Astronomy

Jupiter lost a stripe!

Uranus brings surprising events, and as Jupiter is nearing a conjunction to Uranus we see this news:

Jupiter has lost one of its prominent stripes, leaving its southern half looking unusually blank. Scientists are not sure what triggered the disappearance of the band.

Jupiter’s appearance is usually dominated by two dark bands in its atmosphere – one in the northern hemisphere and one in the southern hemisphere.

But recent images taken by amateur astronomers show that the southern band – called the south equatorial belt – has disappeared.

The band was present at the end of 2009, right before Jupiter moved too close to the sun in the sky to be observed from Earth. When the planet emerged from the sun’s glare again in early April, its south equatorial belt was nowhere to be seen.

As our observation equipment becomes more precise we will have the opportunity to observe more planetary changes.  Not all of these changes affect us directly, but the synchronicity is always interesting!

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By |2010-05-13T17:35:31-04:00May 13th, 2010|Astronomy|1 Comment

Saturn’s hexagon simulated in lab

Thanks to Rich for this link.

When scientists monitoring the Voyager Mission first discovered a hexagon on Saturn (here’s an article I wrote on the subject back in 2007), it was an astonishing event.  Now researchers in Oxford appear to have duplicated this phenomenon in the lab:

The Oxford researchers made a model of Saturn’s North Pole. A slowly-spinning cylinder of water represented Saturn’s atmosphere, and a small, rapidly-spinning ring represented a jet stream. They added some fluorescent green dye, and got a pretty well-defined hexagon.

By playing with the speed of the ring, the researchers could make nearly any shape that they wanted. The greater the difference in speed between the water and the ring, the fewer sides the polygon had. The shape seems to be bound by eddies that slowly orbit and confine the inner ring into the polygon.

It’s an interesting coincidence that scientists (Uranus) claim to have duplicated this phenomenon on Saturn just as Uranus in the sky faces off in an opposition against Saturn!

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By |2010-04-22T15:27:03-04:00April 22nd, 2010|Astronomy|Comments Off on Saturn’s hexagon simulated in lab

Low solar activity linked to cool UK winter

Last year’s cold winter sparked a huge resurgence into the global warming debate.  If the earth is warming, why did we have a cold winter?

We’ve been in a “Solar Minimum” since about 2006, a long period with virtually no solar activity.  I’ve been writing about this for quite some time in these pages as you’ll see from these links.  Much of the hysteria over 2012 stems from the fact that we were due for a Solar Maximum period in 2012 which could create chaos in communication systems and electrical grids, but the extended minimum period, which ended just this year, suggests that we won’t hit the Solar Maximum period now until at least 2014.

have now identified a link between low sunspot activity and atmospheric conditions on Earth.  This year’s winter, according to Professor Mike Lockwood, was the coldest in 160 years.  He attributes the connection to a phenomenon called “blocking” which involvles the movement of the jet stream of the northern hemisphere.

“If you haven’t got blocking, then the jet stream brings the mild, wet westerly winds to give us the weather we are famous for.”

But, he added, if the jet stream is “blocked”, and pushed further northwards, then cold, dry winds from the east flow over Europe, resulting in a sharp fall in temperatures.

“This… ‘blocking’ does seem to be one of the things that can be modulated by solar activity,” he said.

Recent studies suggest that when solar activity is low, “blocking” events move eastwards from above north-eastern North America towards Europe, and become more stable.

A prolonged “blocking” during the most recent winter was responsible for the long spell of freezing conditions that gripped Europe.

Written observations from […]

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By |2010-04-15T08:04:52-04:00April 15th, 2010|Astronomy|Comments Off on Low solar activity linked to cool UK winter

Mercury and Venus light up the night

Mercury and Venus are aligning in the sky and over the next week or so they will be beaming a beautifully bright light from the western sky, appearing as the brightest “star” visible in the heavens.  Normally Mercury moves a little more quickly than Venus but at the moment Mercury is slowing down in preparation for its retrograde turn on the 17th so the two planets will be within three degrees of each other until around April 11th.

Astrologically, Mercury (the mind) and Venus (relating)  are both in the sign of Taurus which is ruled by Venus, so the influence Venus is particularly strong there.  Anything having to do with communication between individuals such as negotiations or detailed planning sessions are favorable under this influence.  It is easier now to express your viewpoints and have them be clearly understood, and this influence is also favorable for financial matters.

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By |2010-03-31T17:30:12-04:00March 31st, 2010|Astronomy|3 Comments
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