© Alex Julia : The mysterious pillars of light phenomenon over Yekaterinburg on December 20, 2015.
When the light comes from the sun or moon, the light pillar can appear beneath them, too, as the light refracts through the crystals.
© Stanislaw Gilyazov : erie sky phenomenon over Sterlitamak.
They change color according to their source over Sterlitamak. Light pillars typically scrape the night sky in polar regions.
© Konstantin Lifanov : Is there a big party going on in this arctic Russian city?
© Yuri Yaschenko : These beams of light were captured with a green aurora on December 17, 2015.
What an awesome sky phenomenon!
They are created when light from the sun, moon, streetlamps, or any terrestrial source, reflects on the surface of a flat piece of ice crystal
When the light source is close to the ground, the light pillar appears above the floating crystals.
© Stanislav Gilyazov : Light pillars in the night between 18 and 19 December 2015 at Sterlitamak.
It is truly amazing!
They change color according to their source over Sterlitamak.
But sometimes the vertical columns of light appear along with frigid temperatures at lower latitudes.
© Konstantin Lifanov : These light pillars look like dancing bodies in the night sky. Image shot on December 18, 2015.
© Egor Zagrebin : Like a multicolor wall beaming to the sky over Izhevsk on December 18, 2015.
Strange Sounds : 20 Dec 2015
If you have ever been privy to the phenomenon of light pillars, then you know it is truly an amazing sight. They appear when the weather is extremely cold and form vertical columns of light beaming directly towards the sky. Here a compilation of pillars of light for December 2015. They sometimes look like multiple fireballs heading to the sky:
Geomagnetic storms are brewing, but not every colorful light in the night sky is an aurora. For instance, Yuri Beletsky sends this picture taken Dec. 17th from the Atacama desert in Chile:
"These are not auroras. We just witnessed an amazing display of airglow," says Beletsky. "It was so intense that you could not see many stars close to the horizon - the sky was literally shining."
Airglow is an aurora-like phenomenon in the upper atmosphere caused by a variety of chemical reactions. It begins during the day when solar ultraviolet radiation ionizes atoms and molecules. At night, those same atoms and molecules glow as they re-capture lost electrons. The green in Beletsky's photo comes from oxygen atoms in a layer 90-100 km high; the red is probably associated with OH ions at an altitude of about 85 km. The wavy structure of the glow is due to high-altitude gravity waves, which alter the temperature and density structure of the upper atmosphere.
"Airglow is much less intense than aurora," continues Beletsky. "The display I saw looked, to the naked eye, like a series of black-and-white waving bands. The full color of the display was easily captured, however, by my digital camera."
For the second day in a row, sky watchers are reporting an outbreak of polar stratospheric clouds (PSCs) around the Arctic Circle. Unlike normal grey-white clouds, which hug Earth's surface at altitudes of only 5 to 10 km, PSCs float through the stratosphere (25 km) and they are fantastically colourful. Truls Tiller photographed these over Tromsø, Norway, on Dec. 16th:
"Here the sun is gone for now," says Tiller, "but this beautiful view makes the winter darkness nice to be in as well. The picture was taken at 10.30 am, in the middle of the 'day.'"
Also known as "nacreous" or "mother of pearl" clouds, the icy structures form in the lower stratosphere when temperatures drop to around minus 85ºC. High-altitude sunlight shining through tiny ice particles ~10µm across produce the characteristic bright iridescent colours by diffraction and interference. Once thought to be mere curiosities, some PSCs are now known to be associated with the destruction of ozone.
"Nacreous clouds far outshine and have much more vivid colours than ordinary iridescent clouds, which are very much poor relations and seen frequently all over the world," writes atmospheric optics expert Les Cowley. "Once seen they are never forgotten." www.spaceweather.com
Before Its News : 16 Sep 2015
On September 15, 2015, witnesses filmed a very strange cloud phenomenon above Costa Rica at about 3.00 pm local time. We may wonder whether this strange cloud is just a natural phenomenon or a so-called earthquake light or there's more than our eyes can see?
Earthquake lights are reported to appear while an earthquake is occurring, although there are reports of lights before or after earthquakes. They are reported to have different shapes with a white to bluish hue, but occasionally they have been reported having a wider color spectrum.
The luminosity is reported to be visible for several seconds, but has also been reported to last for tens of minutes.
A different explanation involves intense electric fields created piezoelectrically by tectonic movements.
Another possible explanation is local disruption of the Earth's magnetic field and/or ionosphere in the region of tectonic stress, resulting in the observed glow effects from ionospheric radiative recombination at lower altitudes and greater atmospheric pressure.
Aurora Borealis 9-12-14 from Lights Over Lapland Plus
On September 11th and 12th two CMEs interacted with Earth's magnetosphere, causing a KP-7 Geomagnetic storm.
The storm sparked large aurora displays that will never be forgotten by the people that were lucky enough to witness the event. This short film is for everyone else....
Frequent fliers who look out the window of their planes often see the shadow of the aircraft dipping in and out of clouds below. The interplay of light and shadow with water droplets in the clouds can produce colorful rings of light called "glories." On July 13th, Tony DeFreece saw a glory that was not a colorful ring, but rather a heart:
"I was flying over Oregon when I looked out and saw this heart-shaped figure," he says. "It was one of those moments when the Universe aligns and takes your breath away."
DeFreece suspects, probably correctly, that the shape of the clouds bent the usual circular glory into the heart-shaped apparition. Mystery solved? Not entirely. Glories are caused by sunlight reflected backwards from water droplets in clouds. Exactly how backscattering produces the colorful rings, however, is a mystery involving surface waves and multiple reflections within individual droplets. Each sighting is a lovely puzzle, so grab the window seat and keep an eye on the clouds below.
Around the northern hemisphere, sky watchers are starting to report a rainbow-colored sun halo that appears almost-exclusively during summer: the circumhorizon arc. "I saw one on June 13th. It was very bright," says Michail Anastasio, who snapped this picture from the cockpit of a plane flying 20,000 feet over Singapore:
Nicknamed the "fire rainbow" because of its fiery rainbow colors, this apparition in fact has nothing to do with either fire or rainbows. It is caused by sunlight refracting through plate-shaped ice crystals in cirrus clouds. The geometry of the refraction requires that the sun be high in the sky (above 58o), which explains why this is a summertime phenomenon.
June and July are the best months to see circumhorizon arcs. Look for them circling the horizon sometimes in patches, sometimes not, always brightly decorated with pure and well separated prismatic colors. You'll know it when you see it.
"We are enjoying one of our best years ever," reports Chad Blakley, an aurora tour guide in Sweden's Abisko National Park. "So far we have seen auroras on 29 out of the 31 nights we have looked. Last night was extra special. The sky exploded in color and I was lucky to capture the phenomenon with several different cameras from multiple angles." Click to view the resulting footage:
"The lights were so powerful that the images became overexposed with a shutter speed of less than one second," he continues. "I can honestly say that this was one of the greatest displays of natural beauty that I have ever seen."
The show is apt to continue tonight. NOAA forecasters estimate a 25% chance of geomagnetic storms on Feb. 3-4 when an approaching CME is expected to deliver a glancing blow to our planet's magnetic field. www.spaceweather.com
Taken by hundreds of people around the world, the pictures of Comet ISON we receive every day vary widely in quality, context and camera settings. However, they all seem to have one thing in common: the comet looks green. Why? To answer this question, Italian amateur atronomers Paolo Corelli and Dario Comino used a high-dispersion spectrometer to analyze light from the comet's atmosphere. Here are their results:
The spectrum of Comet ISON is dominated by a green spectral line from diatomic carbon (C2). This substance is common in the atmospheres of comets, and it glows green when illuminated by sunlight in the near-vacuum of space. The spectrum also shows a weaker but still significant blue emission line from C2. Comet ISON's mixture of green and blue light gives it the aqua hue seen in many long-exposure photographs. Finally, the spectrum reveals a contribution from atomic oxygen. This element is familiar to readers of spaceweather.com as a source of green light in auroras. www.spaceweather.com
Comet ISON, which will fly through the atmosphere of the sun on Nov. 28th, is now flying past the planet Mars. The green comet and the Red Planet are just 1o apart in the eastern sky before dawn. Parks Squyres photographed the odd couple from his private observatory in SaddleBrooke, Arizona, on Oct. 16th:
Mars is almost as bright as a 1st-magnitude star, easy to find in the constellation Leo near the blue star Regulus. The comet, on the other hand, is invisible to the unaided eye. Mid-sized backyard telescopes are required to see it.
"I used a Celestron 11-inch telescope," says Squyres. "The image is a stack of 80 15-second exposures."
The comet is green because its vaporizing nucleus emits diatomic carbon, C2, a gas which glows green in the near-vacuum of space. Mars is red because its rocky surface is widely rusted. The two colors make a heavenly ensemble. Amateur astronomers, if you have a GOTO telescope, enter these coordinates, and let the exposures begin.
RED AURORAS: On October 2nd, a CME hit Earth's magnetic field, sparking a G2-class geomagnetic storm. Sky watchers on both ends of the Earth saw auroras; many of the lights were rare shades of red. Minoru Yoneto photographed this example from Queenstown, New Zealand:
"This is how the sky looked 11 hours after the CME impact," says Yoneto, who used a Canon EOS 6D digital camera to record the reds.
Auroras are usually green, and sometimes purple, but seldom do sky watchers see this much red. Red auroras occur some 300 to 500 km above Earth's surface and are not yet fully understood. Some researchers believe the red lights are linked to a large influx of electrons. When low-energy electrons recombine with oxygen ions in the upper atmosphere, red photons are emitted. At present, space weather forecasters cannot predict when this will occur.
During the storm, even more red auroras were observed over the United States in places like Kansas, Ohio, and Oklahoma. Browse the gallery for examples. Realtime Aurora Photo Gallery
THE INSTIGATING CME: The CME that hit Earth's magnetic field left the sun on Sept. 30th, propelled by an erupting magnetic filament. SOHO photographed the CME at the start of its journey, racing away from the sun at 2 million mph (900 km/s):
The CME was impressive, but the underlying explosion was even more so. One movie [from NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory shows the self-destructing filament in the context of the whole sun. Another movie zooms in for a close-up. It catches the filament ripping through the sun's atmosphere and leaving behind a beautiful "canyon of fire."
NOAA forecasters working through the government shutdown estimated an almost-even 45% chance of polar geomagnetic storms when the CME arrived. The CME justified those relatively high odds, sparking a G2-class geomagnetic storm around the poles.
On Sept. 27th, a meteor exploded in the skies above the US midwest. Witnesses report shadows cast upon the ground, unusual sounds, and a swirling contrail marking the aftermath of the blast. "It was the most brilliant fireball that I have ever seen!" reports Angela McClain, who sends this picture from Faith Ranch in Jewett, Ohio:
"The entire landscape lit up," she continues. "I spun around and there it was, a huge, bright green light, streaking across the sky. Even when it was gone, there was still a bright line in the sky about 20 seconds later. We were all stunned."
A NASA all-sky camera in Hiram, Ohio, also recorded the fireball: movie.
"This was a very bright event," says Bill Cooke of NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office. "Flares saturated our meteor cameras, and made determination of the end point (the terminus of the fireball's flight through the atmosphere) virtually impossible. Judging from the brightness, we are dealing with a meteor class object."
Data from multiple cameras shows that the meteoroid hit Earth's atmosphere traveling 51 km/s (114,000 mph) and passed almost directly over Columbus, Ohio. Cooke has prepared a preliminary map of the ground track. According to the American Meteor Society, the fireball was visible from at least 14 US states. www.spaceweather.com
This poem was nominated by the UN as the best poem of 2008,
written by an African child
When I born, I black
When I grow up, I black
When I go in Sun, I black
When I scared, I black
When I sick, I black
And when I die, I still black
And you white fellow ....
When you born, you pink
When you grow up, you white
When you go in sun, you red
When you cold, you blue
When you scared, you yellow
When you sick, you green
And when you die, you gray
And you calling me colored?
To the human eye, a nearby flash of lightning looks blindingly white. But have you ever wondered what colors might emerge if the flash were spread out chromatically, like a rainbow? During a recent thunderstorm in Tarn, France, David Antao decided to find out. "I am an enthusiastic astro-spectroscopist," he says, "so I couldn't resist shooting some spectra." Here is the result:
"I found it really beautiful!" says Antao.
All of the colors of a rainbow are present in the lightning strike, but some colors are stronger than others. Red, green and blue emission lines zig-zag across the spectrum tracing the shape of the original bolt. These colors are mainly due to the recombination of electrons with nitrogen molecules broken apart and ionized by the searing heat of the lightning discharge. Lines from oxygen, hydrogen, and nitrogen oxides are present, too.
"By analysing this spectra, it is possible to determine the temprature of the lightning," notes Antao. "I am trying to do this now."
This section is for interesting items which are brought to my attention but which do not merit a separate article.
I welcome your comments, questions or suggestions on any topics you wish to contribute to this section.