Where's Saturn? Is that a UFO--or the ISS? What's the name of that
star? Get the answers from mySKY--a
fun new astronomy helper from Meade.
UPDATE: A global dust storm is still blowing around Mars,
but the air over Spirit and Opportunity has cleared slightly, allowing
crucial sunlight to reach the rovers' solar panels. Opportunity's
batteries are now fully charged, and Spirit's batteries are almost
so. Project manager John Callas of JPL cautions that "conditions
remain dangerous for both rovers," but the situation is improving:
PERSEID FIREFLY: The Perseid
meteor shower is underway. Don't panic, the peak doesn't occur until
August 12th and 13th, but already five or six shooting stars per
hour may be seen during the dark hours before dawn.
"The Perseids are definitely intensifying," says Brian
Emfinger of Ozark, Arkansas, who caught this meteor in flight
early Tuesday morning:
The Perseid isn't the only thing flying through the frame. "There's
also a lightning bug blinking through," he points
out. The bug and the meteor crossed during a 25-second exposure
at ISO 800. Emfinger used a Canon
Digital Rebel XT.
More Perseids are coming. Get the full
story from Science@NASA.
PILEUS CLOUD: "I've
never seen anything like this before," reports Shantara Ford
of Santa Fe, New Mexico. "I was taking photos of the sun streaming
through some thunder clouds yesterday when I saw what looked like
a stack of circular auroras sitting on top of the cloud."
Auroras in New Mexico? It has happened before, but not this week.
Atmospheric optics expert Les Cowley explains what Shantara saw:
"This is an iridescent
cloud. On sunny afternoons, cumulus clouds boil upwards, pushing
layers of moist air above them even higher where they cool and condense
to form cloud caps or 'pileus' (Latin for cap). Pileus clouds formed
very quickly have their water
droplets all the same size--the perfect condition for iridescent
Readers, when cumulus clouds rapidly surge into your afternoon
sky, look for the caps. "It was truly an amazing experience,"
more images: from
Dr. Michael T. Goodling of Kenya, East Africa
Noctilucent Cloud Gallery