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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.

Chinese New Year 2015 will ring in Year of the Sheep

Image by Michael Maggs via Wikimedia Commons

Image by Michael Maggs via Wikimedia Commons

Over a billion people in China and millions around the world will celebrate the first day of the Chinese New Year on February 18-19, 2015. It’ll be February 18 according to U.S. calendars, and February 19 in Asia. It’s the most important of Chinese holidays, kicking off a celebration that lasts for 15 days …

Dates of lunar and solar eclipses in 2015 and 2016

Solar eclipse November 3, 2013 by Ken Christison

Solar eclipse November 3, 2013 by Ken Christison

The next eclipse is a total eclipse of the sun on April 4. Want more? Follow the links inside to learn the dates for upcoming solar and lunar eclipses in 2015 and 2016. Enjoy.

How many solar and lunar eclipses in one calendar year?

Image credit: Luc Viatour

Image credit: Luc Viatour

Eclipses of the sun and moon excite more interest than any other event in astronomy. And no wonder. It’s a thrill to go outdoors, witness these grand spectacles of nature, and stand in line with the sun, Earth and moon. How rare are these events? Follow the links inside to learn more about lunar and solar eclipses.

Awesome new project Sounds of the Night

The Project Nightflight team captured this photo at La Palma Island in the Canary Islands of Spain.  Click here to visit Sounds of the Night, where you can see this photo and hear the sound of the waves.

The Project Nightflight team captured this photo at La Palma Island in the Canary Islands of Spain.

Project Nightflight – a team of astrophotographers, led by Karoline Mrazek and Erwin Matys in Vienna, Austria – has just released a beautiful new project, which they are calling Sounds of the Night. It consists of multimedia astrophotos – not just a beautiful night sky, but also the sounds you’d have heard if you’d been there with them taking the photos. Look inside for the link to the project, which will let you see astrophotos accompanied by the sounds of ocean waves, crickets chirping, nocturnal birds and more.

When is the next meteor shower?

Lyrids and others via NASA/MSFC/D. Moser

Lyrids and others via NASA/MSFC/D. Moser

After the Quadrantid meteor shower in early January each year, we have a lull in meteor shower activity. No major showers are predicted between now and the second half of April, when the Lyrid meteor shower will take place. Between now and then, we also have fireball season, which happens for a few weeks around the March equinox. Follow the links inside to learn more about what to expect for meteor showers over the coming months.

Mind-boggling Fermi Bubbles probed via quasar light

View larger. |  The mind-boggling Fermi Bubbles, discovered in 2010, extend above and below the plane of our Milky Way galaxy.  They shine in gamma rays and x-rays and thus are invisible to the human eye.  The graphic shows how the Hubble Space Telescope was used to probe the light from a distant quasar ... to analyze the Fermi Bubbles. The quasar's light passed through one of the bubbles. Imprinted on that light is information about the outflow's speed, composition, and eventually mass.  Image via HubbleSite

The Fermi Bubbles, discovered in 2010, extend above and below the plane of our Milky Way galaxy. They shine in gamma rays, x-rays and radio waves but are invisible to the human eye. Image via HubbleSite.

There’s news this week from the ongoing meeting of astronomers in Seattle about the wonderful Fermi Bubbles, a vast apparent shock wave feature discovered in 2010, extending above and below the plane of our Milky Way galaxy. Astronomers have ingeniously used the light of a quasar to probe one of the bubbles, greatly increasing what we know about it. They’ve learned, among other things, that a wind is blowing from our galaxy’s core, driving the material that pushes the bubbles outward, at some 2 million miles per hour (3 million kph).