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Sat, 15 Aug 2020
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Strange Skies


Earth's mean temperature falling and possible explanation of the 11-year cycle

Dropping Temperatures
© NASA Earth Observatory. Public Domain
The global mean temperature in April 2020 was again significantly lower than in February and March, at 0.38°C above the average from 1981 to 2010. The average temperature increase on the globe from 1981 to February 2020 was 0.14°C per decade. The further development promises to be interesting, especially since a number of research institutes expect a higher probability of a cooling La Nina in the Pacific towards the end of the year. March's solar activity was very low with a sunspot number of 1.5. Activity in April rose slightly to 5.4. The first sunspots of the new cycle are showing.

What causes the sun to have an 11-year cycle?

Since the Dessau pharmacist Heinrich Samuel Schwabe discovered in 1843 that the sunspots of the sun increase and decrease in an 11-year cycle, science has been puzzling over the reason why this cycle lasts 11 years and why the solar magnetic field also changes its polarity in this rhythm: the north pole becomes the south pole and vice versa.

In July last year, scientists at the Helmholtz Centre in Dresden Rossendorf made a little-noticed but exciting discovery. Every 11.07 years, the planets Venus, Earth and Jupiter are aligned quite precisely. At this point in time, their gravitational force acts jointly in one direction on the Sun.

"The agreement is amazingly accurate: we see a complete parallelism with the planets over 90 cycles," explains Frank Stefani, one of the authors of the publication published in Solar Physics. Just as the gravitational pull of the Moon causes the tides on Earth, planets could move the hot plasma on the surface of the Sun. But the effect of a simple gravitational force is too weak to significantly disturb the flow in the Sun's interior, so the temporal coincidence has long been ignored.


Double sun halo surprises residents in Cuba

Double sun halo over Cuba
The ring around the sun seen this Friday surprised many in the capital of Cuba.

Heaven in the city of Havana has given its inhabitants a double show in less than a week.

As happened on May 2, this Friday, Cubans could see a solar halo from various points in the capital, which generated great expectation.

The event this Friday was even bigger, because at times a double ring was seen around the Sun, as reported by the Forecast Center, of the Cuban Institute of Meteorology, through Twitter.

The optical phenomenon was captured in photographs that were shared on social networks.


Closest black hole to Earth discovered by astronomers

Location of HR 6819 in the constellation of Telescopium (red circle). The chart shows most of the stars visible to the unaided eye under good conditions.
Astronomers have discovered a black hole just 1000 light-years from Earth - closer to our Solar System than any found to date.

It forms part of a triple system located in the constellation of Telescopium and can be viewed without binoculars or a telescope on a dark and clear night in the southern hemisphere.

The international team originally observed the system, called HR 6819, as part of a study of double-star systems. However, as they analysed their observations, they were amazed when they revealed a third body - the black hole.

The observations with the FEROS spectrograph on the MPG/ESO 2.2-metre telescope at ESO's La Silla Observatory in Chile showed that one of the two visible stars orbits an unseen object every 40 days, while the second star is at a large distance from this inner pair.

"We were totally surprised when we realised that this is the first stellar system with a black hole that can be seen with the unaided eye," says Petr Hadrava from Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, a co-author of a paper in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics.

Fireball 4

Burning object recorded in New Zealand sky likely a meteor

Meteor over the Remarkables
© Matthew Willcox
Queenstown resident Matt Wilcox was lucky enough to witness what was probably a meteor on Wednesday evening.
A Queenstown man has captured some mysterious footage above the Remarkables mountain range.

Matt Wilcox was out for a walk when he spotted something odd.

"[It] was probably only visible for around a minute or so. Then it went behind the Remarkables and out of sight."

Southland Astronomical Society astronomer Mike Bailey had examined the footage and said he believed it was not a plane as it was moving too fast.

"It also looks dirty, aircraft contrails would normally be white," he added.


Rainbow meets lightning during Idaho storm

Rainbow meets lightning
© Pete Caster/Lewiston Tribune
A bolt of lightning streaks toward the remaining vestiges of a rainbow over the Lewiston Orchards as a thunderstorm rolls through the Lewiston-Clarkston Valley on Wednesday evening.

The storm brought thunder, lightning and rain to the valley, and there's a chance more thunderstorms will come to the area this weekend.


Ozone hole over the Arctic has closed

An "unprecedented" hole in the ozone layer which developed to become the largest ever seen over the Arctic has closed just weeks after opening, according to scientists monitoring ozone concentrations over the North Pole,.
Ozone Hole
Artist's impression of Sentinel-5p with the TROPOMI instrument on board.
From March 14, 2020, until April 7, scientists from the German Aerospace Center (DLR) had noticed and been following the unusually strong depletion of ozone over the northern polar regions, according to Digital Journal.

Using data from the Tropomi instrument onboard the Copernicus Sentinel-5P satellite, - which measures spectral bands in the UV, VIS, NIR, and SWIR - scientists were able to watch the formation of the hole in the atmosphere.

The depleted area over the North Pole seat a record for ozone depletion in the Northern Hemisphere, however, scientists announced last week that the "rather unusual" hole was caused not by human activity but a particularly strong Arctic polar vortex, according to CTV News Canada, quoting the Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (CAMS).


Mysterious blue lights seen in the sky across the world

Blue lights over New York
© YouTube/_shafasgachaworld _kittykat_《HannahTristaMidnight》(screen capture)

Usually bright lights are produced by flashlights near nightclubs, but this explanation seems untenable due to the coronavirus pandemic that has confined most of the population within four walls and closed all public places.

Social media users have been engaged in heated debates over mysterious blue lights that were spotted in different places across the world, including Australia, Spain, and the United States. The debates began after YouTube user _shafasgachaworld _kittykat_《HannahTristaMidnight》posted footage of a strange blue light in the sky in New York.

Comment: Another video showing similar blue lights was taken on 14th of April in Madrid, Spain.

Apparently it isn't the first time that this person has recorded this phenomenon. In fact, here is another video (from 28.03.20), and another (from 20.03.20) that were taken at the same location.

Mysterious, rare and stunning sights in the sky appear to be increasing everywhere. Perhaps the base level electric charge in the atmosphere is changing?


Sky watchers across southeast Wisconsin treated to beautiful sun halo

Sun halo over SE WI
© Gin Prince
Monday afternoon brought a treat to sky watchers across SE Wisconsin; the sun was surrounded by a beautiful halo.

TMJ4 viewers sent the Storm Team lots of great photos.

A halo looks like a whitish ring surrounding the sun. Occasionally, onlookers can see some color in the halo, most often a reddish band in the inner portion of the ring.

This phenomena happens on days where high, thin clouds are present. These high cirrus clouds, which develop above 20,000 feet, are are composed of ice crystals. Halos are typically seen when these six-sided ice crystals have a random orientation. The sunlight is then dispersed through the ice crystals and the light is refracted, creating the halo.


19 'Centaurs' beyond Jupiter may be from another star system

Centaur Chariklo
© Illustration: ESO/L. Calçada/Nick Risinger/SkySurvey Org
Artist’s impression of the Centaur Chariklo.
Astronomers think they've found an entire population of asteroids originating from outside our solar system, according to a new paper.

The objects at the centre of this investigation aren't new discoveries. Called the Centaurs, they're mysterious asteroids that orbit in the neighbourhood of Jupiter and beyond. These objects take highly inclined orbits relative to the plane of the rest of the planets, and in at least one case, orbit the "wrong" way relative to the rest of the solar system's objects. By playing the laws of physics in reverse, scientists Fathi Namouni at the Université Côte d'Azur in France and Helena Morais at UNESP in Brazil found that 19 of these objects likely originated around another star.

Astronomers first spotted the object (514107) 2015 BZ509, now called Ka'epaoka'awela, in the Pan-STARRS survey in 2015. Analysis of this asteroid revealed something shocking: It was orbiting the wrong way around the solar system in a stable yet eccentric orbit near Jupiter, on a tilt relative to the rest of the planets.

Morais and Namouni studied that object's orbit, built a simulation, and played in reverse the behaviour of a million imaginary objects that fit Ka'epaoka'awela's orbital parameters, each with slightly different properties within the margin of error of the original observations. Most of the simulated objects either crashed into the Sun or other planets or were ejected from the solar system, but both of these cases failed to produce sensical origin stories for the asteroids once they turned the arrow of time back forward, Namouni explained. The ones that did obey the laws of physics were stable since the founding of the solar system 4.5 billion years ago. The researchers interpreted their observations as the objects having been captured from elsewhere.


Giant rings around the sun over Cork, Ireland explained

Sun halo over Cork, Ireland
© Robert Falvey
Aliens, weird cloud formations or just optical illusions - many people across the Rebel County have been asking about the giant rings seen around the sun today.

The rings, which appeared in the sky around lunchtime and persisted for a few hours, caught the eye of many an amateur astronomer, including Robert Falvey, who took a few pics on them while on his 2km walk on the Commons Road on the northside of the city.

And Robert wasn't the only Leesider looking to the sky and wondering what was going on, if social media is any guide.

Robert reckoned they were "weird and amazing" asked CorkBeo to look into it, so we asked Caoimhin de Bhailis of Blackrock Castle Observatory who came up with the scientific explanation.