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Sun, 20 Oct 2019
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Strange Skies

Question

Mysterious radio burst detected by China's radio telescope

FAST in China
© Asia Times
FAST, the world’s largest single-dish radio telescope, has a certain edge in detecting repeated FRBs.
Is someone or something trying to contact earth?

China's Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Radio Telescope (FAST) has detected a repeating fast radio burst (FRB) — mysterious radio signals from outer space — for the first time, Science and Technology Daily reported.

Scientists on the FAST project with the National Astronomical Observatories of China, part of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, revealed the news to China Daily on Wednesday.

The FRB originated some three billion light years away from Earth. Interference factors including aircraft and satellites have been eliminated and cross validation is being carried out, the scientists said.

FRB is one of the hottest topics in astronomy. It was not until 2007 when the first FRB was discovered by humans. Fewer than 100 FRBs have been detected internationally to date.

There is still no cohesive explanation for the origin of FRB in the international scientific community at present. FRBs mostly only appear once, which makes them very hard to track.

Info

Von Braun Space Station due for 2025

The wheel-like Von Braun Space Station, which is based on the International Space Station, has a lot of new tech, and some not-so-new tech. It's to be a mix of space hotel and seminar and educational centre.
Von Braun Space Station
© Picture courtesy The Gateway Foundation
The proposed space hotel designed by The Gateway Foundation.
The large "cruise liner in space" is mainly for accommodation, and perhaps the ultimate available upmarket corporate events, etc. The Von Braun Space Station is designed by the Gateway Foundation, an interesting mix of obvious promotional zeal and what looks very like idealism.

I was looking for some background for the Gateway Foundation but didn't find any conventional corporate info. The actual ownership and leadership include a few notables who'd have the right to some credibility.

The idea of a luxury space station isn't new in theory, but as a project, it's a whole new ball game or several. You can see the technical specifications on the Gateway page.

Galaxy

Gigantic jet photographed piercing the sky in China

gigantic jet
You never know what you might see in the wake of a big storm. On Aug. 25th, Chinese astrophotographer Chao Shen of Shaoxing City went outside to photograph the Milky Way. A typhoon named "White Deer" had passed through the day before, and the storm clouds were parting. "I saw the stars--but that's not all," says Shen. "A Gigantic Jet leaped up right before my eyes!"

Think of them as sprites on steroids: Gigantic Jets are lightning-like discharges that spring from the tops of thunderstorms, reaching all the way to the edge of space. They're enormous and powerful.

"Shen definitely caught a Gigantic Jet," confirms Oscar van der Velde of the Lightning Research Group at the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya. "It looks like it may have reached as high as 90 km above the ground."

"Gigantic Jets are much more rare than sprites," says van der Velde. "While sprites were discovered in 1989 and have since been photographed by the thousands, it was not until 2001-2002 that Gigantic Jets were first recorded from Puerto Rico and Taiwan." Only dozens of Gigantic Jets have ever been photographed.

Comment: Wiki details the difference between a blue jet and a gigantic jet:
Gigantic jets

Where blue jets are believed to initiate between the upper positive charge region and a negative screening layer directly above this region, Gigantic jets appear to initiate between the upper positive and lower negative charge regions in the thundercloud. In a similar process to how blue jets form, the higher charge region is discharged by the leader network before the same occurs in the lower charge region, and one end of the leader network propagates upward from the cloud toward the ionosphere. Gigantic jets reach higher altitudes than blue jets, and the upper portion of the jet changes color from blue to red.
See also:


Sun

Sun dog lights up sky in Canterbury, New Zealand

Sun dog over Canterbury, NZ
© Ross Day
It looks like something out of a science fiction novel but it's really just a quirk of the clouds that gives the appearance Earth is now orbiting two suns.

Ice prisms in a veil of high cirrus, about 8 kilometres up, refract sunlight and can create many different optical phenomena, including the "mock sun" or "sun dog" photographed by Ross Day near Sugar Loaf on Christchurch's Port Hills close to sunset on Tuesday.

The phenomenon - more properly known as a parhelion - is not especially rare and is one of several tricks of the light generated by hexagonal ice crystals in clouds at such high altitudes.

In the best displays, a whole range of intersecting haloes and arcs may be visible around the Sun.

Rainbow

Cooling atmosphere: Circumzenithal arc shines over Brighton, England

circumzenithal arc over brighton
© Sherrie Fox
A natural phenomenon usually seen at the North and South Poles has been spotted in the sky over Brighton.

A circumzenithal arc, shaped like an upside-down rainbow and giving the appearance of a smile in the sky, was seen above the city at around 4pm yesterday. It is shown in the pictures, sent to The Argus by reader Sherrie Fox.

According to the Met Office, circumzenithal arcs are formed when sunlight refracts through horizontal ice crystals at an angle where the light enters the crystal through its flat top face and exits through a side prism face. This is what causes the distinctive upside-down rainbow effect.

Sun

Sun is resource for quantum entanglement, may reveal internal solar processes

CME on Sun
© NOAA
A nearby source of quantum photons.
Up until the mid-20th century, light was pretty ordinary. Yes, it was both a particle and a wave, but it didn't do anything very weird. Then scientists, under-employed after the end of World War II, started paying more attention to the properties of light. This was, in part, driven by the availability of surplus searchlights, which could be turned into cheap arrays of light detectors to measure the properties of stars.

That began the photon gold rush, with scientists identifying all sorts of interesting potential behaviors. But actually observing them would require having rather special light sources, which didn't exist. Now, scientists have shown that our own Sun can be turned into one of these light sources.

UFO

Are recent UFO announcements part of the military's 'soft disclosure' strategy?

The Battle of Los Angeles
© History
The Battle of Los Angeles actually began in northern Santa Barbara County. The UFO was spotted over Santa Maria before heading south.
UFOs have been in the news a lot lately, and not because of what is happening in the sky, but because of what is happening on Earth. It has been called a "soft disclosure," meaning the military is leaking bits of information on UFOs to the public rather than making a major announcement and causing a panic.

This April, the U.S. Navy acknowledged guidelines for how their pilots can report encounters with anomalous ships without fear of reprisal. This comes after a New York Times article about numerous sightings of Tic Tac-shaped UFOs around the USS Nimitz south of San Diego. According to a spokesman for naval operations, there has been an overall "uptick of interaction with aerial phenomenon" since 2014. There have been less controlled responses, too. Over two million people have signed up on Facebook to storm Area 51 on September 20 to "see them aliens."

Santa Barbara County is no stranger to sightings and played a part in the famous Battle of Los Angeles. Two days after the Japanese shelled the Ellwood Pier near Goleta in 1942, and just a few months after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, a giant ship appeared over Los Angeles. According to UFO researcher David Marler in his book Triangular Ships, it was first spotted over Santa Maria before heading south on an inland path. Already jittery, and thinking it was the Japanese, the U.S. military fired 1,440 anti-aircraft shells on the mysterious ship. The Japanese denied having any planes over the U.S. The event has never been fully explained, though a referral to weather balloons was made.

Multiple UFOs sightings have been reported since the atomic bomb was developed in the 1940s. Yet there have been no reports of actual attacks or threats to wipe out our civilization. In fact, according to many who have studied UFOs, extraterrestrials have worked to stop us from self-annihilation. They point to three alleged incidents of UFOs shutting down our nuclear missile bases. In 1967, Lieutenant Robert Salas, a commanding officer at Malmstrom Air Force Base in Montana, reported that a hovering UFO disabled 10 missile silos on his watch. He said he saw it as an anti-nuclear war message.

Galaxy

Large numbers of red sprites in the skies over Europe this summer

Red sprites above a mesoscale convective system in Hungary, as seen from western Slovenia. July 31, 2019.
© : Marko Korošec / Weather-Photos.net
Red sprites above a mesoscale convective system in Hungary, as seen from western Slovenia. July 31, 2019.
Have you noticed the huge number of reported red sprites in the skies over Europe lately? What are they? How are they detected? Is this normal?

Thunderstorms are electrically charged weather systems, and we are quite used to typical electrical discharges from storms - lightning. Lightning that we are most familiar with goes from the cloud to the ground, called cloud-to-ground lightning. However, thunderstorms discharge also upwards, above the storm. This is not typical lightning, but phenomena sometimes called upper atmosphere lightning and more appropriately transient luminous events.

There is an entire zoo of transient luminous events caused by electrical discharges from thunderstorms. Of these, red sprites are by far the most common. Red sprites happen when the parent thunderstorm unleashes a strong positive lightning bolt. Positive lightning is very powerful, typically 2x to 10x more powerful than typical negative lightning. It is also rare, with less than 5% of all lightning bolts being positive.

Comment: Severe Weather Europe reports another round of sightings during the night of 18/19 Aug.

See also the following reports of this increasingly frequent phenomenon (and other unusual atmospheric events) from the last few years:


Question

Plasma event? Bizarre angel-like atmospheric phenomenon captured over Brazil

Angel-like plasma event over Brazil
© YouTube / Disclose Screen 'The Grimreefar'
The massive shining figure was recorded soaring in a cloudy sky, changing direction but retaining its bizarre shape. It is unclear whether the filmed object is an energy source or a remarkable light refraction.

A strange and unique atmospheric phenomenon was caught on camera in Brazil. A video uploaded by a UFO hunter who goes under the name of Disclose Screen "the Greemreefar" shows a T-shaped shining object in the cloudy sky, which roughly resembles an angel in a long robe.
"It looks like light refraction but then again it looks like some type of energy source," the cameraman says on the video. "It's even got the harmonious appearance of an angel."
The T-shaped object remains in motion for a period of time, moving from one cloud to another, changing angle and direction.


Comment: A similar event was captured over Missouri in April last year: Plasma event? 'Crazy sky phenomena' filmed in Raytown, Missouri

In recent times sightings of STEVE and other atmospheric events appear to be increasing. See also: Electric universe theory provides rational, intelligible explanations for such atmospheric phenomena as ball lightning, plasma discharges, noctilucent clouds, lightning, hurricanes and tornadoes. For more information on this and much more read, Earth Changes and the Human-Cosmic Connection by Pierre Lescaudron and Laura Knight-Jadczyk.


Moon

Spectacular moon halo seen over Magellan telescope in Las Campanas, Chile

Moon halo over Chile
© Yuri Beletsky
This sort of halo is called a 22 degree halo by skywatchers. You can see them around both the sun and moon. They're caused by ice crystals in the air. They bear that name because the radius of the ring is always approximately 22 degrees.

Yuri Beletsky works for the Carnegie Observatories, based at Las Campanas in northern Chile, home to the twin Magellan telescopes, and site of the future Giant Magellan Telescope. Yuri is a fantastic nature photographer; you can follow his Nightscapes on Facebook. He posted this image on Facebook on August 10, 2019, and wrote:
Even when the weather is bad, we astronomers, never lose hope. Cloudy weather, it's the worst nightmare for us. But at the same time the nature can surprise us with stunning views during those nights. Here is an amazing 22 degree halo around the moon just above the Magellan telescope :) The brightest 'star' on the left is the planet Jupiter. Besides, you can see some stars through the clouds. I hope you'll enjoy the view.