Category Archives: Nature

The Northern Lights shine above the frozen surface of Lake Superior on the west coast of the Keweenaw Peninusla in a 10 shot panorama captured over the space of three hours at the start of this month. To wit:

 At left, a faint band of Zodiacal light rises sharply from the horizon crossing Mars and the Pleides star cluster. Both the distant galaxy M31 and our own Milky Way shine above the greenish auroral arc. Navigational north pole star Polaris is centered above and accompanied on the right by the northern night’s most recognizable asterism, the Big Dipper. Terrestrial lights include markers for two breakwaters on the the horizon near the center of the scene.

Full resolution image here.

(Image: Lorenzo Ranieri Tenti)

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A rare form of lightning called ‘red sprites’ (only confirmed 30 years ago) observed earlier this month at Kununurra in Western Australia. To wit:

100-meter balls of ionized air shoot down from about 80-km high at 10 percent the speed of light and are quickly followed by a group of upward streaking ionized balls. Red sprites take only a fraction of a second to occur and are best seen when powerful thunderstorms are visible from the side.

(Pic: Ben Broady)

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A spectacular manifestation of the Aurora Borealis this month in Iceland. The Medieval Vikings might have interpreted this as a sign from the gods. But no: science. To wit:

The aurora was caused by a hole in the Sun’s corona that expelled charged particles into a solar wind that followed a changing interplanetary magnetic field to Earth’s magnetosphere.

Still.

Sky Dragon!

(Pic: Zingyi & Wang Zang)

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A bizarre phenomenon observed by Andrew Sietsema at a frozen orchard in Western Michigan this month. Sietsema sez of it:

I guess it was just cold enough that the ice covering the apple hadn’t melted yet, but it was warm enough that the apple inside turned to complete mush (apples have a lower freezing point than water). And when I pruned a tree it would be shaken in the process, and the mush would slip out of the bottom of the ‘ghost apple.’

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