STRATOSPHERIC CLOUDS: Earth's stratosphere is normally free of clouds.
Not this weekend, though. Observers around the Arctic Circle are
reporting an outbreak of brilliantly-colored polar stratospheric clouds
(PSCs). Some PSCs are associated with the destruction of ozone and can
even cause regional ozone holes. The clouds observers are seeing now
are so beautiful, they rival the auroras as must-see wonders of the
SOUNDS IN SWEDEN: The idea that auroras make noise has long been
controversial. However, whole groups of listeners in northern Sweden
have recently heard strange sounds during magnetic storms. On
Christmas night, an aurora tour guide recorded the audio using his
iPhone--and it sounds like Star Wars blaster fire.
HERE COMES THE
SOLAR WIND (AGAIN): 2016 might get one more blast of Arctic auroras
before the year is over. Another stream of solar wind is heading for
Earth, and it could arrive before New Year's Eve. Monitor the realtime
aurora gallery for sightings.
SUN SPARKS PINK AURORAS: For the past three days and nights, sky
watchers around the Arctic Circle have witnessed a strange display of
pink and white auroras. Many veteran observers say they've never seen
anything quite like it. Stranger still, the display was ignited by a
completely blank sun. No sunspots were involved. What's going on?
Pictures and an explanation are highlighted on today's edition of
ENCORE: The moon jellyfish has remarkable approach to
self-repair. If it loses a limb, it rearranges its remaining body parts
to once again become radially symmetric. Humans can’t do that, but a new
approach that combines biology with nanotechnology could give our immune
systems a boost. Would you drink a beaker of nanobots if they could help
you fight cancer?
materials science gets into self-healing with a novel concrete that fixes its
why even the most adaptive systems can be stretched to their limit. New
research suggests that the oceans will take a millennium to recover from
Lea Goentoro – Professor of biology, California Institute of Technology
GEOMAGNETIC STORM: Around the Arctic Circle, the longest night of the
year has arrived with perfect timing. A high-speed stream of solar wind
hit Earth's magnetic field on Dec. 21st (the northern winter solstice)
filling the long hours of darkness with Northern Lights. At the time of
this alert, a moderately strong G2-class geomagnetic storm is underway,
and more storms are in the offing. Flowing from a huge hole in the
sun's atmosphere, this solar wind stream is broad. Earth could take
days to cross it.
FOR CHRISTMAS? Earth is about to enter a solar wind stream flowing from
a large hole in the sun's atmosphere. Polar G1-class geomagnetic storms
are expected to begin on Dec. 21st with magnetic unrest continuing
through Dec. 25th as Earth slowly crosses the broad stream of solar
wind. Santa, be alert for Northern Lights!
ENCORE: Shhh. Is someone coming? Okay,
we’ll make this quick. There are a lot of scary things going on in the
world. Naturally you’re fearful. But sometimes fear has a sister
emotion: suspicion. A nagging worry about what’s really going on. You
know, the stuff they aren’t telling you. Don’t share this, but we have
evidence that both our fear response and our tendency to believe conspiracy
theories are evolutionarily adaptive.
sociologist who studies fear tells us why we’re addicted to its thrill when we
control the situation, and how the media exploit our fear of losing control to
keep us on edge. Plus, we examine some alien “cover-ups” and discover why
it’s not just the tinfoil hat crowd that falls for outrageous plots.
Skeptic Check …. but you didn’t hear it from us!
You own a cat, or is
it vice versa? Family friendly felines have trained their owners to do
their bidding. Thanks to a successful evolutionary adaptation, they rule
Find out how your cat
has you wrapped around its paw. And it’s not the only animal to outwit
us. Primatologist Frans de Waal shares the surprising intellectual
capabilities of chimps, elephants, and bats. In fact, could it be that
we’re simply not smart enough to see how smart animals are?
Plus, the discovery of
a fossilized dinosaur brain. Were those lumbering lizards more clever
than we thought?
Alex Liu –
Paleontologist, University of Cambridge, U.K.
GEMINID METEOR SHOWER IS UNDERWAY: Earth is entering a stream of
gravelly debris from "rock comet" 3200 Phaethon, source of the annual
Geminid meteor shower. Although the shower's peak is not expected
until Dec. 13-14, observers are already seeing fireballs fly out of the
constellation Gemini as early-arriving meteoroids hit Earth's
atmosphere traveling ~35 km/s (78,000 mph).
More information and
observing tips may be found on today's edition of Spaceweather.com.
STORM WATCH: Minor G1-class geomagnetic storms are likely for the next
three to four days as Earth passes through a stream of high-speed solar
wind. A type of shock wave at the leading edge of the stream called a
"co-rotating interaction region" (CIR) could spark a display of bright
Arctic auroras as early as Dec. 7-8.
IS THE DA VINCI GLOW? Five hundred years ago, Leonardo da Vinci
proposed an outlandish theory explaining why the Moon's surface glows
during the lunar night. Turns out, his idea was correct. This weekend
is a great time to see the "Da Vinci Glow" for yourself. Observing tips
and the full story of da Vinci's imaginative leap are highlighted on
today's edition of Spaceweather.com.
CORONAL HOLE TURNING TOWARD EARTH: A large hole in the sun's
atmosphere has formed and it is turning toward Earth. Solar wind
emerging from the opening could reach Earth as early as Dec. 6-7 and
influence the space environment of our planet for several days.