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Study suggests 2014 ocean surface temps warmest on record

Photo credit: Glen Miles Photography

Photo credit: Glen Miles Photography

Ocean warming has picked up speed, say scientists. The current record-breaking temperatures suggest that a 14-year-long pause in ocean warming has come to an end.

Rosetta spots Philae’s bounce across the comet

Philae's bounce across the surface of its comet, as captured by the Rosetta mothership.  Image via ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA

Philae’s bounce across the surface of its comet, as captured by the Rosetta mothership. Image via ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA

Rosetta blog, which is a wonderful place to go for the most up-to-date information about ESA’s wonderful comet mission, posted the mosaic image above earlier today. It’s comprised of a series of images captured by the Rosetta spacecraft’s OSIRIS camera over a 30-minute period spanning the Philae lander’s first touchdown on the surface of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko last week.

More lightning strikes in a warming world?

Arlington, Virginia, looking towards Washington DC. September 1, 2012. Photo credit: Brian Allen

Arlington, Virginia, looking towards Washington DC. September 1, 2012. Photo credit: Brian Allen

Rising temperatures in the United States could lead to a 50 percent increase in lightning strikes by the end of the century, according to a new study.

Here’s how often small asteroids enter Earth’s atmosphere!

 View larger | Sizes of red dots (daytime impacts) and blue dots (nighttime impacts) are proportional to the optical radiated energy of impacts measured in billions of Joules (GJ) of energy, and show the location of impacts from objects about 1 meter (3 feet) to almost 20 meters (60 feet) in size. Image credit: Planetary Science

View larger | Bolide events, 1994-2013. A bolide is what most people would call a fireball or very bright meteor. Map shows location of atmospheric impacts from small asteroids about 1 meter (3 feet) to almost 20 meters (60 feet) in size. It shows 556 separate events in a 20-year period. Orange dots indicate daytime events; blue dots indicate nighttime events. Sizes of dots are proportional to the optical radiated energy of events. Image via Planetary Science

NASA’s Near Earth Object Program released this new map on November 14, 2014. It’s a visualization of data gathered by U.S. government sensors from 1994 to 2013. The data indicate that small asteroids struck Earth’s atmosphere – resulting in what astronomers call a bolide (a fireball, or bright meteor) – on 556 separate occasions in a 20-year period.

Looking for meteors? Try to get away from city lights

Image credit: NASA

The inset boxes show the general location of two International Dark Sky Association (IDA) ‘gold-tier’ parks —the highest dark sky designation — where the full array of visible sky phenomena can be seen with the unaided eye. Image via NASA

About 80 percent of people in the United States live in urban areas. In these areas, the glow of artificial light sources blot out the night sky. The annual Leonid meteor shower will reach its peak early Tuesday morning. Will you see any meteors? Conditions are optimum this year. The sky is cooperating! But, as much fun as it is to see a meteor zing by in your suburban backyard – or even from an urban balcony – we all know that city lights drown all but the brightest stars, planets, and fireballs. This post offers some tips on how to find a dark sky, and talks about dark sky parks, designated by the International Dark Sky Association.

Leonid meteors best between midnight and dawn November 18

You can see the constellation Leo on the left of the above all-sky photograph.  If you look closely, you'll notice that these meteors in the 1998 Leonid shower appear to be radiated from this single point in the sky.  Image via Juraj Toth (Comenius U. Bratislava), Modra Observatory

You can see the constellation Leo on the left of the above all-sky photograph. If you look closely, you’ll notice that these meteors in the 1998 Leonid shower appear to be radiated from this single point in the sky. Image via Juraj Toth (Comenius U. Bratislava), Modra Observatory

The 2014 Leonid meteor shower is expected to be at its best on the night of November 17-18. The predawn hours on November 18 are the optimum time, no matter where you live on the globe. Will you see what’s shown on the image at the top of this post? Thousands of meteors per hour? No. That image is from 1998, when the Leonids parent comet – Comet Temple-Tuttle – was nearby. The Leonids are famous for producing meteor storms when the comet is in our neighborhood, but no meteor storm is expected this year, only a modest 10 to 15 Leonid meteors per hour. There’s good news about this year’s shower, though …

This date in science: First radio signal beamed to space

Aerial view of Arecibo Observatory via Wiki Commons

The Arecibo Radio Telescope, at Arecibo, Puerto Rico, largest dish antenna in the world. In 1974, this telescope was used to broadcast the first intentional radio signal into space.

November 16, 1974. This is the anniversary of the most powerful broadcast ever deliberately beamed into space with the intention of contacting alien life. Some applauded this event as a mind-expanding attempt to remind people in 1974 that Earth is likely not the only planet where an intelligent civilization has evolved. At the time, others felt we shouldn’t be attempting to reveal Earth’s location in space to unknown alien civilizations.

EarthSky’s meteor shower guide for 2014

Dick Dionne in Green Valley, Arizona caught this bright Taurid fireball on November 15, 2014.  Many reported fireballs in early November this year!

Dick Dionne in Green Valley, Arizona caught this bright Taurid fireball on November 15, 2014. Many reported fireballs in early November this year! Bright objects in upper left of this photo are the moon and planet Jupiter.

The early November 2014 meteor showers (South Taurids and North Taurids) were drowned in bright moonlight, but produced an amazing number of fireballs which were seen and enjoyed by many. On the mornings of November 17 and 18, the moon will be mostly out of the way for the annual Leonid meteor shower. Follow the links inside to learn about meteor showers in 2014.

Try for Leonid meteors before dawn November 17

In 2014, use the dazzling planet Jupiter to help you locate the radiant for the Leonid meteors.  Before dawn just look for the brightest

In 2014, use the dazzling planet Jupiter to help you locate the radiant for the Leonid meteors. Before dawn just look for the brightest “star.” That’ll be Jupiter. The radiant is nearby.

Before dawn on November 17, look for meteors in the famous Leonid meteor shower! The peak night will probably be tomorrow (morning of November 18), but tonight should offer a decent sprinkling of meteors as well. The moon is in a waning crescent phase and mostly out of the way. And the cool news this year is that Jupiter – currently the brightest starlike object in the sky – is near the Leonid’s radiant point. So, for fun, use Jupiter as your guide “star” to the radiant of the Leonid meteor shower tonight!

New clues to possible Venus auroras

Venus because it is so close to the Sun at 0.7 AU. At that distance, the solar storms are so strong that it may not matter if there's not planetary magnetic field, the charged particles would be deposited all over the planet, producing auroras at every latitude. Illustration by C. Carreau/ESA

Venus orbits closer to the sun than Earth. At that closer distance, solar storms may strike the planet so powerfully that the lack of a magnetic field on Venus might not matter. The charged particles might be deposited all over the planet, producing auroras at every latitude. Illustration by C. Carreau/ESA

Astronomers love a good mystery, and here’s one they’ve pondered for decades. That is, Venus may have green auroras despite having no magnetic field of its own.