Last week, Earth-orbiting satellites detected the first noctilucent
clouds of the 2015 season. Now people on Earth are seeing them, too.
Photographers in Scotland recorded a fairly bright display of the
electric-blue clouds on May 28th. At the same time, radars have
detected intense echoes coming from the "noctilucent zone" 80 km to 90
km above Earth's surface--possibly coming from the clouds themselves.
Check http://spaceweather.com for more information and observing tips to help readers see NLCs for themselves in the weeks ahead.
There are few enduring truths, but one is that no one gets out of
life alive. What’s less certain is what comes next. Does everything
stop with death, or are we transported to another plane of existence?
First-hand accounts of people who claim to have visited heaven are
offered as proof of an afterlife. Now the author of one bestseller
admits that his story was fabricated.
We’ll look at the genre of “heaven tourism” to see if it has anything
to say about the possible existence of the hereafter, and why the idea
of an afterlife seriously influences how we live our lives on Earth.
Also, a neurologist describes what is going on in the brain during near-death and other out-of-body experiences.
It’s Skeptic Check, our monthly look at critical thinking … but don’t take our word for it!
NOCTILUCENT CLOUDS: NASA's AIM spacecraft has spotted a luminous patch
of electric-blue drifting across the Arctic Circle. The sighting marks
the beginning of the 2015 season for northern-hemisphere noctilucent
clouds (NLCs). Long ago, NLCs were a polar phenomenon confined mainly to
the Arctic. In recent years, however, they have intensified and spread,
with sightings as far south as Utah and Colorado.
Learn more about
these exotic clouds and how you might see them this summer on today's
STORM: A moderate (G2-class) geomagnetic storm is underway on May 19th
as Earth enters an unsettled stream of solar wind. High-latitude sky
watchers should be alert for auroras, especially during the hours
around local midnight. Visit http://spaceweather.com for updates.
SEASON BEGINS: As northern summer approaches, photographers in Europe
and the USA are starting to see "red sprites," an exotic form of
lightning that shoots out of the tops of thunderclouds. Photos and
observing tips are highlighted on today's edition of http://spaceweather.com.
You’re a private person. But as long as you’re on-line and have skin and hair, you’re shedding little bits of data and DNA
everywhere you go. Find out how that personal information – whether or
not it’s used against you – is no longer solely your own. Are your
private thoughts next?
A security expert shares stories of ingenious computer hacking … a
forensic scientist develops tools to create a mug shot based on a
snippet of DNA … and from the frontiers of neuroscience: mind reading may no longer be the stuff of sketchy psychics.
Get ready for déjà vu as you listen to some of our favorite
interviews from the past year. It’s our annual fundraising podcast.
Come for the great interviews, stay for the great interviews. Lend us
your support along the way.
What’s for dinner? Maybe Soylent. Made by … people! We do a taste
test. Then meet your gut microbes. They control your health and even
Get tips on how to talk to aliens, why you should keep an eye on
government surveillance, and the future of 3D printing human tissue.
Also, why extraordinary beliefs persist – including Holocaust denial –
despite the persistence of evidence to the contrary.
And, global perspective: why Ebola won’t be the next big pandemic but
sea level rise could wipe out coasts along Florida and Thailand.
Plus, we imagine life hundreds of years ago for the renegades on the
rough seas, and what the world would be like had the dinosaurs not gone
All this and more on a special Big Picture Science podcast!
X-FLARE: Emerging sunspot AR2339 unleashed an intense X2-class solar flare on May 5th at approximately 22:11
UT. Radiation from the flare caused strong radio blackouts on the
Pacific side of Earth, interfering with communications at frequencies
below ~20 MHz. The blast also hurled a CME into space, but not toward
Earth. This event could herald a sustained period of high solar
activity, as AR2339 appears to be large and explosive.
Darwinian evolution is adaptive and slow … millennia can go by before
a species changes very much. But with the tools of genetic engineering
we can now make radical changes in just one generation. By removing
genes or inserting new ones, we can give an organism radically different
traits and behaviors. We are taking evolution into our own hands.
It all began with the domestication of plants and animals, which one
science writer says created civilization. Today, as humans tinker with
their own genome, is it possible we will produce Homo sapiens 2.0?
Also, what happens to those species who can’t control their destiny?
How climate change is forcing the biggest genetic reshuffling in
NASA's MESSENGER spacecraft crashed into Mercury on April 30th, ending a
years-long mission that made many unexpected discoveries about the
innermost planet. Today's story summarizes some of MESSENGER's most
DEEP QUIET: Everyone knows that high solar activity has a profound
effect on the space around Earth. Less well known is that *low* solar
activity can be equally transformative. This week, the sun is plunging
into a quiet state with almost no sunspots and a vanishing chance of
flares. Find out what this means on today's edition of http://spaceweather.com
OTHER STORIES: we are following on http://spaceweather.com
today: (1) A 10,000 km-long plume of sulfurous gas from Chile's Calbuco
volcano is now crossing the Atlantic Ocean en route to Africa; and (2)
On April 28th, microbes sent to the edge of space to test their response
to cosmic radiation crash-landed in the California desert--and it did
not go well for the microbes.
ENCORE: You can’t see it, but it’s there,
whether an atom, a gravity wave, or the bottom of the ocean … but we
have technology that allows us to detect what eludes our sight. When
we do, whole worlds open up.
Without telescopes, asteroids become visible only three seconds
before they slam into the Earth. Find out how we track them long before
that happens. Also, could pulsars help us detect the gravity waves that
Einstein’s theory predicts?
Plus, why string theory and parallel universes may remain just
interesting ideas … the story of the woman who mapped the ocean floor …
and why the disappearance of honeybees may change what you eat.
David Morrison – NASA space scientist and Director of the Carl Sagan Center at the SETI Institute
This blog is for members of the ASTRO LINK group on Linkedin.com, and for anyone else who has an interest in astronomy.
If you are a ASTRO LINK Group member, and you would like to write astronomy related posts for this blog then please contact the group moderator. You must have either a GMail/Google account to be granted "author" privilages for this blog.
Would you like to join the ASTRO LINK Group on Linkedin.com? You need to have a Linkedin.com account to join. If you do , then just click here.
Please feel free to leave comments to the articles. There is a lot more to be added, so come back again real soon.