Enjoying EarthSky? Subscribe.

129,809 subscribers and counting ...

Blogs

Huge asteroid to sweep close on January 26

View larger. | The path of asteroid 2004 BL86 on January 26-27 carries it northward among the winter stars and makes it well positioned for viewing with a backyard telescope. Eastern Standard Time is shown, so be sure to make a time-zone correction for your location.  Translate to your time zone here.  Chart via skyandtelescope.com

The path of asteroid 2004 BL86 on January 26-27 carries it northward among the winter stars and makes it well positioned for viewing with a backyard telescope. Eastern Standard Time is shown, so be sure to make a time-zone correction for your location. Translate to your time zone here. Chart via skyandtelescope.com

Are you ready to witness an asteroid flyby? Although there’s no danger of impact, this one is huge; twice as big as a cruise ship! The asteroid, called 2004 BL86 by astronomers, will sweep safely past Earth on January 26, 2015. It will be the closest of any known space rock this large until asteroid 1999 AN10 flies past Earth in 2027, and it’ll be the closest this particular asteroid will come to Earth for at least the next 200 years. Watch with optical aid, or online. Follow the links inside for more.

Seasons are changing on Rosetta’s comet

Via ESA NAVCAM Rosetta.

Rosetta obtained this image of its comet on January 16. Contrast it to an image inside, and you’ll see how the “seasons” are changing on the comet. Image via ESA NAVCAM Rosetta.

While its Philae Lander continues to ‘sleep,’ waiting for the sun to rise high enough in its sky for its solar panels to begin generating power again, the Rosetta spacecraft continues its science mission at Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko. The image above is an amazing four-frame mosaic from Rosetta’s Navigation Camera (NAVCAM), taken on January 16. The orientation of the Rosetta Spacecraft and time of day on the comet is identical to the images obtained back on November 2. Click inside and compare …

Little auks adapt to warming Arctic

Little auks. Photo:  © Allan Hopkins/Flickr

Little auks. Photo: © Allan Hopkins/Flickr

This little bird, that looks kind of like a flying penguin, has got scientists rethinking how polar ecosystems are changing in our warming world.

This date in science: Sweden goes first to ban aerosol sprays

Ozone hole over Antarctica on September 11, 2014.  This is the date on which, NASA said, the hole reached its maximum extent for 2014.

Ozone hole over Antarctica on September 11, 2014. This is the date on which, NASA said, the hole reached its maximum extent for last year. NASA also said the 2014 ozone hole was holding steady in size, in comparison to other ozone holes in recent years. Image via NASA/Ozone Hole Watch.

January 23, 1978. On this date, Sweden announced it would ban aerosol sprays containing chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) as the propelling agent. It was the first country in the world to do so. Scientific evidence had mounted that CFCs were damaging to Earth’s ozone layer. Sweden was the first to act on this evidence, which came before before the discovery of the Antarctic ozone hole. Virtually every country on Earth ultimately followed Sweden in banning CFCs, via an international treaty known as the Montreal Protocol. Follow the links inside to learn more, and to get an update on the most recent ozone hole over Antarctica.

Tides, and the pull of the moon and sun

This beautiful image is from EarthSky Facebook friend John Lloyd Griffith

The sun and moon, the shape of a beach and larger coastline, the angle of a seabed leading up to land, and the prevailing ocean currents and winds all affect the height of the tides.

Lifeform of the week: Puffer fish

For such a dangerous creature, the puffer fish’s appearance is almost comically harmless. Portly and bug-eyed, puffer fish totter through tropical waters looking like the perfect target – meaty, juicy, and too slow to get away. But predators might think twice about pursuing them, as puffers are among the most poisonous animals on earth.

Electrifying view inside a cyclone from ISS

Lightning inside Tropical Storm via Samantha Cristoforetti aboard the International Space Station.

Lightning inside Cyclone Bansi in the Indian Ocean – January 15, 2015 – via Samantha Cristoforetti aboard the International Space Station.

Samantha Cristoforetti aboard ISS captured lightning flashing inside Tropical Cyclone Bansi a couple of days ago, as the space station flew above the Indian Ocean. At the time, Bansi was a strong cyclone equivalent to a Category 4 storm with a symmetric eye. Simply one of the most amazing and breathtaking weather photos I have ever seen!

What are cloud streets?

NASA's Aqua satellite captured this image of cloud streets over the Black Sea on January 8, 2015.  NASA Earth Observatory image courtesy Jeff Schmaltz LANCE/EOSDIS MODIS Rapid Response Team, GSFC.

NASA’s Aqua satellite captured this image of cloud streets over the Black Sea on January 8, 2015. NASA Earth Observatory image courtesy Jeff Schmaltz LANCE/EOSDIS MODIS Rapid Response Team, GSFC.

Cloud streets are long rows of cumulus clouds that are oriented parallel to the direction of the wind. They’re formed by convection rolls of rising warm air and sinking cool air, and ultimately become oriented parallel to the direction of the wind. Check out some cool images of cloud streets, inside.

2014 warmest year on record

Global temperature percentiles for 2014. Image Credit: NOAA

Global temperature percentiles for 2014. Image via NOAA

It’s official. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) confirmed on January 16, 2015 that 2014 was Earth’s warmest year since record-keeping began in 1880. The year 2010 owned the title for warmest year prior to 2014, with 2005 and 1998 just behind it. It might have been cool where you lived, but most of the globe was experiencing temperatures well above average. The report also says that global oceans experienced the warmest year ever recorded, making ocean temps in 2014 the highest among all years in the 1880–2014 record, and surpassing the previous records of 1998 and 2003 by 0.09°F (0.05°C).

Arctic continues to warm at twice global rate

Sunpillar over the Arctic plain. Image Credit: Rear Admiral Harley D. Nygren (ret.), NOAA.

Sunpillar over the Arctic plain. Image Credit: Rear Admiral Harley D. Nygren (ret.), NOAA.

Warming in the Arctic during 2014 continued to outpace the warming at lower latitudes, according to the Arctic Report Card that was released by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on December 17, 2014. Higher levels of warming in the Arctic have been commonplace over much of the past decade.