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Mon, 19 Nov 2018
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Strange Skies


Rare solar show lights up the skies over Aomori Prefecture in Japan

Halo over Japan
© Takuto Usuda
Photos of a rare dual atmospheric phenomenon that produced a ring of light around the sun along with a horizontal rainbow in the skies over the prefecture at around noon on May 7 went viral on Twitter.

"It made me feel so lucky because it's rare to see such a phenomenon," said Takuto Usuda, 21, a fourth-year student at Hirosaki University, who posted photos to Twitter of the colorful spectacle.

It is extremely rare for an horizontal rainbow, known as a circumhorizon arc, and a sun halo, when a circle of light forms around the sun, to be seen in the sky at the same time, according to the Aomori Meteorological Observatory.


Stunning 'fire rainbow' appears in Kentucky sky

An unusual but spectacular sight, known as a fire rainbow, was spotted near Hazard, Kentucky, on Sunday.
Circumhorizontal arc
© Michael Herald
This phenomenon, which resembles a piece of a brightly colored rainbow, is also known as a circumhorizontal arc.

The name fire rainbow comes from its bright rainbow colors and almost flame-like shape.

Unlike rainbows, circumhorizontal arcs occur from the refraction of sunlight through hexagonal, plate-shaped ice crystals when the sun is 58 degrees above the horizon and no rainfall is involved. Sunlight enters these ice crystals and splits into individual colors, like a prism.


Circumhorizontal arc spotted over northern Alabama

Circumhorizon arc over Alabama
We receive a lot of great photos from our viewers, including pictures of cool phenomena like the circumhorizon arc sent in to us Tuesday afternoon by Willis Brannon!

The circumhorizon arc looks like an upside down rainbow, but it's formed differently. Rainbows occur when light is refracted by water droplets, usually just after rain. Circumhorizon arcs however are one of many halos that can be formed by light's interaction with ice crystals.

Ice crystals are found high in the sky and can refract light into a variety of halos and shapes depending on where the sun is in the sky relative to the ice crystals and what kind of crystals are present. To form a circumhorizon arc the light is refracted by plate crystals oriented so that the light can enter through the plate's side.


Ghostly mirage appears above sea in East China

ghostly mirage
© YouTube/CGTN
Watch a video of a rare optical phenomenon that can be seen near the sea, as well as in desert and polar regions, and usually reminds people of ghostly castles and buildings.

Ghostly mirages that looked like a block of apartments appeared near a beach in Qingdao, east China. The mirages were visible for two hours and only a few people managed to capture them on camera.

Cloud Grey

Temperature plummets as mysterious cold fog descends on beach during heatwave in England

fog devon beach 2018
Sunbathers enjoying the start of the bank holiday were caught unawares at a Devon beach when freezing fog suddenly descended.

The freak weather conditions appeared to come out of nowhere, stunning people who had flocked to Woolacombe Beach in Devon to make the most of the heatwave and the start of the long break.

The popular beach was said to be cleared "in minutes" as temperatures plummeted suddenly after the cold fog suddenly appeared.

The scenes at Woolacombe Beach, north Devon, were in stark contrast to scenes up and down the country as holidaymakers and locals flocked to the beaches to soak up the sun.

Comment: A heatwave and freezing fog, one would think it's an unlikely combination:


Strange auroral arc 'STEVE' observed in US, farther south than usual

© Alan Dyer
On Saturday, May 5th, a stream of solar wind engulfed Earth, sparking G1 and G2-class geomagnetic storms through the weekend. High atop Earth's atmosphere, hot ribbons of plasma began to flow through our planet's magnetic field. Suddenly, STEVE appeared. Alan Dyer photographed the mauve ribbon of light over Gleichen, Alberta.

"STEVE, the strange auroral arc, put in quite the appearance on Sunday night, with a fine show over southern Alberta lasting about an hour," says Dyer. "It started as a faint arc in the east, then intensified, cutting across the entire sky."

STEVE (Strong Thermal Emission Velocity Enhancement) was discovered by sky watchers in Alberta only a few years ago, although the phenomenon was surely active long before. The narrow ribbon is related to auroras, but has a distinct shape, color, and habitat. Researchers are now beginning to understand STEVE as a manifestation of hot plasma currents in the upper atmosphere.

Elizabeth MacDonald of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center recently published a paper on STEVE. In it, they link STEVE to a phenomenon called "subauroral ion drifts" (SAIDs). Satellites have tracked thousands of SAIDs: They tend to appear most often during spring and fall and seem to prefer latitudes near +60 degrees.

This weekend, STEVE traveled farther south than usual. Greg Ash saw the ribbon over Ely, Minnesota, at latitude +47.9 N:

Comment: Sightings of STEVE and other atmospheric events appear to be increasing. 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.


Plasma event? 'Crazy sky phenomena' filmed in Raytown, Missouri

Strange skies in MO
© YouTube/MSGleebicus
YouTuber 'MsGleebicus' uploaded video of strange phenomena she witnessed in the skies of Missouri on April 13, 2018:
Watch on silent to enjoy without screaming children.


'Rare' sun halo seen over Bhubaneswar, India

Sun halo over India
© The New Indian Express
People in the Capital were treated to a rare phenomenon in the sky on Thursday. In an unusual sight, the sun was surrounded by a halo.The ring of light around the sun was witnessed between 10 am and 11 am. The spectacular sky view remained for over half-an-hour leaving the spectators awestruck.

"I spotted a ring like formation around the sun when I was on my way to office at about 10.15 am. It was really a spectacular sight. I had never seen such a scene before. Initially I thought something scary is going to happen but later I came to know that it was a halo," said Jitendra Nayak, a resident of Satya Nagar.

However, scientists reasoned it as an effect of both refraction and reflection of light from ice crystals moving in the space. Astronomers said such phenomenon occurs as reflection of light is produced at 22 degrees from the sun. The halo occurs when sunlight refracts through a high band of cirrus clouds around 7 km above the ground. The cirrus clouds contain millions of individual ice crystals formed out of super cooled water droplets in the air.


Mysterious booms rattle UK and US residents in April 2018 and nobody knows where they came from

loud booms in the sky
You have reported on my blog and Facebook page many mysterious booms in April 2018. Thank you for that. I will list here 4 news articles featuring loud booming sounds in the UK and the USA, showing that the cause of this strange phenomenon still remains unknown... And finally I will try to give some possible explanations for these loud but unknown rumblings.

Loud boom remains a mystery for Bellingham residents on April 23, 2018

Plenty of theories were floated on social media Monday night and Tuesday morning about the cause of a large boom that was heard from Everson to Bellingham and west to Blaine around 7 p.m. Monday. According to reports, the boom shook houses, though no reports of damage were mentioned. - Bellingham Herald

Michigan Township rattled by mysterious explosion on April 22, 2018

Some people living in and near Bedford Township in Southeast Michigan have reported hearing a loud "boom" that they say sounded, and felt, like an explosion just before 8:30 Sunday evening. And of course the mystery continues. - 13 ABC


Dwarf V392 Persei undergoes a rare nova outburst

In a rare move, a sleepy cataclysmic variable blows its top and suddenly becomes a nova.

V392 Nova
© Stellarium
Although low in the sky at nightfall, there's still time to observe the nova outburst. V392 Per is located near the junction of Auriga, Perseus, and Camelopardalis about 5° west of bright Capella. A more detailed AAVSO chart is below.
The dwarf nova V392 Persei, which only gets as bright as magnitude 14 during outburst, appears to have undergone a rare nova outburst. The sudden and steep brightening was discovered photographically on April 29th by Yuji Nakamura of Japan, who recorded the star at magnitude 6.2. Spectra obtained shortly thereafter with the 2.4-meter Hiltner telescope on Kitt Peak confirm the explosion as a nova.

Had the Moon not brightened the sky, the outburst would have been visible with the naked eye from a dark site.