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Mon, 19 Feb 2018
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Strange Skies


Exoplanets discovered rotating at "perfect fifth" intervals

Divine musical scales
© Photo 12/UIG via Getty Images
In 1619 Johannes Kepler calculated the "divine" musical scales of the planets in the solar system. Now citizen science has found a strong musical equivalence in a chain of newly discovered exoplanets.
With the help of citizen scientists, exoplanet hunters have made one of their most unusual discoveries yet: a system called K2-138 that contains five planets orbiting in near-perfect resonances so close to their star that all five orbits are less than 13 days.

Orbital resonances occur when planetary orbits are spaced so that they circle their star in numerically related patterns. In the case of K2-138, this resonance is close to 3:2, which means that each planet makes three circuits of the star in the time it takes the next one out to make two. That is, the outer planet's orbit is 50% longer than the inner one's.

Such resonances are common in the planetary systems discovered by NASA's Kepler space telescope (which seeks exoplanets by looking for dips in the brightness of distant stars that occur when planets cross in front of them, blocking part of their light). That's because Kepler has discovered a great many compact planetary systems, in which planets would gravitationally interfere with each other if their orbits were not somehow synchronised.

But K2-138 is the most dramatic example of this yet, with five planets - all between 1.6 and 3.3 times the size of the Earth - moving like clockwork in a succession of 3:2 resonances. Specifically, their orbits are 2.35, 3.56, 5.40, 8.26, and 12.76 days, forming an unbroken chain of close-to-3:2 resonances - the longest such chain ever discovered. Moreover, there are hints of a sixth planet, which, if it exists, would orbit in about 42 days.

Comet 2

Dynamic space: Rotation of Comet 41P makes inexplicably slows down

Comet 41P
© Chris Schur/Schurs Astrophotography
Comet 41P/Tuttle-Giacobini-Kresák glides beneath the galaxy NGC 3198 on March 14, 2017, two weeks before the object's closest approach to Earth.
National Harbor, Md. - A small comet broke a rotation-speed record in a big way: New work reveals that an icy rock known as 41P dramatically slowed its spin at an unprecedented rate in 2017, spinning down at about 10 times the pace of the next-ranked comet.

This comet, whose full name is 41P/Tuttle-Giacobini-Kresák, experienced "the largest but also the fastest change that has ever been seen in a comet rotation," said Dennis Bodewits, an associate research scientist at the University of Maryland (UMD) in College Park.

Bodewits presented his team's findings Wednesday (Jan. 10) during a press conference held here at the 231st meeting of the American Astronomical Society.

Comment: What could have acted on it? It need not have been something it came close to. And they used to say space was 'stable'...


Woman films vertical UFO over Mexico

Vertical UFO
© YouTube
While driving through the Mexican state of Baja California recently, a woman took out her camera phone and filmed what is being called the first alien UFO sighting of the new year.

The video (watch below) appears to show a vertical object that is taller than it is wide, hovering in the orange sky above the rooftops as the person filming drives down the road.

"You can see that the tubular UFO is flying vertically over the city," said Pedro Martinez, a man Daily Mail describes as an "UFO expert."

"Aliens are aware that we have made a number of space launches recently and have identified that we have been sending up 'war material.' Concerned by our activity, they have been increasingly monitoring our planet. This year will be very important for those of us who follow this phenomenon closely."


Hypatia stone rattles solar system status quo

Hypatia Stone
© Dr Mario di Martino, INAF Osservatorio Astrofysico di Torino
Researchers Jan Kramers and Georgy Belyanin found mineral compounds unlike anything on Earth, or in known meteorites or comets, in these fragments from the Hypatia stone, which was picked up in south-west Egypt in the Libyan Desert Glass Field.
In 2013, researchers announced that a pebble found in south-west Egypt, was definitely not from Earth. By 2015, other research teams had announced that the 'Hypatia' stone was not part of any known types of meteorite or comet, based on noble gas and nuclear probe analyses.

(The stone was named Hypatia after Hypatia of Alexandria, the first Western woman mathematician and astronomer).

However, if the pebble was not from Earth, what was its origin and could the minerals in it provide clues on where it came from? Micro-mineral analyses of the pebble by the original research team at the University of Johannesburg have now provided unsettling answers that spiral away from conventional views of the material our solar system was formed from.


Oldest depiction of a supernova found in 5000 year-old rock art in India

Ancient Supernova
Imagine looking up at the sky one night and finding two moons. If it happened in 2017, Twitter would be abuzz with people posting photos. News channels would get astronomers to explain what's happening, and they'd say it's not a supernatural phenomenon but likely an exploding star-a supernova. Within hours, telescopes would have nailed down the exact star that suffered the dreadful fate. And then, likely for weeks to come, you'd be able to enjoy the presence of a very, very, very bright star in the sky.

Now imagine seeing the same sight 5,000 years ago. Nobody in your tribe has any clue why there's suddenly an extra super-bright object in the night sky. There are no records, written or pictorial, to consult. However, curious as you and your tribemates might be, you aren't going to risk asking someone in the rival tribe nearby. All you could do is wonder about the oddity-and perhaps try to represent it through your favorite artistic medium.

Scientists say this is likely what happened back in 3600 BC. Astrophysicist Mayank Vahia and his colleagues at the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research believe a rock painting found in what is today part of the Kashmir region of south Asia is the oldest record of a supernova and likely the oldest sky chart ever drawn. The artwork shows two bright objects in the sky, with figures of animals and humans underneath. A study detailing the discovery has been published in the Indian Journal of History of Science (pdf). (Vahia also spoke about the discovery for the podcast The Intersection.)

Fireball 2

Mysterious blazing object lights up the night sky over Ocaña, Colombia

This is the moment a mysterious fireball (pictured) snaked its way across the night sky

This is the moment a mysterious fireball (pictured) snaked its way across the night sky
This is the moment a mysterious fireball snaked its way across the night sky, sparking fears that the earth is being targeted by alien invaders.

Footage captured by residents in Colombia shows a large ball of light looming overhead for several minutes.

Slowly, the ominous orange glow fades into the distance and eventually disappears.

The strange sighting took place in the town of Ocana in Norte de Santander, Colombia.

Witnesses say the glow faded from view close to the neighbouring town of Aguas Claras.

Many residents captured the bizarre phenomenon and several videos have gone viral across social media.


New study traces electric currents that flow along Earth's magnetic field

Earth’s magnetic field lines
© ESA/ATG Medialab
An illustration of Earth’s magnetic field lines, which are generated by the planet’s swirling liquid outer core and curve as they get buffeted by the solar wind.
The fact that planet Earth is essentially a giant magnet is not a great secret: A compass works because either end of its magnetized needle is constantly being drawn toward the North and South poles. Scientists believe that the Earth's magnetization is caused by a sea of liquid metal flowing past its solid iron core, creating electric currents and, in turn, magnetic fields.

The Earth's magnetic fields extend to the ionosphere-a layer of plasma and neutral gases about 50-500 kilometers above Earth's surface-and the magnetosphere, which starts at the outer edges of the ionosphere and stretches many thousands of miles into space. Magnetic fields from Earth and the Sun affect the behavior of charged particles in the magnetosphere.

Earth's magnetic field is highly conductive and carries charged particles in a predictable fashion along field lines (giving rise to aptly titled field-aligned currents). Starting in the early 1900s, scientists conceptualized an exchange of energy and momentum between the solar wind (a stream of charged particles emitted by the Sun that flows throughout the solar system) and our planet's own magnetic field.


First total lunar eclipse on January 31st

On Wednesday, January 31, 2018, the first total lunar eclipse in more than two years graces the skies above North America. But unlike the previous one, this eclipse is positioned perfectly for the West Coast and Pacific Rim, while the East Coast and the Atlantic Regions will see little, if any, of the show.
Total Lunar Eclipse
© Sean Walker
This sequence taken during the last total lunar eclipse on September 28, 2015, was captured in seven separate exposures with a Canon Rebel XSi DSLR and an 8-inch f/3.3 Newtonian reflector.
The eclipse occurs in the morning for western North America and the near Pacific. For the East Coast, the Moon sets before totality arrives, so the best you'll see from, say, Pittsburgh, is a partial eclipse. Viewers in the western contiguous United States (roughly west of a line drawn from Grand Forks, North Dakota, to El Paso, Texas) will have good views of most of the action, with the Moon setting at the end of or soon after totality. The farther west/northwest the viewer, the better the event. Los Angeles sees the end of totality in a brightening sky; the Moon sets before the second partial stage is complete. More northwesterly Seattle sees almost the entire eclipse, missing only the subtle end stage. Honolulu and Anchorage see every stage in an enjoyably dark sky. Alaska, Yukon, most of British Columbia, the Northwest Territories, parts of Nunavut, and Hawai'i see the eclipse from start to finish.

Totality falls on the evening of January 31st for eastern Asia and the far Pacific. China, Mongolia, Japan, Korea, Russia, New Zealand, the Philippines, and most of Indonesia and Australia will see the eclipse in its entirety. (Perth, you miss the opening minutes of the event, but this is no big deal as the subtle shadow in the early stages of a total eclipse isn't visible to the naked eye.)


Supernova SN 185 of 185AD could have been an exploding comet

Supernova SN 185
© Malaga Bay
One of the Jewels in the Crown of Settled Science that's been extracted from the mire of mainstream manuscripts and academic assertions is Supernova SN 185.
A supernova is a transient astronomical event that occurs during the last stellar evolutionary stages of a massive star's life, whose dramatic and catastrophic destruction is marked by one final titanic explosion.
The earliest recorded supernova, SN 185, was viewed by Chinese astronomers in 185 AD.


The gaseous shell RCW 86 is probably the supernova remnant of this event and has a relatively large angular size of roughly 45 arc minutes (larger than the apparent size of the full moon, which varies from 29 to 34 arc minutes).

The distance to RCW 86 is estimated to be 2,800 parsecs (9,100 light-years).

Recent X-ray studies show a good match for the expected age.

Supernova SN 185 is scientifically important because it's [supposed] remnants suggest a "titanic explosion" occurred in the "hollowed-out cavity" of an object in space.


Austria: Strange funnel-shaped luminescent cloud visible for 15 minutes in night sky

austria light
This light display appeared between 04:30h and 4:45 h on Tuesday morning 12-26-2017, over the Soboth in South-west Steiermark province Austria, the view in towards the East.

Gerald Reczek reported on twitter, as he was walking his dog in the early morning hours, he saw a light rise up from the horizon and and disperse within 15 minutes.

Severe Weather Europe responded and speculated is likely be the Russian Fregat upper stage burn on the launch of AngoSat communications satellite, Angola's first satellite, from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

According to SWE similar sightings were made in Romania.
No reason is given why a Russian rocket from Kazakhstan would be seen in Austria. Similar explanations were produced when the Norway Spiral appeared over Oslo in 2009.

Comment: The Russian rocket explanation seems unlikely. Whatever the immediate cause, perhaps this has something to do with the luminescence:
As we've theorized in Earth Changes and the Human Cosmic Connection, the atmosphere has become more electrically charged these days as it accumulates increased levels of comet dust (more generally termed 'meteor smoke') and volcanic dust. The atmospheric dust captures electrons that circulate from the (relatively) negatively-charged Earth to the positively-charged ionosphere, creating atmospheric regions with varying electric potential.

The atmosphere is not one homogeneous space - its electric potential varies according to elevation (as a general rule; the higher, the more positive) and to dust concentration (negatively-charged regions). The combustion particles in the rocket trail become electrically-charged (ionized) and when the electric potential difference between the ionized combustion particles and the surrounding space is sufficiently high, it glows.
See: SpaceX rocket launch spooks Californians with eerie glowing trail (VIDEOS)