Astronomy news

Mammatus Clouds

Mammatus clouds are so named for their similarity to cow udders and underbelly

early arrival

July 19th and 20th, the arrival of a G1 geomagnetic storm following the early arrival of a CME originally expected on the 21st. Expect some nice auroras if you live in high latitudes, especially in the southern hemisphere. Meanwhile, take a gander at this, a picture of a stork's nest in Poland with a background in the sky of noctilucent clouds - see

Unstable sun spot

   An unstable sun spot has emerged on the face of the Sun after a few weeks of almost zero activity. We might be in for a solar flare. Currently the sun spots are directly facing the Earth but as the Sun rotates they will be aiming at another point in the solar system. See (July 17th 2016).

Double Halo

At (July 15th 2016) ... it seems the big sun spot is not acive. It has a stable magnetic field and there is no chance of a flare over the next few days. Noctilucent clouds are the highest clouds in the atmosphere, forming at the edge of space some 80km above the surface of the earth. They are caused by wisps of water vapour that wrap themselves around the smoke of incoming meteors. There are therefore lots of meteors interacting with the upper atmosphere - especially at this time of year. The resulting ice crystals glow electric blue in the night sky.

Gravitational Vortex

At ... the ESAs orbiting X-ray observatory has 'proved' the existence of a 'gravitational vortex' around a black hole. The study, which included NASA data from the NuSTAR mission, has solved a 30 year mystery we are told. The theory is that as matter falls into a black hole it heats up as it plunges into doom, swallowed by the black hole. At that point of very high temperature it shines x-rays into space.

spinning universe

At ... a new dwarf planet discovered beyond Neptune ....

Space Weather

At (July 10th) we hear that Earth is currently insdie a single speed stream of solar wind flowing from an enormous hole in the atmosphere of the sun.

Leaking Atmosphere

At ... the magnetosphere shields earth from the solar wind (or plasma injections) but at Earth's poles the field lines are open - like those of a bar magnet. Hence the solar wind is able to descend towards the earth's surface. However, just as particles can head downwards so too can particles ascend upwards - ions from the earth's atmosphere (the ionosphere). The question of plasma transport and atmospheric loss is relevant not just to planets we may note but to stars also.

Closing In

Closing in is the term used in the link at ... but is it just too hopeful? Closing in on black holes, a theory now within an arms length of actual observation.


At ... we have the beating heart of the Crab Nebula ...    the Hubble space telescope has peered deeply into the Crab Nebual and the NASA image is thought to show a pulsar, the remnants of a supernova explosion. Glowing gas is shown in red and forms a swirling dance while inside a blue glow is thought to represent radiation produced by electrons spiraling at near the speed of light.