| AURORA ALERTS: Did you miss the Northern Lights of June 14th? Next time get a wake-up call from Space Weather PHONE. || || |
SUMMER SOLSTICE: Northern summer and southern winter begin today, June 20th, at precisely 23:59 UT (7:59 pm EDT) when the sun ascends to its highest latitude on the celestial sphere: +23.5o. In the Northern Hemisphere, we have the longest day and shortest night of the year, and the reverse in the Southern Hemisphere. The seasons are changing--Happy Solstice!
INTENSE NLCs: Summer is the season for noctilucent clouds and this morning, right on cue, a wave of bright NLCs rolled over the British Isles. "The display appeared quite suddenly ... probably the brightest I've ever seen," reports Paul Evans of Larne, Northern Ireland. Nearby Maghaberry resident John C McConnell snapped this picture of the clouds at daybreak:
"The clouds were so bright, they would have been spotted by members of the public with even a casual glance," adds Martin McKenna who watched the show from Maghera, Northern Ireland. "Glowing tendrils seemed to change size and shape by the minute with subtle colours such as electric blue, orange, and even green. I couldn't take my eyes away from it."
As regular readers know, these glow-in-the-dark clouds are a 100+ year old mystery under investigation by NASA's AIM spacecraft. Once confined to arctic latitudes, noctilucent clouds have been spreading with recent sightings in the USA as far south as Utah, Colorado and possibly even Virginia. Check the photo gallery for observing tips and be alert for noctilucent clouds!
2008 Noctilucent Cloud Gallery
["Noctilucent Clouds"--the song] [NLC Basics]
SNOW WHITE: Phoenix is digging a new trench on Mars and mission scientists have named it "Snow White." Slip on your 3D glasses and check out the progress so far:
Belgian graphic artist Patrick Vantuyne created the anaglyph using right- and left-eye images captured by Phoenix's stereo camera. Stare a while for full effect; you may feel as if you're about to fall in. Don't worry, the trench is only about 1 inch deep.
It's about to get deeper. In the days ahead, Phoenix will excavate more topsoil in search of a mysterious white material first seen in a nearby test trench. Mission scientists would like to gather an abundance of the mystery substance for analysis by Phoenix's onboard mass spectrometer. Then they may discover whether it is ice, salt, or something entirely new.
UPDATE--IT'S ICE! The white material referenced above is ice. Mission scientists identified it by the simple method of watching it disappear. Exposed to four days of martian sunlight by the digging action of Phoenix's arm, the solid white material sublimated (turned to gas) and floated away in plain view of the lander's cameras: animation.
May 2008 Aurora Gallery
[Aurora Alerts] [Night-sky Cameras]