oldest fossil ever

At www.astronomy.com/news/2017/12/oldest-fossil-ever-found# ... complex microbes found in rocks dated as early as 3.5 billion years ago imply life on earth began and evolved more quickly than mainstream has previously allowed. The rock concerned comes from western Australia - eleven complex microbes of five distinct species. Does this suggest life in the universe is much more common than thought? If life was divisive 3.5 billion years  ago it must have formed somewhat earlier.

Moon Dogs

The first full moon of 2018 is a supermoon. The extra brightness on January 1st and 2nd is expected to cause side effects - such as moon dogs. These are rainbow coloured splashes of light to the left and right of the moon created by the light bending actions of ice crystals in high cirrus clouds (see http://spaceweather.com 28th December 2017) ....

Mastodon shenanigans

At https://phys.org/print433492885.html ... we have a somewhat long story about a State re-widening project in California that unearthed a lot of fossil animals - but the prize of the group was a mastodon, whose bones had been shattered. Other animals found included a lot of rodents and birds as well as lizards and other small creatures. However, the focus from the beginning was on the mastodon - and why its bones were broken and splintered.

Christmas Aurorae

At http://spaceweather.com  24th December we have news of a sprawling coronal hole that has sent us a nice Christmas present - an auroral display. It is not however a major geomagnetic event - but a rather minor one. More interesting is the meteor shower emanating from the asteroid Phaethon, described by Space Weather as a rocky comet. Phaethon came within 10 million km of the Earth  and the Pue space telescope picked up the images below. The arrow is pointing at a large concavity or depression. It also seems it is a bigger object than thought - with a diameter of 6km.

Defending the Sedentary

At https://phys.org/print433068635.html ... reports on the discovery from aerial photography and satellite images of the discovery of more than a thousand sites across eastern Syria that seem to be a military network defending Middle Bronze Age urban and sedentary kingdoms in the west - and their hinterlands (the rural farmland). The defence system was clearly aimed at controlling intrusions from the Syrian steppe zone (or semi desert region of tribal habitat).

Habelia optata

   This is an image of Habelia optata, a marine predator which feeded on trilobites (see https://phys.org/print433048787.html ). Geologists as well as palaeontologists have long collected many examples of trilobites, their eggs and their offspring, in a variety of shapes and forms. Some scientists specialise in trilobites and so do fossil sellers in countries like Morocco in North Africa, selling their touched up specimens to tourists.

Electric Saturn

Robert sent in the link to https://expertsvar.se/en/pressmeddelanden/electrical-and-chemical-coupli... ... electrical and chemical coupling between Saturn and its rings - Swedish research results published in the journal Science. The Langmuir probe was developed by the Swedes and was onboard the Cassini spacecraft. It seems it has made some exciting discoveries on the atmosphere of Saturn - a strong coupling, chemically and electrically, between Saturn's upper atmosphere and its ring system.

Men in Black

The former head of a secret US government programme set up to investigate UFO sightings has told the media that extraterrestrial life may exist - as some UFOs defy explanation. See for example www.space.com/39169-aliens-may-exist--pentagon-ufo-program-chief.html ... and www.space.com/39171-mysterious-ufo-sightings.html ... We may not be alone he said as a lot of strange aircraft (or flying objects) have displayed characteristics not currently within the US military (nor that of any other earth based society).

NASA and the Sun

At www.sciencenews.org/article/sun-corona-outer-atmosphere-complex ... newly analysed images could help solve mysteries about solar wind and the superhot corona. The outer corona may appear smooth and calm but freshly analysed images from NASAs STEREO spacecraft show an unexpected texture. It is full of knots, whorls and blobs.

Uranus

Worlds in Collision is making a dramatic comeback. What with collisions on Earth creating the Moon, and variously theories regarding Venus and Jupiter we now have Uranus as part of solar system billiard balls - see www.space.com/39123-crash-that-tilted-uranus-made-moons.html ... the crash that tilted Uranus made its moons. Uranus is tilted on its side. A new study claims an impact bowled Uranus over, sideways, and may have created its moons in the process - solving two problems with a single theory. Uranus possesses 27 moons 18 of which orbit its equatorial zone.