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Wed, 23 May 2018
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Strange Skies


Double moon halo seen over Hampton, New Hampshire

A 22-degree lunar halo, with a 9-degree lunar halo inside it
Moon halo  over NH
© Josh Blash
This photo - taken January 28, 2018, by Josh Blash in Hampton, New Hampshire - shows what's called a halo around the moon. These sorts of halos are made by ice crystals in the upper air. In fact, there are two halos here, with the outer one being the common 22-degree halo, whose image we see several times each day in photos sent in by people around the world. The inner halo is more rare. We asked sky optics guru Les Cowley of the website Atmospheric Optics about the inner halo, and he said:

Cloud Grey

Stunning iridescent cloud captured over Ribeirao Claro, Brazil (VIDEO)

Rainbow cloud over Brazil
© Andre Nassif
The meteorological phenomenon, known as cloud iridescence, was seen above Ribeirao Claro, Brazil.
Stunning video captured a rainbow in the clouds over Ribeirao Claro, Brazil, in a meteorological phenomenon known as cloud iridescence.

Iridescence like this happens when the clouds are very thin and are made of similar-sized water droplets.

What you're seeing, essentially, is part of a corona -- when a rainbow-like halo engulfs the sun or the moon -- and the bands and colors change as the cloud evolves.

Iridescence is most often seen close to the sun.

It's usually spotted when part of a cloud is forming because that's when all of the water droplets have a similar history and similar size.

Comment: A few days ago spectacular polar stratospheric clouds were captured over Peru. It is likely that atmospheric dust loading from increased comet and volcanic activity is contributing to the 'strange skies' we are witnessing, the cooling effect of which causes ice crystals to form. 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.


Lunar Eclipse on January 31st

Lunar Eclipse Jan 2018
© Sky & Telescope
Events for the total lunar eclipse on the morning of January 31, 2018. This version is labeled for Universal Time (UT). The event's timing favors western North America, where totality is observable before dawn, and eastern Asia and Australia, where it occurs after sunset.
Given its predawn timing and the vagaries of winter weather, relatively few of us will get to watch the Moon's eerie glide through Earth's shadow on January 31st. And so ordinarily I wouldn't expect the news media to pay much attention to this event this event.

But Wednesday's total lunar eclipse is different. Depending on where you look for news, headlines are calling it a "super blue blood Moon" or "blue blood super moon" - a sky spectacle not seen in more than 150 years!

It's true that January 31st will be a busy day for Luna. First, there is indeed a total lunar eclipse, the first in nearly 2½ years visible anywhere. As we've noted elsewhere, those living near the West Coast and most everywhere around the Pacific Rim will have the best views. The Moon usually takes on a deep red or coppery color during totality, hence the often-used term "blood Moon" to describe its appearance. Those of us stuck on the East Coast of the U.S. will be challenged to see much of anything as the Moon sinks out of sight in the west as the Sun comes up.

Second, this event falls on the second full Moon of the month, what's often called a "Blue Moon." And, third, the eclipse comes just 27 hours after the Moon reaches perigee, its closest orbital point to Earth. Lots of you have no doubt heard this extra-close full Moon called a "super-moon."

Yes, it's an astronomical trifecta. But it's not nearly as rare as you might have heard.

Cloud Grey

Spectacular polar stratospheric clouds captured over Peru (PHOTOS)

Polar clouds over Peru
© Red Climática Mundial/David Alvarado
Stunning polar stratospheric clouds were captured by David Alvarado over Lamas, in the region of San Martín, Peru on January 18, 2018.

Polar stratospheric clouds, also known as nacreous clouds (or mother of pearl, due to its iridescence), are clouds in the winter polar stratosphere at altitudes of 15,000-25,000 meters (49,000-82,000 ft). Usually the clouds only form over the poles during winter because the air in the upper stratosphere needs to be at least -78C.

These images were posted on Red Climática Mundial (Global Climate Network).

Polar stratospheric clouds over Peru
© Red Climática Mundial/David Alvarado


First time in 150 years: RT's guide to the 'super blue blood moon' event

Blood moon
© Andrea De Silva / Reuters
Stargazers in North America will get their reward for labouring through the January blues with a lunar event 150 years in the making at the end of this month.

A rare confluence of a blue moon, a supermoon, a blood moon and a total lunar eclipse will be visible in the sky over parts of the US and Canada on January 31 - the first time a 'super blue blood moon' has happened since March 31, 1866.

What is a 'super blue blood moon' anyway?

Supermoons, which occur when the moon is full at the same time it is at its closest approach to the Earth, appear 14 percent bigger and 30 percent brighter than normal full moons. The forthcoming supermoon is the last in a trilogy that began on December 3 with the second visible on New Year's Day. The third is now due to arrive at the end of the month. However, because it is the second full moon in the same month, the phenomenon is also a "blue moon."


Super blue blood moon promises a triple whammy of lunar treats on January 31

Blood moon
© Rebecca Naden / Reuters
The Moon will put on quite the show at the end of the month, as a very rare, "super blue blood moon" will appear in the skies on January 31.

A super blue blood moon happens when three different lunar events happen at once - a supermoon, a blue moon and a blood moon combining to offer sky gazers a triple whammy of lunar treats.

A supermoon happens when the moon's perigee - when its orbit is closest to earth - occurs at the same time as a full moon. It makes the Moon seem much larger than normal, by about 14 percent, NASA explains.

A blue moon appears when there are two full moons in one month. Despite the saying, "once in a blue moon," these moons turn out about once every 2.7 years.


Another possible nova in constellation Circinus

Following the posting on the Central Bureau's Transient Object Confirmation Page about a possible Nova in Circinus (TOCP Designation: PNV J13532700-6725110) I performed some follow-up of this object through a TEL 0.43-m f/6.8 reflector + CCD from MPC Code Q62 (iTelescope Observatory, Siding Spring).

On images taken on January 20.6, 2018 I can confirm the presence of an optical counterpart with R-filtered CCD magnitude +8.09 & V-filtered CCD magnitude +8.33 at coordinates:

R.A. = 13 53 27.57, Decl.= -67 25 01.0

(equinox 2000.0; Gaia DR1 catalogue reference stars for the astrometry).

This transient has been reported to CBAT/TOCP by John Seach, Chatsworth Island, NSW, Australia. Discovery made with a DSLR with 50 mm f/1.2 lens.
Below my confirmation image (single unfiltered 60-sec exposure through a 0.43-m f/6.8 reflector + CCD; MPC Code Q62). Click on the image for a bigger version:

Nova in Circinus
© Remanzacco Blog

Comment: Possible nova in southern Constellation Musca


Noctilucent rocket fumes filmed over Okinawa Island, Japan

Epsilon-3 launch
© Kagaya
On Jan. 18th, the Japanese space agency JAXA launched a small rocket from the Uchinoura Space Center. It made a big display. Japanese artist and photographer Kagaya captured dramatic images of the rocket's exhaust glowing in the starry pre-dawn sky over the Pacific:

"I watched the launch from Okinawa Island and photographed it using my Sony α7RIII camera," says Kagaya, who has posted a must-see video of the event on Youtube.

Grey Alien

UFO video is the start of 'War of the Worlds' claims US Navy pilot

War of the Worlds
© Outer Places
The world is still adjusting to the discovery that the Pentagon maintained a secret UFO program for over the past half a decade.

Emboldened by the news, many UFO enthusiasts and genuine experts have begun weighing in on the matter, arguing either for or against the existence of the alien visitors that the US government is so eager to study.

One of the most compelling pieces of evidence suggesting that UFOs really are the result of highly advanced technology comes in the form of footage from two F/A-18F super hornets who, in 2004, spotted a white "tic-tac" shaped aircraft off the coast of San Diego.

Grey Alien

Mysterious gamma rays are alien messages claims MIT astronomer

© YouTube
Gamma rays may be most famous for creating The Incredible Hulk, but outside of the world of fiction, they're a fantastic source of discussion among scientists who are trying to uncover the mysteries of the stars.

Gamma radiation can travel a long distance, and can potentially prove harmful under the right conditions, but its longevity means that it gives us the opportunity to learn more about distant star systems, and the enormous explosions that take may place within massive stars as they turn into supernovas or bubble away into black holes.

As exciting as these events are to observe, one MIT astronomer by the name of John A Ball has an even more intriguing theory as to what these gamma bursts are caused by. In a paper entitled Gamma Ray Bursts The ETI [extraterrestrial intelligence] Hypothesis, Ball suggests that the explosions that trigger gamma bursts might actually be communications from across the stars.