Welcome to Sott.net
Sun, 20 May 2018
The World for People who Think

Strange Skies

Bizarro Earth

Appearance of night-shining clouds has increased

Noctilucent Clouds
© Thinkstock
First spotted in 1885, silvery blue clouds sometimes hover in the night sky near the poles, appearing to give off their own glowing light. Known as noctilucent clouds, this phenomenon began to be sighted at lower and lower latitudes - between the 40th and 50th parallel - during the 20th century, causing scientists to wonder if the region these clouds inhabit had indeed changed - information that would tie in with understanding the weather and climate of all Earth.

A NASA mission called Aeronomy of Ice in the Mesosphere, or AIM, was launched in 2007 to observe noctilucent clouds, but it currently only has a view of the clouds near the poles. Now scientists have gathered information from several other missions, past and present, and combined it with computer simulations to systematically show that the presence of these bright shining clouds have indeed increased in areas between 40 and 50 degrees north latitude, a region which covers the northern third of the United Sates and the lowest parts of Canada. The research was published online in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres on March 18, 2014.

"Noctilucent clouds occur at altitudes of 50 miles above the surface - so high that they can reflect light from the sun back down to Earth," said James Russell, an atmospheric and planetary scientist at Hampton University in Hampton, Va., and first author on the paper. "AIM and other research has shown that in order for the clouds to form, three things are needed: very cold temperatures, water vapor and meteoric dust. The meteoric dust provides sites that the water vapor can cling to until the cold temperatures cause water ice to form."


Mysterious plume over New Mexico still baffling people

Mystery Radar Plume
© KOB4
A mysterious plume that showed up on National Weather Service radars is still puzzling people.

The radars first picked up the plume in Socorro County Monday evening, then went east into Texas and Oklahoma.

The weather service offices in El Paso and Albuquerque didn't know what caused it, so KOB Eyewitness News 4 called White Sands Missile Range. Officials there didn't know what it was.

KOB also called Holloman and Cannon Air Force bases. They were both just as baffled as everyone else. For now, the mystery remains.

Bizarro Earth

Unusual blue auroras seen over Norway

Northern Lights are usually green, and sometimes red. Those are the colors produced by oxygen when it is excited by electrons raining down from space. On Feb. 22nd, Micha Bäuml of Straumfjord, Norway, witnessed an appariton of aurora-blue:
Blue Auroras
© Micha Bäuml
Taken by Micha on February 22, 2014 @ Straumfjord Norway.
"All of a sudden the sky exploded," says Micha. "The aurora looked like a giant flame."

In auroras, blue is a sign of nitrogen. Energetic particles striking ionized molecular nitrogen (N2+) at very high altitudes produces a cold azure glow of the type captured in Micha's photo. Why it overwhelmed the usual hues of oxygen on Feb 22nd is unknown. Auroras still have the capacity to surprise.

Any auroras tonight, blue or otherwise, will be a bit of a surprise. Geomagnetic conditions are quiet. NOAA forecasters estimate a scant 5% chance of polar geomagnetic storms on March 3rd.

Ice Cube

"Three Suns" seen in Argentina

© Unknown
Sun Dog, or parhelion
Translated from Spanish by the SOTT Team

Yesterday, a few minutes after 7pm, Nature surprised the citizens of Santiago del Estero once again. This time "three suns" caught everyone's attention and raised doubts about the strange event that took place when the Sun made itself visible on the province's capital. As soon as the phenomenon was recorded, hundreds of witnesses used the social networks to upload pictures and find out about the origin of this event, making it obvious that this spectacle had not been missed by many.

The "three suns" were clearly visible in the sky, in the Western areas of the capital. This strange phenomenon barely lasted a few minutes until the Sun hid behind the horizon.

This is known as a parhelion (Sun Dog) and is produced by the effect of the sun's rays passing through ice crystal fragments in the atmosphere. Sometimes a bright reddish spot can be seen on both sides of the Sun .

In order for a full halo to be formed it is necessary for the ice crystals in the atmosphere to be spread out in all possible directions. However, that does not always occur. When the atmosphere is extremely quiet, the crystals tend to fall horizontally.

When the Sun is at a low altitude, these crystals happen to be in the right position to refract the Sun's light toward its sides, producing two sources of light next to it.

Bizarro Earth

Mysterious moon halos over Finland

Luminous halos around the Moon are nothing unusual, especially in wintertime Finland where the air is so often filled with ice. Crystals of frozen H2O catch the moonlight and bend it into a circular ring of light. A few nights ago, however, Sauli Koski of Muonio, Finland, witnessed a halo that was not circular, but elliptical:
Moon Halo
© Sauli Koski
"On Jan. 15th, the weather changed. As the temperature dropped from -7C to -37C, there were all kinds of ice halos to photograph," says Koski. "The best and rarest were these elliptical forms that lasted more than 20 minutes."

Although physicists have been studying ice halos for decades, not all are understood. "Elliptical halos are one of the puzzles," says atmospheric optics expert Les Cowley. " We can simulate them by invoking hexagonal plate-like crystals topped by almost flat pyramid faces. However, the simulations do not fit very well and such crystals are unphysical. Crystal facets like to form along planes where there are lots of atoms or molecules - almost flat pyramids do not fit the bill at all. Perhaps some peculiar distorted snowflake types instead?"

"These mysteries all add to the spice of halo observing, the beautiful, the unexpected, the unexplained, something new!"

Fireball 5

Increased levels of 'meteor-smoke' in upper atmosphere sees noctilucent clouds cover whole of Antarctica

NASA reports that rare, electric blue noctilucent clouds have reappeared over the South Pole, where the clouds are often spotted for five to ten days every year. NASA calls the clouds "a great geophysical light bulb" that are visible during the darkest nights.

The clouds were spotted by NASA's AIM spacecraft, which observed a "vast bank" of the clouds that began on November 20 and has expanded to blanket the entire continent, creating a rippling mass of particles that represent the highest clouds formed on earth. The clouds "glow" because of their altitude - they reflect light cast from a horizon we can't see from the ground. But what causes these clouds to form so high above the surface of the earth?

Last year, atmospheric scientists from Hampton University published a study revealing the discovery of "meteor smoke" in the clouds. When meteors get pulverized in the atmosphere, they leave behind a trail of tiny bits floating in the upper reaches of the atmosphere. It turns out that these microscopic "meteor clouds" provide the building blocks for noctilucent clouds - water molecules gather on the specs of dust, creating ice crystals.

Comment: NASA is blowing more 'meteor-smoke' in our eyes!

After acknowledging that NLCs are increasing due to the increased extraterrestrial factor, NASA then tries to blame rising methane levels from below, suggesting that human industrial activity is responsible for both.

This is a rather pathetic attempt to blame NLCs on 'man-made global warming'!

Rising methane levels are due to methane being released from deep under the oceans.

Increased NLCs are a 'canary in a coal mine' alright, but not in the way Official Science would have us believe.

Since Official Science won't spell it out for people, it's left to citizen observers to do so:

© SOTT.net

Bizarro Earth

Night-shining clouds show up early over South Pole

© LASP/University of Colorado
Observations from NASA's AIM spacecraft on Dec. 19, 2013, show noctilucent clouds (NLCs) over the South Pole.
Night-shining clouds started glowing high above Antarctica earlier than usual this year, observations from a NASA satellite show.

These rare types of wispy blue-white clouds are called noctilucent clouds, or NLCs. They form when water molecules freeze around "meteor smoke" close to the edge of space, typically about 50 to 53 miles (80 and 85 kilometers) above Earth's surface - so high that they can reflect light after the sun sets.

The phenomenon looks spectacular from the ground, but scientists also have watched these night-shining clouds from above with NASA's AIM (Aeronomy of Ice in the Mesosphere) satellite since 2007. Data from AIM indicate that noctilucent clouds started forming around the South Pole on Nov. 20 this year as a tiny spot of electric blue that quickly expanded to cover the entire frozen continent, as this NASA video shows.


Our changing atmosphere: V-shaped halo appears over setting sun in Florida

At the end of Thanksgiving Day when the sun was setting over Sumterville, Florida, Paula Phillips took a break from her meal, stepped outside and saw something odd--a pair of luminous 'Vs' in the deepening twilight:
V-Shaped Halo
© Paula Phillips
"I've never seen anything like this before," says Phillips. "I photographed the phenomenon with a simple small Samsung camera."

They're sun halos, caused by sunlight shining through ice crystals. Atmospheric optics expert Les Cowley explains:
"These two 'V' shaped halos, one rare and one common, change shape dramatically as the sun climbs," he says. "Near sunrise or sunset is the only time to catch them like this. The lower 'V' is an upper tangent arc from horizontal hexagonal prisms of ice.

The upper one is a rare sunvex Parry arc from similar crystals that - strangely - are fixed so that two prism faces are always horizontal. In the full-sized image, we also see just a trace of a 22o halo and stretching upwards from the sun a sun pillar."

Bizarro Earth

Rare weather event fills Grand Canyon with fog

Grand Canyon Fog
© National Park Service photo by Erin Whittaker
The Grand Canyon, filled with fog, in a rare weather event called a temperature inversion.
Usually the Grand Canyon offers stunning views stretching for miles, deep into valleys etched by the Colorado River. But that vista has changed over the past few days, as a rare weather event has filled the canyon with fog, offering an even more stunning view than is typical.

The weather event is known as a temperature inversion, and it only happens every few years, according to the National Park Service, who wrote about the event and posted photos of it on its Facebook page.

Temperature inversions typically happen in the winter when there are long nights, and as the name implies, an inversion takes place when a layer of cool air gets trapped underneath warmer air, according to the National Weather Service (NWS). This is the reverse of the usual pattern, with temperature generally decreasing with increasing altitude.


More evidence of comet dust loading in the atmosphere? 'Triple suns' appear in Mongolia

Chinese residents rushed out of doors to marvel a rare astronomical illusion of "triple suns" in the sky over Chifeng, in north China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region Friday morning.

The sun accompanied by two smaller twins suddenly popped up in the sky at around 09:00, and the triple appeared surrounded by an arched rainbow-like halos.

The astronomical illusion hang across over Chifeng for around two hours, and many residents took pictures or videos to record the magical moment out on the streets.

Some could even see five suns shining in some area of the city.

"I've got a lot of phone calls coming in from home and my friends when working in that building. They told me to go out and see the triple suns. So I rushed out to have a glimpse of them," said Zhou Lu, who was taking pictures of the suns along the roadside.

Comment: We at SOTT think that this "triple suns" is a 'mirage' effect of some sort whereby the sun is being refracted by the changed atmosphere. That is, a combination of possible comet dust loading and changes in the layers of the atmosphere is producing all sorts of anomalous phenomena. See the following articles for additional examples:

Spectacular Russian rocket launch - more evidence of comet dust loading our atmosphere
Strange Phenomenon: Sun rises two days early in Greenland, sparks fear
Two Suns in Russia?