Friday, May 27, 2016

Noctilucent Cloud Season Begins


Source - Space Weather News for May 27, 2016: http://spaceweather.com

NOCTILUCENT CLOUD SEASON BEGINS: On May 24th, NASA's AIM spacecraft spotted wispy electric-blue clouds floating above the Arctic Ocean. This marks the beginning of the 2016 season for noctilucent clouds.  Seeded by meteoroids, icy noctilucent clouds form at the edge of space where they can be seen shining in the night sky.  Each year, their first detection by spacecraft is usually quickly followed by ground-based sightings. Indeed, a photographer in North Wales spotted some this morning.

Visit http://spaceweather.com for photos and observing tips.






















Image Creidt: Space Weather News / NASA

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Rare Form of "Space Lightning" Sighted over Oklahoma


Source - Space Weather News for May 26, 2016: http://spaceweather.com

SPACE LIGHTNING OVER OKLAHOMA: Earlier this week, an enormous cluster of sprites (a.k.a. "space lightning") appeared over a thunderstorm in Oklahoma.  The outbreak was so intense, it may have warped the ionosphere above it and sparked a rare "pop-through gigantic jet."  This type of display could become more common as summer thunderstorm season unfolds across the USA.

Visit http://spaceweather.com for observing tips and more information.


















Image credits: Space Weather News and Thomas Ashcraft

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Big Picture Science for Monday May 23, 2016 - Skeptic Check: Busting Myths with Adam Savage













Big Picture Science - Skeptic Check: Busting Myths with Adam Savage

Can an opera singer’s voice really shatter glass?  Can you give your car a rocket-assisted boost and survive the test drive?  How do you protect yourself from a shark attack?   Those are among the many intriguing questions and urban legends tested by the MythBusters team in front of the camera.

Now that the series has ended after a 16 year run, co-host Adam Savage tells us how it all began, how he and Jamie Hyneman walked the line between science and entertainment, and why he considers himself a scientist but not a “skeptic.”

Also, he reveals the location of the episode, “Duct Tape Island.”

Guests:

Adam Savage - Former co-host and executive producer of MythBusters


Download podcast at: http://bigpicturescience.org/episodes/skeptic-check-busting-myths-adam-savage

You can listen to this and other episodes at http://bigpicturescience.org/, and be sure to check out Blog Picture Science, the companion blog to the radio show.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Midnight Sky Show


Source - Space Weather News for May 21, 2016: http://spaceweather.com

MIDNIGHT SKY SHOW: Tonight, the full Moon gets together with Mars and Saturn to form a bright triangle in the constellation Scorpius. The beautiful midnight encounter is visible around the world, and happens just one week before Mars makes its closest approach to Earth in more than a decade.

Visit http://spaceweather.com for observing tips and more information

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

How to See NASA's Giant Space Balloon


Source - Space Weather News for May 18, 2016: http://spaceweather.com

NASA'S GIANT SPACE BALLOON: On May 17th, NASA successfully launched a gigantic helium balloon from Wanaka, New Zealand, on a 100+ day mission to the stratosphere. The 19 million cubic foot behemoth is now floating over southern Australia, and it will soon proceed to circumnavigate the southern hemisphere.  Sky watchers near the flight path can see the "space balloon" with the unaided eye and track it with backyard telescopes. Visit http://spaceweather.com for observing tips and more information about the balloon's fascinating payload.

MINOR GEOMAGNETIC STORMS POSSIBLE THIS WEEK: NOAA forecasters estimate a 50% to 60% chance of minor G1-class geomagnetic storms on May 19-20 when Earth enters a stream of high-speed solar wind. High-latitude sky watchers should be alert for auroras, especially in the southern hemisphere where darkening autumn skies favor visibility

















Image Credit: Space Weather News / Ray Pickard 

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Big Picture Science for Monday May 16, 2016 - Science Fiction













Big Picture Science - Science Fiction

No one knows what the future will bring, but science fiction authors are willing to take a stab at imagining it.  We take our own stab at imagining them imagining it.  Find out why the genre of science fiction is more than a trippy ride through a bizarre, hi-tech world, but a way to assess and vote on our possible shared future.

Also, an astronomer learns how many rejection slips it takes before becoming a published science fiction author …. what author Bruce Sterling wants to get off his chest … and what the joke about the neutron walking into a bar to ask the price of beer has in common with H.G. Wells, Ursula K. Le Guin, and Ridley Scott.

Oh, and the price of beer?  Bartender: “For you, no charge.”

Guests:
  • Ed Finn - Director of the Center for Science and the Imagination at Arizona State University
  • Andrew Fraknoi – Chair of the astronomy department at Foothill College.  His story, "The Cave in Arsia Mons", is in "Building Red", here.  His list of astronomically correct science fiction is here.
  • Bruce Sterling - Science fiction author, journalist, and editor
  • Brian Malow - Science comedian, science communication officer, North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, Raleigh

Download podcast at: http://bigpicturescience.org/episodes/science-fiction

You can listen to this and other episodes at http://bigpicturescience.org/, and be sure to check out Blog Picture Science, the companion blog to the radio show.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Earth's Magnetic Field is Changing


Source - Space Weather News for May 12, 2016: http://spaceweather.com

EARTH'S MAGNETIC FIELD IS CHANGING: Earth's magnetic field protects us from stormy space weather and cosmic rays. New data from Europe's SWARM spacecraft show that our planet's magnetic field is changing.  For instance, in recent years magnetism over North America has weakened by 3.5%, while Asia has seen an increase of 2%. Other parts of the world are unsettled as well. Visit Spaceweather.com for the full story.

NOCTILUCENT CLOUDS: Soon, the season for noctilucent clouds over the northern hemisphere will begin.  A sky watcher in Scotland might have spotted the first apparition on May 10th.   Electric-blue clouds are highlighted on today's edition of Spaceweather.com.


ESA Magnetic Field Image

Image Source - Space Weather News / ESA

Sunday, May 08, 2016

Mother's Day Geomagnetic Storm


Source - Space Weather News for May 8, 2016: http://spaceweather.com

MOTHER'S DAY GEOMAGNETIC STORM: Surprise! Sunday, May 8th, began with a strong G3-class geomagnetic storm that sparked beautiful auroras around both poles.  Northern Lights were spotted in at least half a dozen US states. Meanwhile, at the other end of the planet, Southern Lights lit up the skies and snowy landscape of Antarctica. 

Visit http://spaceweather.com for photos and more information about this event.

Space Weather aurora photo credit Rocky Raybell 05/07/2016
Credit Space Weather News / Rocky Raybell - Keller, Washington

Big Picture Science for Monday May 09, 2016 - Shocking Ideas













Big Picture Science - Shocking Ideas

ENCORE: Electricity is so 19th century. Most of the uses for it were established by the 1920s. So there’s nothing innovative left to do, right? That’s not the opinion of the Nobel committee that awarded its 2014 physics prize to scientists who invented the blue LED.

Find out why this LED hue of blue was worthy of our most prestigious science prize … how some bacteria actually breathe rust … and a plan to cure disease by zapping our nervous system with electric pulses.

Guests:
  • Siddha Pimputkar – Postdoctoral researcher in the Materials Department of the Solid State Lighting and Energy Electronics Center under Shuji Nakamura, winner of the 2014 Nobel Prize in Physics, University of California, Santa Barbara
  • Jeff Gralnick – Associate professor of microbiology at the University of Minnesota
  • Kevin Tracey – Neurosurgeon and president of the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research in New York

This encore podcast was first released on December 15, 2014

Download podcast at:http://bigpicturescience.org/episodes/Shocking_Ideas

You can listen to this and other episodes at http://bigpicturescience.org/, and be sure to check out Blog Picture Science, the companion blog to the radio show.

Saturday, May 07, 2016

Transit of Mercury

 
Source - Space Weather News for May 7, 2016http://spaceweather.com

TRANSIT OF MERCURY: On Monday morning, May 9th, Mercury will pass directly between Earth and the sun, producing a rare transit visible from the Americas, Europe, Africa and parts of Asia.  Visit Spaceweather.com for observing tips and links to live webcasts.

CHANCE OF STORMS: NOAA forecasters say there is a 65% chance of G1-class geomagnetic storms on May 9th when Earth enters a solar wind stream filled with negative-polarity magnetic fields. A display of high-latitude auroras is possible, especially in the southern hemisphere where visibility is improved by darkening autumn skies.

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

Meteors from Halley's Comet


Source - Space Weather News for May 3, 2016: http://spaceweather.com

METEORS FROM HALLEY'S COMET: Earth is entering a stream of debris from Halley's Comet, source of the annual eta Aquariid meteor shower.  Although the shower does not peak until later this week, a radar in Canada is already detecting strong echoes from the debris zone.  This bodes well for sky watchers who could see 30 or more meteors per hour in the nights ahead.  Visit http://spaceweather.com for updates and observing tips.

Sky map from the Canadian Meteor Orbit Radar
Above: This sky map from the Canadian Meteor Orbit Radar shows meteoroids from Halley's Comet emerging from the constellation Aquarius (ETA).

Monday, May 02, 2016

Negative Magnetic Fields Spark Auroras

 
Source - Space Weather News for May 2, 2016: http://spaceweather.com

NEGATIVE MAGNETIC FIELDS SPARK AURORAS: For the past three days Earth has been passing through a region of interplanetary space filled with negative-polarity magnetic fields. This has caused intermittent geomagnetic storms and beautiful auroras around both poles. Visit http://spaceweather.com for pictures and more information about this phenomenon.

"SPACE LIGHTNING" SIGHTED OVER THE CARIBBEAN: Sprite season is definitely underway. Only a few days after a widespread display appeared over Texas, more sprites have popped up near Puerto Rico. This time the exotic forms of upper atmospheric electricity were sighted dancing above the sea instead of land.  Learn more about land-vs-sea sprites at http://spaceweather.com.


Carribean sprites
Photo credit: Frankie Lucena and Space Weather News.

Sunday, May 01, 2016

Big Picture Science for Monday May 02, 2016 - Living Computers













Big Picture Science - Living Computers

ENCORE: It’s the most dramatic technical development of recent times: Teams of people working for decades to produce a slow-motion revolution we call computing. As these devices become increasingly powerful, we recall that a pioneer from the nineteenth century – Ada Lovelace, a mathematician and Lord Byron’s daughter – said they would never surpass human ability. Was she right?

We consider the near-term future of computing as the Internet of Things is poised to link everything together, and biologists adopt the techniques of information science to program living cells.

Plus: What’s your favorite sci-fi computer?

Guests:


This encore podcast was first released on December 07, 2014

Download podcast at: http://bigpicturescience.org/episodes/Living_Computers

You can listen to this and other episodes at http://bigpicturescience.org/, and be sure to check out Blog Picture Science, the companion blog to the radio show.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Space Lightning over Texas


Source - Space Weather News for April 28, 2016: http://spaceweather.com

"SPACE LIGHTNING" OVER TEXAS: Last night, a photographer in Texas captured a magnificent display of sprites dancing atop a powerful thunderstorm near Dallas. Sprites are an exotic form of lightning that shoot up from thunderstorms, reaching toward space. The Texas display shows that sprite season is now underway in the northern hemisphere.

Visit http://spaceweather.com for more information and observing tips.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Big Picture Science for Monday April 25, 2016 - Skeptic Check: Your Inner Lab Coat













Big Picture Science - Skeptic Check: Your Inner Lab Coat

ENCORE: Sherlock Holmes doesn’t have a science degree, yet he thinks rationally – like a scientist. You can too! Learn the secrets of being irritatingly logical from the most famous sleuth on Baker Street. Plus, discover why animal trackers 100,000 years ago may have been the first scientists, and what we can learn from about deductive reasoning from today’s African trackers.

Also, the author of a book on teaching physics to your dog provides tips for unleashing your inner scientist, even if you hated science in school.

And newly-minted scientists imagine classes they wish were available to them as grad students, such as “You Can’t Save the World 101.”

Guests:

This encore podcast was first released on February 09 2015

Download podcast at: http://bigpicturescience.org/episodes/Skeptic_Check_Your_Inner_Lab_Coat

You can listen to this and other episodes at http://bigpicturescience.org/, and be sure to check out Blog Picture Science, the companion blog to the radio show.