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Mon, 14 Oct 2019
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Strange Skies


Unusual cloud phenomenon captured over Bangsar, Malaysia

Bangsar cloud
© Facebook/Michael Liew
Bangsar residents were stopped in their tracks recently after they spotted an unusual phenomenon in the sky.

Several Facebook users in "The Republic of Bangsar #TROB" group shared pictures of the visual spectacle that occurred on the evening of May 28.

The photos show thick clouds with aurora-like lights peeking out from behind, creating a bright burst of colour in the sky.

Group member Michael Liew suggested that the event might have been a crown flash, a rare weather phenomenon caused by sunlight reflecting or refracting off small ice crystals in the clouds.

"Blessed that I managed to witness this elusive and majestic phenomenon. Mother Nature is truly amazing," he wrote.

Several users took to the comments section to share their own pictures taken at different locations.

"Was driving back from Kajang (and I was) awestruck by its beauty," said Gaithri Selvarajah.


NASA to form artificial night-time clouds over Marshall Islands to study atmosphere

WINDY Launcher
© Space Daily
File image of a WINDY payload launcher.
A NASA rocket mission to study disturbances in the upper atmosphere, which interfere with communication and technology systems, will form night-time white artificial clouds visible by residents of the Republic of the Marshall Islands during two rocket flights to occur between June 9 - 21, 2019.

This the second flight of the Waves and Instabilities from a Neutral Dynamo, or WINDY, mission. The mission this time is referred to as Too-WINDY - it's catchier than WINDY 2.

Too-WINDY will study a phenomenon that occurs in the ionosphere - a layer of charged particles in the upper atmosphere. Known as equatorial spread F, or ESF, these disturbances occur after sunset at latitudes near the equator in part of the ionosphere known as the F region. The disturbances can interfere with radio communication, navigation and imaging systems and pose a hazard to technology and society that depends on it.

The Too-WINDY mission consists of two NASA suborbital sounding rockets that will be launched five minutes apart in a window between 8 p.m. and 3.a.m. local time (4 a.m. and 1 p.m. EDT) June 9 - 21 from Roi-Namur. The Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands is near the magnetic equator, where post-sunset ionosphere storms are more intense, making the site an ideal location for these studies.


Rainbow cake in the sky: Stunning circumhorizontal arc appears in Singapore

Circumhorizontal arc over Singapore
© Via Facebook/All Singapore Stuff
Singapore witnessed a similar sky phenomenon two years ago, although experts from the Meteorological Service Singapore have claimed that the unusual sight was an iridescent cloud.

A unique rainbow-like celestial phenomenon has been spotted in Singapore. A Facebook community called All Singapore Stuff posted a video showing a mesmerizing iridescent cloud shimmering in the sky.


Solar winds spark 'rainbow auroras' northwest of Calgary, Canada

Earth is inside a stream of solar wind flowing from a hole in the sun's atmosphere. First contact with the gaseous material on May 29th produced an outburst of colorful auroras over Canada. Harlan Thomas photographed the display northwest of Calgary:

Rainbow auroras NW of Calgary
© Harlan Thomas
"The outburst was filled with amazing hues from blue to pink," says Thomas. "The aurora danced the dance of colors that only it can produce."
Rainbow auroras NW of Calgary
© Harlan Thomas
NOAA forecasters expect solar wind effects to continue for another 24 to 48 hours. Full-fledged geomagnetic storms are unlikely, but intermittent auroras may be seen in northern places where the waxing midnight sun has not yet wiped out the night sky.


'Rare' fire rainbow seen at New Jersey Shore

Fire rainbow at Jersey Shore
© Packy McCormick/Twitter
A rare fire rainbow was spotted at the Jersey Shore on Sunday.

Twitter user @packyM captured the rare site on the beach in Avalon, NJ near 64th Street.

These are neither fire nor rainbows. Technically they are known as a circumhorizontal arc, an ice halo formed by hexagonal, plate-shaped ice crystals in high-level cirrus clouds. The halo is so large that the arc appears parallel to the horizon, hence the name.

These appear mostly during the summer and only in particular latitudes. When the sun is very high in the sky, sunlight entering flat, hexagon-shaped ice crystals gets split into individual colors just like in a prism.

Comment: Twitter user @MeganErber also photographed the strange cloud over Sea Isle beach in New Jersey:
Fire rainbow over Sea Isle beach, NJ
© Via Twitter@MeganErber
Twitter user @PackyM also posted another picture from a friend of a circumzenithal arc over Japan that same day:


Stunning sun halo seen over Grand Cayman Island

Sun halo over Grand Cayman Island
© cnslocallife.com
Sun halo seen from Grand Cayman on Saturday, 18 May.
Nature provided some excellent picture shows in the sky Saturday after a beautiful sun halo emerged at lunchtime followed by a stunning full flower (blue) moon rising in the evening. A sun halo is caused by very high, thin clouds made from ice crystals.

The properties of the ice crystals reflect and refract light in such a way as to cause a ring around the sun. The rings typically proceed unsettled weather; it is said a halo around the sun or moon means rain or snow is on the way. Let's hope it's snow.


Moon's nearside-farside asymmetries the result of a giant impact says new study

Collision between two planetary bodies
© NASA/JPL-Caltech
Artist’s depiction of a collision between two planetary bodies. New research suggests the stark difference between the Moon’s heavily-cratered farside and the lower-lying open basins of the nearside were caused by a wayward dwarf planet colliding with the Moon in the early history of the solar system.
WASHINGTON-The stark difference between the Moon's heavily-cratered farside and the lower-lying open basins of the Earth-facing nearside has puzzled scientists for decades.

Now, new evidence about the Moon's crust suggests the differences were caused by a wayward dwarf planet colliding with the Moon in the early history of the solar system. A report on the new research has been published in AGU's Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets.

The mystery of the Moon's two faces began in the Apollo era when the first views of its farside revealed the surprising differences. Measurements made by the Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) mission in 2012 filled in more details about the structure of the Moon - including how its crust is thicker and includes an extra layer of material on its farside.

There are a number of ideas that have been used to try and explain the Moon's asymmetry. One is that there were once two moons orbiting Earth and they merged in the very early days of the Moon's formation. Another idea is that a large body, perhaps a young dwarf planet, found itself in an orbit around the Sun that put it on a collision course with the Moon. This latter giant impact idea would have happened somewhat later than a merging-moons scenario and after the Moon had formed a solid crust, said Meng Hua Zhu of the Space Science Institute at Macau University of Science and Technology and lead author of the new study. Signs of such an impact should be visible in the structure of the lunar crust today.

"The detailed gravity data obtained by GRAIL has given new insight into the structure of the lunar crust underneath the surface," Zhu said.


Circumzenithal arc seen in skies of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

Today's Ask Storm Team 11 question: What makes a cloud rainbow?
Circumzenithal arc over Myrtle Beach, SC
© Eva Higginson

This question was submitted by Eva Higginson. A cloud rainbow could be either a circumzenithal arc or what we call iridescence. The photo that Eva submitted, pictured is likely a circumzenithal arc.


Rare blue aurora and STEVE photographed over Calgary, Canada

blue aurora steve
© Taken by Harlan Thomas on May 11, 2019 @ NorthWest of Calgary, Alberta
Storm conditions developed later as Earth moved into the CMEs turbulent wake couldnt have been more true as these images protest, but to see these incredible blue pillars was out of this world. And top it off STEVE showed for several minutes
Northern Lights are usually green, sometimes red. Those are the colors we see when oxygen is hit by electrons raining down from space during a geomagnetic storm. On Friday night, May 11, 2019, however, Harlan Thomas of Calgary, Alberta, witnessed a different color: DEEP BLUE

Harlan Thomas: "To see these incredible blue pillars was out of this world," says Thomas.

In auroras, blue is a sign of nitrogen. Energetic particles striking ionized molecular nitrogen (N2+) at very high altitudes can produce a blue glow rarely seen during auroral displays. In this case, it was the afterglow of a CME impact.

The CME left the sun on May 6th, propelled in our direction by an explosion in the magnetic canopy of sunspot AR2740. When it finally arrived on May 10th, the slow-moving storm cloud rattled Earth's magnetic field, triggering a minor G1-class geomagnetic storm. Auroras were sighted in parts of Canada as well as US States such as Michigan and Minnesota.

Comment: For more on our changing skies, see: For an idea of what's driving these changes, check out SOTT radio's Behind the Headlines: Earth changes in an electric universe: Is climate change really man-made? as well as our monthly documentary SOTT Earth Changes Summary - April 2019: Extreme Weather, Planetary Upheaval, Meteor Fireballs:


'Ring around the sun' seen in Santa Ana, Costa Rica

I have never seen this before. Googling it, I learned a halo or ring around the sun is a fairly common phenomenon, typically caused when there are very high, very thin clouds, clouds, being so high in the sky, made from ice crystals, refracting and reflecting the light.
Sun halo over Costa Rica
© QCostaRica/Rico
This is the view in the sky over Santa Ana (and suspect most of Costa Rica) this morning.