When you see the sky’s brightest star – Sirius – low in the sky, you’re seeing it shine through an extra thickness of Earth’s atmosphere. At such times, its colorful flashing might surprise you.
The 2017 Geminid meteor shower was thought to have a better-than-average chance of producing a rich display, since the Geminids’ parent body – a strange rock-comet called 3200 Phaethon – is nearby. And so it was! Photos here.
Meltwater from the glaciers supplies water to 800 million people, so that loss would mean serious consequences for water management, food security, energy production.
Peaks of the Tien Shan, one of many regions in Asia’s high mountains with predictions of massive glacier loss by the end of the century. Image via NASA.
Juno spacecraft data show the Great Red Spot – nearly 1.5 Earths wide – with roots penetrating some 200 miles (300 km) into Jupiter’s atmosphere.
This looping animation simulates the motion of clouds in Jupiter's Great Red Spot. The animation was made by applying a wind movement model to a mosaic of JunoCam images. Image via NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/Gerald Eichstadt/Justin Cowart.
December solstice 2017 arrives on December 21 at 16:28 UTC. High summer for the Southern Hemisphere. For the Northern Hemisphere, the return of more sunlight!
Mirfak isn’t as famous as Algol, its brother star in the constellation Perseus. But Mirfak is easier to find and can help guide you to Algol.
Image via Fred Espenak.
You can’t see 3200 Phaethon – parent of the Geminid meteor shower and a strange asteroid-comet hybrid – with the eye alone. But backyard telescopes can pick it up. Charts and more here.
A closer view of the stars of Perseus showing the position of asteroid 3200 Phaeton on December 13, 2017 at 7:30 p.m. Central Time. Illustration by Eddie Irizarry using Stellarium. (See bigger image llustr 3b )
The Geminid meteor shower is always reliable, but might be extra special in 2017. Peak morning is likely December 14. Be sure to watch for the moon near the morning planets!
Wesley Loftis in Clarksville, Virginia caught this Gemind meteor on the morning of December 13, 2017. By all reports, last night was a good display. The morning of December 14 should be even better!
The report shows the warming trend that’s transforming the Arctic region is persisting. The Arctic shows no sign of returning to reliably frozen region of recent past decades, say scientists.
Icebergs, Ilulisat, Vestgronland, Greenland. Image via Greenland Travel/Flickr.