

We hope city dwellers are able to enjoy the light of this moon from the safety of their homes and take comfort in the fact that many cities are enjoying clearer skies as a result of millions of vehicles not being on the roads.

The first full moon of spring, also known as the Paschal Moon in the Christian calendar and used to calculate the date for Easter, will be visible after sunset and reach its peak illumination at 10:35pm, EDT.

But don’t expect the moon to actually be pink. Instead it will be its usual color, just brighter and bigger, especially when it’s close to the horizon at moon rise or moon set.

According to The Farmer’s Almanac, full moons are named after the seasons or events usually happening during the season. As such, the Pink Moon is named for the first spring flowers that cover the ground like a pink carpet, called Wild Ground Phlox or Moss Phlox (Phlox subulata). Native to North America, these flowers often bloom around April’s full moon.

Native American tribes, Anglo Saxons, and Germanic regions named the months after seasonal features often associated with nature in the Northern Hemisphere. Many of the Native American names were used by the Colonial settlers and are still used today. Other names for the April full moon include the Sprouting Grass Moon, Fish Moon, Hare Moon, and Egg Moon (birds start laying eggs).

Tonight, Venus, the crescent Moon and the Pleiades will form a beautiful triangle in the western sunset sky.

Posted in 2020, astronomy, science with tags , , , on March 28, 2020 by theboldcorsicanflame

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Venus, the Moon, and the Pleiades converge on March 27th–the prelude to an even prettier conjunction on March 28th. Photo credit: Ruslan Merzlyakov of Nykøbing Mors, Denmark. [photo gallery]

 

Tonight, Venus, the crescent Moon and the Pleiades will form a beautiful triangle in the western sunset sky. The event kicks off a slow-motion conjunction between Venus and the Pleiades that will grow even more beautiful in the nights ahead. Visit Spaceweather.com for sky maps and observing tips.

Not seen in 30 years. “Noctilucent clouds (NLCs) have appeared over the South Pacific”

Posted in 2020, astronomy with tags , on March 27, 2020 by theboldcorsicanflame

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Meteorologist Ashleigh Wilson of the Australian Antarctic Division. “I photographed them from Macquarie Island on Jan. 4th.”

Wilson is just wrapping up a year-long stint on the remote island where the Australian government maintains a research station to study climate change and wildlife.

“According to John French of the Australian Antarctic Division Atmospheric Science Program, the only other photographic recording of NLCs from Macquarie Island was in the mid-1990s,” she says.

NLCs are Earth’s highest clouds. Seeded by meteoroids, they float at the edge of space more than 80 km above the planet’s surface. NLCs form when summertime wisps of water vapor rise up to the edge of space and crystalize around specks of ‘meteor smoke.’

Prime time for sightings is June-July in the north, December-January in the south.

“It was a breathtaking moment when I first realized what I was seeing,” recalls Wilson.

“I spent two hours down by the ocean with a camera and tripod, adjusting ISO and lenses, trying to capture the extraordinary event. The clouds were so bright, I could see their reflection in the water.”

Wilson’s sighting caps a remarkable year for noctilucent clouds. Once confined to Earth’s polar regions, NLCs have recently spread to lower and lower latitudes.

In June 2019, the clouds appeared over Rome, Italy; Las Vegas, Nevada; Albuquerque, New Mexico; Paris, France; and outside Los Angeles, California. Many of the sightings smashed old records for low-latitude visibility.


Above: The spread of NLCs. Their traditional domain is shaded. Black circles denote sightings in 2003-2011. Red circles are for June 2019. The map originally appeared in JGR Atmospheresarticle.

In the southern hemisphere, reports of any noctilucent clouds are quite rare–in part because there are fewer people on that side of the world; in part because southern NLCs are usually weaker than their northern counterparts.

Nevertheless, NLCs were sighted over New Zealand in Dec. 2019 and Macquarie Island in Jan. 2020.

No one knows why NLCs are so revved up. It could be a result of climate change and/or the solar cycle. Whatever the reason, get ready for more.

The northern hemisphere season for NLCs is about to begin. Typically, the first electric-blue filaments are sighted in mid- to late-May followed by a sharp intensification in June. If recent trends continue, summer 2020 could be very special indeed.

A longer and sharable version of this story may be found here.

Noctilucent Clouds over the South Pacific

 

Rare, unusually large ozone hole develops over the Arctic-Canadian region

Posted in 2020, astronomy, Galaxy with tags on March 18, 2020 by theboldcorsicanflame

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A huge area of sustained ozone depletion has developed over the Arctic-Canadian region — too late for the winter season, too early for spring, and unusually strong for the northern hemisphere.

The ozone layer is a natural layer of protective gas in the upper atmosphere that shields living things on Earth from harmful ultraviolet radiation from the Sun.

Under an ozone hole, this protective layer is gone, which may cause problems for living organisms as more of the harmful UV radiation penetrates.

“In the past days/weeks, we have been monitoring the onset of unusually strong ozone depletion over the north polar regions,” Severe Weather Europe (SWE) meteorologists noted.

“We already had a big drop in the minimum ozone values in late November 2019 and January 2020, due to [the] development of a ‘mini’ ozone hole over northern Europe.”

SWE said these small ozone holes over the North Pole do not develop because of a chemical destruction process, like over the Antarctic due to the aerosols.

False-color view of total ozone over the Arctic pole on March 16, 2020. The purple and blue colors are where there is the least ozone, and the yellows and reds are where there is more ozone. Credit: NASA/Goddard

Northern hemisphere ozone status November 1, 2020 – March 16, 2020

Northern hemisphere ozone status for the month of March — 1979 – 2019

A minimum ozone graph also shows two powerful low spikes in late November and January, but these were short-lived events that likely happens each year during the cold season.

“What really got our attention, was the overall reduction of ozone, in early March, when the values should actually be going up slowly,” said SWE.

“Something was off, and this time it was not just a quick low spike from a mini ozone hole, but a proper ozone destruction process.”

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Image credit: P. Newman (NASA), E. Nash (SSAI), R. McPeters (NASA), S. Pawson (NASA)

SWE’s research showed that the ozone hole over the South pole develops due to a chemical process that tears the ozone– this process entails very cold air which is below -78 C (108.4 °F), sunlight, as well as human emissions of hazardous chloro-fluorocarbon (CFCs) and hydro-fluorocarbon (HFCs) aerosols.

Cold temperature lets stratospheric clouds to establish, and then sunlight reacts with the clouds to begin a photochemical process that breaks the ozone, resulting in the formation and growth of the ozone hole.

“As we mentioned, ozone destruction also needs sunlight, which is why this process is limited over the north pole,” SWE said.

“By late February and March when sunlight reaches the pole, the stratosphere over the north pole is usually not cold enough anymore to produce these clouds, which are essential for the ozone destruction process.”

The stratosphere can be unusually cold in some years, like this year, and it can generate stratospheric clouds at the same time that sunlight touches the pole, triggering ozone destruction.

FULL ARTICLE ON

https://watchers.news/2020/03/18/rare-ozone-hole-arctic-march-2020/

Since the mid 1800s, scientists have long suspected that changes in the geometry of Earth’s orbit are responsible for the coming and going of ice ages

Posted in 2020, astronomy, Extreme Weather with tags on March 16, 2020 by theboldcorsicanflame

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New University of Melbourne research has revealed that ice ages over the last million years ended when the tilt angle of the Earth’s axis was approaching higher values.

During these times, longer and stronger summers melted the large Northern Hemisphere ice sheets, propelling the Earth’s climate into a warm ‘interglacial’ state, like the one we’ve experienced over the last 11,000 years.

The study by Ph.D. candidate, Petra Bajo, and colleagues also showed that summer energy levels at the time these ‘ice-age terminations’ were triggered controlled how long it took for the ice sheets to collapse, with higher energy levels producing fast collapse.

TO BE CONTINUED ON

https://m.phys.org/news/2020-03-ice-age.html

 

 

PROVING THE SUN CAUSES GLOBAL WARMING, NOT CO2

Posted in 2020, astronomy with tags , on March 12, 2020 by theboldcorsicanflame

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We urgently need to expose the ‘CO2 = pollutant’ fallacy being forced upon your children, grandchildren, nephews and nieces by schools, universities, governments and mainstream media worldwide, and to denounce it in scrupulously truthful terms easily understood by the public, including those youngsters themselves.

Here are the 29 bullet points proving CO2’s innocence

READ THE FULL ARTICLE

29 Bullet Points PROVING the Sun causes Global Warming, not CO2: by a GEOLOGIST, for a change (Dr Roger Higgs)

 

 

 

NASA officials ‘baffled’ after space cameras catch UFO following ISS for over 20 minutes

Posted in 2020, astronomy, Galaxy with tags , , , on February 29, 2020 by theboldcorsicanflame

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Astonishing footage of a UFO hovering above Earth has been caught by NASA cameras.

The incredible video, captured on the US space agency’s live camera sees the cone-shaped object keep pace with the International Space Station (ISS) above it.

In a bizarre twist, the NASA camera zooms in on the object, appearing to show the US space agency acknowledges the UFO.

FULL STORY ON

https://www.express.co.uk/news/weird/1245959/NASA-official-space-cameras-UFO-ISS-alien-latest-news

 

 

A spectacular fireball (meteor) above Zagreb, Croatia, Feb 28th, 2020

Posted in 2020, astronomy with tags , , , on February 29, 2020 by theboldcorsicanflame

A spectacular fireball (meteor) exploded over northern Balkans today at 10:34 local time (09:34 UTC), Feb 28th. There are numerous reports of a loud sonic boom with the accompanying shockwave, strong enough to be clearly seen on the seismographs as an earthquake! Video by Tomislav Čar, posted with permission. Video: Tomislav Čar

Call off the supernova watch. Betelgeuse is brightening again.

Posted in 2020, astronomy, Uncategorized with tags , , , , on February 24, 2020 by theboldcorsicanflame

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SUPERNOVA WATCH, CANCELLED: Call off the supernova watch.

Betelgeuse is brightening again. Researchers from Villanova University, who have been leading the study of Betelegeuse’sunprecedented decline, have confirmed in a new Astronomical Telegram that the star has reversed itself. The turnaround was actually predicted, and suggests the recent dimming was an unusually deep excursion of the star’s natural 430-day periodicity.

Here are the latest data from the American Association of Variable Star Observers (AAVSO)

Full article on https://spaceweather.com

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