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Sat, 16 Feb 2019
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Strange Skies


'Fire rainbow' cloud spotted over Weymouth, England

Fire firebow over Weymouth, England
© Charlotte and David Colohan
Several readers have been in touch with their pictures of a so-called Fire Rainbow which was spotted above Weymouth on Friday.

Vincent Betteridge was holidaying in the area with his wife when he noticed the unusual pattern and colours and managed to get some photos.

He said: "In the late afternoon we headed to the beach for a paddle and an ice cream and we had a few relaxing hours on the sand. At around 5.45pm I happened to glance skywards and noticed a very interesting rainbow-like pattern forming in the sky above. I quickly grabbed my phone and took a few pictures and a bit of video. A bit of Googling later and I believe it's known as a Circumhorizontal arc, or Fire Rainbow."


Rare fire rainbow spotted over southern China's Chongqing City

Fire rainbow over China
© Newsflare
A rare fire rainbow was spotted above southern China's Chongqing City on September 2.

The fire rainbow is a rare phenomenon, also known as a circumhorizontal arc, with the phenomenon only occurring when the sun rises more than 58° above the horizon.


'Rare and remarkable' activity detected on Earth during recent geomagnetic storm

polar light centre



When a geomagnetic storm erupts, most eyes naturally turn to the sky, looking for auroras. But during the surprisingly strong G3-class geomagnetic storm of Aug. 26th, there was action underfoot as well. Probes buried in the ground in Norway detected strong currents of electricity moving through the soil. This chart recording made by Rob Stammes at the Polarlightcenter in Lofoten shows wild swings in current during the storm's peak.

"The currents were remarkably strong," says Stammes, who has been monitoring ground currents outside his Arctic observatory for many years. "During the magnetic storm, voltages surged to 10mv/m or 10v/km. That's about 10 times stronger than normal. These are pretty rare readings without a strong solar flare during solar minimum."

Comment: Our Sun is entering solar minimum and the effects on Earth, above and below, as well on other planets, are becoming clear for all to see: For more, check out SOTT radio's: Behind the Headlines: Earth changes in an electric universe: Is climate change really man-made?


Our changing atmosphere: Stunning iridescent cloud over Mexico, complex solar halo over Russia and a triple rainbow over Norway

iridescent cloud mexico
© VK
In Merida, a cumulonimbus cloud was capped with a rainbow cloud on August 30, 2018.
This giant cumulonimbus cloud is capped by a rainbow was captured forming over the city of Merida in Yucatan, Mexico on August 30, 2018.
Look at this spectacular iridescent pileus cap over a gigantic cumulonimbus in Merida, Mexico on Aug 30th. It's like the cloud is being irradiated from above.

Comment: The strange sights in our skies are likely related to our quieting Sun and the increase in fireball activity (which deposits meteor dust). And these aren't the only signs of the great shifts occurring on our planet:

See also: And check out SOTT radio's: Behind the Headlines: Earth changes in an electric universe: Is climate change really man-made?


Russian astronomer captures multiple rare atmospheric phenomena on video in 1 night - Sprites, elves, airglow and meteors

Russian astronomer captures ALL 'rare' atmospheric phenomena in 1 night - Sprites, elves, airglow, meteors, aurora
Mysterious violet ring appears in the sky over Russia.

Elves are electromagnetic pulses generated by lightning strikes. Elves is an acronym for Emission of Light and Very Low Frequency Perturbations Due to Electromagnetic Pulse Sources. They look like doughnut-shaped flashes that spread laterally up to 186 miles. Atmospheric research indicates the brightness of elves is closely related to the peak current in a return lightning stroke (the movement of charges from the ground to the cloud), and that elves may be the most dominant type of TLEs in the atmosphere.

Elves are very rare and undetermined atmospheric phenomena.

Comment: It wasn't so long ago that atmospheric phenomena such as these were considered a rare occurrence and so to capture just one of these events would have been considered lucky. However, as is the case with the rapid shifts we're seeing on earth below - a serious uptick in powerful earthquakes, epic flooding, gaping fissures, sinkholes, and so on - the same dramatic shifts are being reflected in the skies above:

Fireball 5

Red sprites snapped during Perseid meteor shower

Red Sprites And Meteors Taken by martin popek on August 14, 2018 @ Nýdek, Czech republic
© Martin Popek
Red Sprites And Meteors August 14, 2018 @ Nýdek, Czech republic
Amateur astronomer of the Czech republic is a "sprite hunter." Every night his automated cameras in Nýdek scan the skies for exotic forms of upward directed lightning. On Aug. 14th, during the peak of the Perseid meteor shower, a sprite storm broke out:

"The sky above my hometown Nýdek was criss-crossed by sprites and meteors," says Popek. "I created this composite to summarize the action."

Comment: In recent years it has been shown that there is actually a direct relationship between fireball activity, meteor dust in the atmosphere and our increasingly strange skies:

Cloud Lightning

'Floating ball of fire' seen outside Essex, UK care home during thunderstorm

Ball lightning in Maastricht, Netherlands
© Joe Thomissen
A smaller 'ball of fire' than this one - shot in Maastricht in the Netherlands - was seen in Great Wakering.
The cause of this rare meteorological phenomenon has remained unexplained for centuries

A 'floating ball of fire' has been spotted during a thunderstorm outside an Essex care home.

The strange meteorological phenomenon, known as ball lightning, was reported by residents in a Great Wakering care home during last Friday's thunderstorms (August 10).

Ball lightning is usually associated with thunderstorms but lasts considerably longer than a normal lightning bolt.

Tom Defty, forecaster at the Essex Weather Centre, explained how this was only the third report of ball lightning he has come across during 20 years on the job.

"Residents at this care home reported that an orb of fire was floating in the gardens of the home," he said.

Cloud Grey

Mystery in the mesosphere: Noctilucent clouds TRIPLE compared to last August

NLCs on August 14, 2018 @ Hamnoy, Norway
© Paul Knightley
NLCs on August 14, 2018 @ Hamnoy, Norway.
This summer, something strange has been happening in the mesosphere. The mesosphere is a layer of the atmosphere so high that it almost touches space. In the rarefied air 83 km above Earth's surface, summertime wisps of water vapor wrap themselves around specks of meteor smoke. The resulting swarms of ice crystals form noctilucent clouds (NLCs), which can be seen glowing in the night sky at high latitudes.

And, no, that's not the strange thing.

Northern sky watchers have grown accustomed to seeing these clouds in recent years. They form in May, intensify in June, and ultimately fade in July and August. This year, however, something different happened. Instead of fading in late July, the clouds exploded with unusual luminosity. Kairo Kiitsak observed this outburst on July 26th from Simuna, Estonia:

"It was a mind-blowing display," says Kiitsak. "The clouds were visible for much of the night, rippling brightly for at least 3 hours."

Other observers saw similar displays in July and then, in August, the clouds persisted. During the first half of August 2018, reports of NLCs to Spaceweather.com have tripled compared to the same period in 2017. The clouds refuse to go away.

Researchers at the University of Colorado may have figured out why. "There has been an unexpected surge of water vapor in the mesosphere," says Lynn Harvey of Colorado's Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (LASP). This plot, which Harvey prepared using data from NASA's satellite-based Microwave Limb Sounder (MLS) instrument, shows that the days of late July and August 2018 have been the wettest in the mesosphere for the past 11 years:

Comment: Late-season surge in Noctilucent Clouds produces stunning displays
In 2017 a heat wave in the mesosphere melted those crystals, causing a brief "noctilucent blackout." Could something similar, but opposite, be happening now? Perhaps a cold spell in the mesosphere is extending the season.
In July an English astronomer reported photographing more noctilucent clouds in six weeks than in the last three years. See also: Are noctilucent clouds increasing because of the cooling climate, and the rise of fireball and volcanic activity?

layers of the atmosphere
With the rise in rare and unexplained phenomena in our skies, clearly something is changing in our atmosphere: Also check out SOTTs' monthly documentary: SOTT Earth Changes Summary - July 2018: Extreme Weather, Planetary Upheaval, Meteor Fireballs


Auroras discovered around brown dwarfs

Auroras on Brown Dwarf
© Caltech/Chuck Carter
Magnetic fields are common in space yet their origin is poorly understood. In stars, they generate spots and flares; in planets, they can create amazing auroral displays. Now, a team of astronomers has detected surprisingly strong magnetic fields in multiple brown dwarfs, failed stars that are too big to be planets but too small to ignite hydrogen fusion in their cores. The detections carried an even bigger surprise: unexpected auroral activity on a "rogue planet" that wanders the cosmos alone.

Melodie Kao (Arizona State University) and colleagues used the National Science Foundation's Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array to detect high-frequency radio emissions from four nearby brown dwarfs, with masses between 12 and 30 times the mass of Jupiter. Their magnetic fields are hundreds to thousands of times stronger than those around the Sun and power brilliant, radio-emitting aurorae similar to the Northern Lights on Earth. The results appear in the Astrophysical Journal Supplement Series (free preprint).

Among the brown dwarfs under study is SIMP0136, an object with a mass just below 13 times the mass of Jupiter - just below the dividing line that separates planets from brown dwarfs. Floating in interstellar space 20 light-years away, this planet is isolated - a "rogue planet."

On Earth, brilliant aurorae appear around the North and South Poles, where charged particles from the Sun stream in along Earth's magnetic field and crash into the upper atmosphere. A similar mechanism works at Jupiter, where the particles come from Jupiter's moons rather than the Sun. But unlike Earth and Jupiter, SIMP0136 is on its own - it either formed by itself or was flung out of another solar system. Either way, it doesn't have a parent star, so its aurorae can't come from interactions with a stellar wind.

Perhaps the planet hosts a moon of its own - but it's too soon to come to that conclusion. More observations are needed to confirm the origin of the radio emissions.

Cloud Grey

'Doom Nimbus': Incredible shelf cloud filmed over Anna, Illinois

shelf cloud illinois
© YouTube / Live Storm Chasers
Ominous wave-like clouds have been spotted over an American town, prompting cheeky users to make doomsday predictions and references to Steven King's and George R. R. Martin's works.

In a video posted online, a giant tsunami-shaped cloud structure is seen "rolling" onto the small town of Anna in southern Illinois.

Comment: Some other recent stunning cloud formations include: With the rise in rare and unexplained phenomena in our skies, clearly something is changing in our atmosphere: Also check out SOTTs' monthly documentary: SOTT Earth Changes Summary - June 2018: Extreme Weather, Planetary Upheaval, Meteor Fireballs