Friday, September 5, 2008

Remote volcano causes unusual sunset colors

The phenomenon has been noted in the past week or so in several continents: An eruption by the volcano Kasatochi in Alaska on August 7 has thrown particles high enough into the atmosphere to cause unusual sunset light effects. These have been amply documented on SpaceWeather today and earlier, still earlier and even earlier, with more reports on sites in Germany and the Netherlands. • A bit higher in the atmosphere the Perseids of 2008 reached a surprisingly high max. ZHR of 110-120: Impressive composite pictures are here (larger and with 35 mm instead of 20 mm focal length), movies here, a fine individual Perseid here and many more pics here. Perseids were also observed impacting on the Moon. • There are also a video meteor summary for July, a daylight fireball in AZ and a potential megacryometeor fall in Jordan discussed here and here (in Arabic). • And again at the edge of space we have NLCs seen from the ISS and bright ISS trash seen from Earth.

In (lots of) other news the first comet discovery by a Swiss amateur astronomer is being hailed (as is a recovery by an Austrian amateur). • We have nice images of C/2007 W1 (Boattini) of Aug. 16 and Aug. 14, marvel about the strange light curve of C/2008 A1 (McNaught) and an outburst of 6P/d'Arrest seen here on Aug. 27 and Aug. 24, still have hope in C/2007 N3 (Lulin), seen on Aug. 17, have a movie of 51P, see 67P and 47P as a pair and C/2005 L3 (McNaught) next to a supernova. • In and beyond the Kuiper Belt two strange bodies have been found, one with an extremely elongated orbit, the other one orbiting backwards.

• The continuing low activity of the Sun is raising eyebrows, but August was not spot-free: A small one had briefly shown up without getting an AR number though. • In amateur astronomy we have a long portrait of an enthusiast from Oz's Gold Coast, a story on light pollution in the NYT Business(!) section and a helpful name resolver tool. • On the practical fron one can worry about leap seconds and celebrate the roll-out of Atlantis which will head to the HST (with Oct. 10 as the new target launch date) as well as the LSST main mirror blank that its creators call "perfect".

• In science a surprising minimum mass for dwarf galaxies has been found, our planetary system may be unusual after all (though this is only a simulation) - and new data confirm the "hockey stick" rise in global temperature: This planet is warmer than it should be. • Finally it may be noted that a strange attempt to reverse the new nomenclature of the solar system didn't generate the desired media impact and was instead seen as a failure, simply boring and way too emotional, for whatever reason. It simply does't depend on what to call it to make a small body fascinating. And if you like it big, how about the largest solar system on Earth, with the planets to scale?

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