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Tue, 17 Oct 2017
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Strange Skies


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Oral accounts of Aboriginal Australians referenced red giants

© SKA Organisation/Alex Cherney/terrastro.com
View of the Milky Way over one of the Australian Square Kilometer Array Pathfinder antennas, in the Australian outback.
Australian Aborigines probably observed the cyclical changes in the brightness of pulsating red giant stars such as Antares, Betelgeuse, and Aldebaran. They integrated their observations into their oral traditions - cultural narratives that served as a system of laws, social rules, and general knowledge transmission.

European astronomers realized that red giants changed in brightness in 1596, when David Fabricius registered the variability of the star Mira. Johannes Hevelius went on to calculate the amplitude and periodicity of Mira's changes in 1662. But the oral traditions of Australian Aborigines could go much further back in time: they have inhabited the fifth continent for more than 65,000 years. Research examining oral tradition for geological events, such as volcanic eruptions or meteorite impacts, have shown that such oral traditions can survive for thousands of years.

Duane Hamacher (Monash University and University of Southern Queensland, Australia), found new references to variable stars after reinterpreting the accounts of 19th- and 20th-century anthropologists and ethnologists, who recorded some of the Aboriginal oral traditions. His results are being published in a new study in the Australian Journal of Anthropology.

According to Hamacher, anthropologists sometimes misinterpreted Aboriginal accounts in the past, wrongfully assuming them to refer to planets in the solar system rather than stars.

"Many anthropologists had limited training in astronomy, so misidentifications, conflated terminology, and errors were not uncommon," Hamacher says. "Mars and Antares are often mixed up because of their comparable brightness and occasional close proximity."

Hamacher found two oral traditions that referenced the variable stars Betelgeuse, Antares and Aldebaran. Their changes in brightness carried important weight in the narratives and helped encode certain social rules, such as signaling to the tribe when to celebrate initiation rituals.

This is the first clear evidence of indigenous peoples observing and recording stellar variation in oral traditions. The only widely accepted record of a pulsating variable comes from an Egyptian papyrus called the Cairo calendar, which predicted good and bad luck periods throughout the year, dated around 1200 B.C. A statistical analysis of those periods revealed that they followed the variation of the eclipsing binary star Algol.

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The Earth - Mars Connection

© Acksblog
Fig. 1 UV image of solar corona, indicating temperatures of millions of degrees.
As discussed in a number of previous posts, Mars became captured in a geostationary orbit 36,000 km above Mt. Kailas, in the TransHimalayas, for 14.4 years and then was released into a planetary orbit for 15.6 years. This 30-year cycle was repeated one hundred times between 3687 and 687 BC, and observed by one hundred generations of mankind who incorporated observations of these events in ancient texts. In the Rig Veda the capture periods were called kalpas and 'days of Brahma'. In Egyptian myth they were called 'inundations' due to the tidal effect of Mars (Horus on the Horizon), which drew the Nile waters across eastern Egypt, increasing the fertility there.

During each kalpa, Mars exerted a continuous tidal effect on the Deccan Traps volcanism, drawing the subsurface asthenosphere rock upward producing an additional 20-meter thick layer, 'traps' meaning steps. Therefore, the Deccan Traps represent a geological clock covering approximately 3000 to 687 BC, herein dubbed the Vedic Period. It is impossible to drill through the many layers of the Deccan Traps. Instead, different provinces have been dated, where older sections of the traps are exposed.

This has proven difficult for several reasons. Most significantly, the 'Trap' rocks do not give the ancient dates that geologists expected, because they are less than 6,000 years old. Geologists maintain that potassium-argon, (K-Ar), dating does not work because the isotope ratios of argon in the atmosphere have changed.

That is true, because the entire atmosphere of the Earth changed during the Vedic Period due to the influx of the entire Martian atmosphere.

To overcome this apparent obstacle, geologists have reverted to using the thin layers of material between the actual steps, called 'separates', assuming it is also of earthly origin. But these thin layers comprise material from Mars which fell from the atmosphere between kalpas. Although the (U-Pb) in zircons in the separates have a wide range of ages, those with the ages supporting the hypothetical Cenezoic period are chosen, thereby justifying the age of deepest layers of the Deccan Traps at 66 million years BP. The 'separate'layers are proof that there was significant time between each of the one hundred rock layers.

Cassiopaea

Most luminous white dwarf eruption spotted by astronomers

University of Leicester contributes to best-ever results on a 'new star' in a nearby galaxy.
© OGLE survey
Astronomers have today announced that they have discovered possibly the most luminous 'new star' ever - a nova discovered in the direction of one of our closest neighboring galaxies: The Small Magellanic Cloud.

Astronomers from the University of Leicester contributed to the discovery by using the Swift satellite observatory to help understand what was likely the most luminous white dwarf eruption ever seen.

A nova happens when an old star erupts dramatically back to life. In a close binary star system consisting of a white dwarf and a Sun-like companion star, material is transferred from the companion to the white dwarf, gradually building up until it reaches a critical pressure. Then uncontrolled nuclear burning occurs, leading to a sudden and huge increase in brightness. It is called a nova because it appeared to be a new star to the ancients.

Rainbow

Stunning fire rainbow illuminates the sky in a multi-colored display of light in northern Thailand

This was the stunning moment a large fire rainbow appeared through the clouds.

Onlookers captured the beautiful sight in Chiang Mai province, northern Thailand, last Friday at 4pm local time.

The phenomenon - known as a circumhorizontal arc - is caused by sunlight shining through tiny ice crystals suspended in the atmosphere.

It causes a stunning rainbow-like effect that appears like a glowing ball of multi-coloured bright light in the sky.


Cloud Grey

Tube-shaped funnel cloud spotted in Niigat, Japan

© Screengrab via Daily Mail
An amazing tube-shaped cloud struck awe into witnesses when it was filmed in the sky above Japan.

The tube of pale cloud filmed in the city of Niigata in central Japan's Chubu Region looks only a few inches wide in the clip, snaking down from a sky full of dark grey clouds above, though its apparent size may be an optical illusion.

Japanese media reported that locals who witnessed the tube cloud were 'awe-struck' by the phenomenon.


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Picket fence auroras and plasma ropes, electrical phenomenon in Earth's skies intensifies

© JB Hawkins Photography
A photo of "Steve" as seen from Darrington, Wash. on Sept. 27, 2017
With the geomagnetic storm on September 29-29, 2017 Earths skies were filled with plasma arcing bows stretching horizon to horizon, reforming into what was previously only ever seen twice before as a single strand. Now the amplification is an aural plasma bow. Earlier in the month there were picket auroras, and more red sprites and back in July 2017, incredibly rare ball lightning.


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Camera

Incredible aurora phenomenon captured over Washington and Alberta

© JB Hawkins Photography
A photo of "Steve" as seen from Darrington, Wash. on Sept. 27, 2017
Getting to see a brilliant display of the Northern Lights is pretty rare around Washington, but Tuesday night's display brought something even less common: A Steve sighting.

No, not the name of the photographers trying to capture the event (although I'm sure there were a few) but it's what citizen researchers have named a type of aurora streak that seems to dance in place as a vertical tube, rather than shimmering lights that sway across the skies.

"Steve" was coined by Chris Ratzlaff, a photographer and the administrator for "The Alberta Aurora Chasers" Facebook group. He and the site's members had noticed a long, tubular purplish part of the aurora. They called it "proton arc" but it attracted the attention of aurora researcher Prof. Eric Donovan with the University of Calgary. He saw their photos but knew proton arcs aren't visible so it had to be something else.


Ratzlaff told CBC-TV he came up with the name "Steve" after watching the movie "Over the Hedge" in which animals are scared of an unknown something on the other side of a hedge, and decide to call it Steve. The name has stuck. (Guess it's a good idea he wasn't watching Shrek.)

Donovan was able to go back and match the chasers' photos of Steve to when a satellite from the European Space Agency's "swarm" project flew through that spot and were able to detail changes in the electric fields.

Comment: Another incredible image of 'Steve' as a purple auroral arc was captured in the sky of Alberta on September 27, 2017 by Alan Dyer.

© Alan Dyer
"The Steve arc appeared for only about 20 minutes, starting at 10:45 pm MDT, during a lull in the main display," says Dyer, who captured the arc in a 6-shot, 360o panorama.

A surprisingly strong G3-class geomagnetic storm meant the Northern Lights spilled over the Canadian border into more than half a dozen US states.


Cloud Grey

Huge 'alien ship' cloud appears over Maracaibo, Venezuela

© Met Uy Station bcp
Huge 'alien ship' cloud over Maracaibo, Venezuela
A huge 'alien ship' shaped cloud formed over the city of Maracaibo in Venezuela on Monday, September 25 prompting social networks like Twitter to go viral with announcements of the 'end of the world', as reported in Perú.com.

The article went on to explain that the phenomenon was caused by cloud iridescence (also called "fire rainbows" or "rainbow clouds"), whereby the sun's light is refracted by water droplets and ice crystals in the cloud. An iridescent cumulonimbus cloud was seen over Singapore in April this year.


Cassiopaea

Shedding more light on the 1572 supernova in Cassiopeia

© CC BY 2.0/NASA Goddard Space Flight Center/Tycho Brahe
Tycho Brahe star shines in gamma rays.
Russian astronomer Marat Gilfanov managed to shed light on the origin of the world-famous supernova that flared up in the sky in 1572 and drastically changed scientists' perspective of astronomy at the time.

"The explosion of the [Tycho Brahe] supernova in the constellation of Cassiopeia in 1572 showed the whole world that the sky is not perennial as Aristotle wrote, and that the universe is constantly evolving," Russian astronomer Marat Gilfanov and his foreign colleagues said in a study published by the journal Nature Astronomy.

To understand the essence of the study, a small introduction to the nature of supernova might be needed.

Ice Cube

Megacryometeor? Huge ice block hits garden in Renfrewshire, Scotland

© Lyndsey Helliwell/SWNS.com
Eleanor Stephen said: 'I was sitting at my desk and heard this big boom. I thought it was an explosion and I felt the house shake'
A family had a lucky escape when huge block of ice fell from the sky and crashed into their garden.

The Helliwell family were left with a huge crater in their grass after the rock fell this morning.

The impact left a dent of 4ft 7in by 3ft 11in in the middle of their lawn and bits of ice scattered across the grass.

There has been no explanation for the freak incident but experts suspect the ice may have formed on the body of a passing aircraft.

Family friend Eleanor Stephen, 41, was at the Helliwell's home in Busby, Renfrewshire, when the ice struck.

She said: 'I was sitting at my desk and heard this big boom. I thought it was an explosion and I felt the house shake.

'When I went downstairs the dog was acting strangely. I looked out of the window and saw a hole with white stuff in it. It was splashed all over the grass.

Comment: See also: Icy 'Window Fallers' or Frozen Harbingers of Change? The Peculiar Phenomenon of Megacryometeor