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Sun, 27 May 2018
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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?

Bizarro Earth

Unusual cloud formations over New Zealand

Unusual Clouds
© Piers Fuller/Fairfax NZ
Unusual Sight: Japhy and Enzo Fuller look at the strange clouds over Masterton.

"Freaky" clouds in Wairarapa yesterday evening were caused by warm air "ski-jumping" off the Tararua Range into a rainy front, according to Metservice.

Wairarapa News journalist Piers Fuller was on the lawn outside his home east of Masterton at about 6pm last night, videoing an impromptu rugby game between his sons Japhy, 6, Enzo, 5 and daughter Juno, 2, when he noticed the sky looked "weird".

"I stopped and said, hey, look at these freaky clouds."

Commenters on the Wairarapa News Facebook page thought the clouds were Mammatus clouds, also known as "mammary clouds".

Metservice meteorologist Daniel Corbett agreed, saying mammatus normally form as a result of sinking air, hence their downward udder-like appearance, and often occur in the base of the anvil of a cumulonimbus, or thunderstorm, cloud.

However in this particular case the explanation was a warm north-west wind lifting up over the Tararua Range then falling into the leading edge of a rainy front creeping over the lower North Island last night, he said.

"When [the north-wester] comes over the Tararuas it's almost like a ski slope, it lifts the clouds then pushes them down... that downward motion can help create that type of formation."

Source: The Dominion Post


Astronomer captures incredible footage of noctilucent clouds and Northern Lights together in Scottish night sky

  • Maciej Winiarczyk, 41, captured the images in Caithness, Scotland
  • Noctilucent, or 'night-shining', clouds are normally too faint to be seen
  • Half way through the video the clouds are joined by a spectacular aurora
A stunning time-lapse video of a rare celestial show has been captured dancing across a night sky.

The recording gives a rare glimpse of rolling noctilucent clouds and dancing aurora glimmering across the horizon.

The astronomer witnessed the famous Northern Lights and 'night clouds' earlier this month, over a single night above Caithness, Scotland.

It is unusual to see either phenomena, and incredibly rare to see both simultaneously.

Noctilucent - or 'night-shining' - clouds are made of sunlight-reflecting ice crystals and are normally too faint to be seen from the ground.

The clouds are the highest in atmosphere at around 50 miles above the Earth's surface.

They are often photographed from aircraft in flight, from the International Space Station.

Comment: While it was once rare to see noctilucent clouds, it's becoming quite common these days due to increased comet dust in the upper atmosphere:

Global dust veil: Dust belt from the overhead cometary explosion in Russia raced around the world in just four days


Comet dust veil: Stunning image of crescent Moon appearing through noctilucent clouds

© NASA/ASI/ESA. Via Luca Parmitano on Twitter
The Moon rises surrounded by noctilucent clouds, as seen from the International Space Station.

Recently, Italian astronaut Luca Parmitano spent a "night flight" in the Cupola of the International Space Station in hopes of capturing night-time images of his home country from space. But he saw so much more, including this incredible image of the crescent Moon rising among bright blue noctilucent clouds. These wispy and mysterious clouds appear in Earth's mesosphere - a region extending from 30 to 53 miles (48-85 km) high in the atmosphere - at twilight, usually in early summer. They can be seen from Earth's northern hemisphere and, obviously, are visible from space too.

You can read about Parmitano's night flight and see more of the images he took at his Volare blog. At the close of his image-taking night flight he says, "It's late, and tomorrow will be a long day. With those lights still filling my eyes, I slowly close the seven windows and cross the Station to return to my sleeping pod. Not even dreams could replace the beautiful reality that revolves, oblivious, beneath us."

Find out more about the science of noctilucent clouds here in our recent article by Bob King.

Bizarro Earth

The mystery of the highway in the sky: Sunbeams, clouds and strange shadows caused atmospheric phenomenon in China

When a strange 'highway' was spotted in the skies in China, few people knew what had caused the unusual astronomical phenomenon.

After investigating, meteorological experts think the bizarre pathway was created by a combination of sunbeams 'cast from over the horizon,' clouds high in the sky and shadows.

The striking photos of the unusual astronomical phenomena were spotted in the sky above Boao Town of Qionghai City in Hainan Province, South China.
© Caters New Agency
An unusual astronomical phenomena above the sky in Boao Town of Qionghai City, Hainan Province in South China. Few people knew what had caused the unusual astronomical phenomenon.
Mark Selzer, forecaster at the Met Office, told MailOnline: 'It's hard to be completely sure from a picture, but it's likely this [sight] is due to a phenomenon known as crepuscular rays - or sunbeams - being cast from over the horizon.

Comment: Just to clarify, these are atmospheric phenomena, not astronomical.