1ST COMET FLYBY: No kidding. Green comet 41P/Tuttle-Giacobini-Kresak is
flying over Earth's North Pole this week where sky watchers can find it
all night long not far from the bowl of the Big Dipper. At closest
approach on April 1st it will be just 21 million km from Earth--an easy
target for backyard telescopes and almost visible to the naked eye.
STORM: As predicted, a stream of solar wind enveloped Earth's magnetic
field on March 27th. First contact produced a moderately-strong
G2-class geomagnetic storm, with bright auroras around both poles and
electrical ground currents detected in the Arctic. More storming is
likely during the next 48 hours as Earth moves deeper into the stream
and the solar wind pressure intensifies.
We all may retreat to
our protective shells, but evolution has perfected the calcite variety to give
some critters permanent defense against predators. So why did squids and
octopuses lose their shells? Find out what these cephalopods gained by
giving up the shell game.
Plus why Chesapeake
Bay oyster shells are shells of their former selves. What explains the
absence of the dinner-plate sized oysters of 500,000 years ago, and how
conservation paleobiology is probing deep time for strategies to bring back
these monster mollusks.
Also, was the Earth
once encased in a giant, continental shell? A new theory of plate
tectonics. Land ho!
Conservation paleobiologist at the College of William and Mary.
Ph.D. student in paleobiology at the University of Bristol, U.K.
Brown – Professor of Geology,
University of Maryland
STORM WATCH: A large canyon-shaped hole in the sun's atmosphere is
facing Earth and spewing a stream of solar wind toward our planet.
Estimated time of arrival: 2 to 3 days from now. This has prompted NOAA
forecasters to issue a geomagnetic storm watch for March 28th when
storm levels could reach category G2--that is, moderately strong.
Auroras could descend from the Arctic Circle to northern-tier US states
from New York to Wisconsin to Washington.
Visit Spaceweather.com to learn more about the incoming solar wind stream and what makes it so potent.
WIND ARRIVES EARLY: Arriving a day earlier than expected, a stream of
fast-moving solar wind is buffeting Earth's magnetic field today. The
broad stream is expected to influence our planet for the next three
days with a 60% chance of polar geomagnetic storms between now and
March 23rd. Arctic sky watchers should be alert for auroras in the
waxing Spring twilight.
COUNTS HIT 7-YEAR LOW: The face of the sun has been blank (no sunspots)
for 13 consecutive days. The last time this happened was in April of
2010, near the end of an historically deep Solar Minimum. The current
stretch of blank suns heralds a new Solar Minimum expected to arrive in
2019-2020. What does this mean for space weather? Answers may be found
on today's edition of Spaceweather.com
VENUS AT INFERIOR
CONJUNCTION: This week, Venus will pass almost directly between Earth
and the sun--an event astronomers call "inferior solar conjunction."
As it turns its night side to Earth, the planetary disk of Venus is
transforming into an exquisitely slender crescent easily seen through
small telescopes or binoculars. Visit Spaceweather.com for photos and
We know how the stars shine, but how do you make a star? We take an all-night
ride on a high-flying jet – an airborne observatory called SOFIA – to watch
astronomers investigate how a star is born.
As for how the universe was born, we know about the Big Bang but
modern physics suggests that similar cosmic explosions may be happening all the
time, and even hint that we could – in principle – create a new universe in a
laboratory. What does this mean, and how could we do it?
ON A PLANE: Researchers have long known that air travelers are exposed
to cosmic rays on board commercial aircraft. Indeed, pilots are
classified as "occupational radiation workers." Two days ago,
Spaceweather.com and the students of Earth to Sky Calculus took a pair
of bubble chambers onboard a flight from Sweden to the USA and detected
a significant number of neutrons in the passenger compartment. This
confirms that neutrons are an important form of aviation radiation.
Read more about it on today's edition of Spaceweather.com
WIND ADVISORY: A hole has opened in the sun's atmosphere and it is
spewing a stream of solar wind toward Earth. The stream's arrival on
March 23rd could spark the first auroras of northern spring. Monitor
the realtime aurora gallery for sightings.
Whether they swim, slither, jump, or fly, animal locomotion is
more than just an urge to roam: it’s necessary for survival. Evolution
has come up with ingenious schemes to get from here to there. Hear how
backbones evolved as a consequence of fish needing to wag their fins, and why
no animals have wheels.
Motion is more than locomotion. Test the physics of movement in
your kitchen and find out what popping corn has in common with the first steam
And while physics insists that atoms are always moving, find how
what happens to these basic building blocks when placed in the coldest spot in
the universe. The Cold Atom Laboratory chills material to nearly absolute
zero, creating some weird superfluid effects as atoms slow down.
ENCORE: Admit it – the universe is cool, but
weird. Just when you think you’ve tallied up all the peculiar phenomena
that the cosmos has to offer – it throws more at you. We examine some of the
recent perplexing finds.
massive asteroid impacts be as predictable as phases of the moon?
Speaking of moons – why are some of Pluto’s spinning like turbine-powered
pinwheels? Plus, we examine a scientist’s claim of evidence for parallel
could the light patterns from a distant star be caused by alien
- Professor of biology and environmental
studies at New York University
Showalter - Senior
research scientist at the SETI Institute in Mountain View, California
Ranga-Ram Chary - Astronomer, U.S. Planck Data
Center, California Institute of Technology
This encore podcast was first released on
Monday, December 07, 2015
SPRITES" SIGHTED OVER NEW ZEALAND: For the past few days, Earth has
been moving through a stream of solar wind gusting with speeds of 700+
km/s. Last night in New Zealand, the stream produced an unusual
display of "aurora sprites" above the Otago Peninsula. Visit
Spaceweather.com to see the apparition and to learn what probably
ARCTIC SPACE WEATHER BALLOON LAUNCH: This coming
week, Spaceweather.com will be flying to Sweden with a group of student
researchers to launch a series of space weather balloons inside the
Arctic Circle. Near-simultaneous launches in the USA and Chile will
allow us to probe the global response of our planet to rising levels of
cosmic radiation in the inner solar system. Today's edition of
Spaceweather.com highlights the science of this mission--and whets our
appetite for some very unusual photos of the Northern Lights.
STORM: A G1-class polar geomagnetic storm is in progress on March 1st
as Earth enters a fast-moving stream of solar wind. This is sparking
bright auroras around the Arctic Circle. The solar wind is flowing from
a large canyon-shaped hole in the sun's atmosphere and is expected to
influence Earth for the next two days.