Stunning images captured on Earth and from Space of weather and climate-related phenomena and interesting objects or events found in our amazing universe
A high-resolution image (from NOAA-18) of tropical storm Ophelia as it closed in on Ireland on Monday, October 16th, 2017. Hurricane Ophelia was the seventeenth tropical cyclone, fifteenth named storm, and the sixth major hurricane of the 2017 Atlantic Basin hurricane season, but never had an impact on the US mainland. Ophelia had non-tropical origins, developing on October 9 out of a decaying cold front that had stalled over the North Atlantic in early October. Ophelia crossed the northern Atlantic Ocean in recent days and had a significant impact on Ireland early on Monday morning with wind gusts over 100 mph.
The heavy rain of the past winter in California set the stage for above-normal wildfire activity during the summer and now during the fall season. Ironically, when rain is abundant during the winter season in California - as was the case in the winter of 2016-2017 - that can actually lead to more wildfires compared to normal during the dry season. The reason for this is that underbrush tends to grow abundantly in the spring given moist ground conditions and this ends up acting as "fuel" to the fire that normally takes place in the dry season. On Monday, October 9th, 2017, wildfires are expanding across wine country in northern California as seen here in this (non-operational) GOES-16 image.
A 3-D look at Tropical Storm Harvey on August 29th, 2017 after its low-level circulation center re-emerged over the open waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Higher and thicker clouds can be seen to the north and east of the low-level circulation center and those clouds are associated with heavy rain bands that extend from northeast Texas to southern Louisiana at this particular time period.
The "Great American Solar Eclipse" took place on Monday, August 21st, 2017 with a 70-mile path of totality stretching from Oregon to South Carolina. Outside of the totality path, the rest of the country experienced a partial solar eclipse of at least 48% coverage. This series of photographs was taken by Vencore, Inc. employee Dr. Ryan Mercovich (Valley Forge) in southwestern North Carolina just near the Great Smoky National Park. The next total solar eclipse in the US will be in April 2024 and its totality path will stretch from Texas to Maine and includes such cities as Buffalo, NY and Erie, PA.
A partial lunar eclipse took place on August 7/8, 2017, the second of two lunar eclipses in 2017. The Moon was only slightly covered by the Earth's umbral shadow at maximum eclipse. The lunar eclipse resulted in this scene from the ancient Greek temple of Poseidon at Sounion, Greece. The Moon grazed the shadow of our planet for nearly two hours, giving sky watchers in Europe, Asia, Africa and Australia a view of the event. At maximum, about 25% of the full Moon's terrain was darkened. The temple was open to the public and crowded with people who gathered to enjoy the eclipse.
[Photo courtesy Elias Chasiotis and spaceweather.com]
Super Typhoon Noru is now a category 4 storm after having peaked as a category 5 on Sunday, July 30th, 2017. This close up image comes from Japan's Himawari meteorological satellite.
After the heavy rainfall of the past weekend, drier air moved into the Mid-Atlantic region on Tuesday, July 25th. The drier air is captured well in this GOES-16 water vapor image.
The recent quiet period on sun was interrupted last week with the emergence of the largest sunspot region of the year so far officially known as AR2665. This sunspot region quickly grew to behemoth levels stretching more than 125,000 km from end-to-end. This region moved to a position directly facing the Earth and then erupted on July 14th sending a coronal mass ejection right towards the Earth's upper-atmosphere. The ultimate result was a wide array of northern lights across northern latitudes for back-to-back nights. This particular photo was taken on July 17th near the Bashaw region of central Alberto, Canada.
After numerous postponements due to clouds, haze, etc., NASA finally successfully launched a sounding rocket on June 29th, 2017 at the Wallops Island, Virginia facility. Luminescent artificial clouds were produced around 100 miles above the Earth's surface and these "vapor tracers" provided information to ground observers at two different locations (Wallops Island, VA, Duck, NC) regarding very high altitude winds. The "vapor tracers" were formed through the interaction of barium, strontium and cupric-oxide and were visible in the early morning hours from the Outer Banks of North Carolina to New York City.
This photograph of asperatus clouds was taken in Poland during the week of June 11, 2017 (credit Jacek Mrugacz). Asperitas (formerly known as Undulatus asperatus) is a cloud formation that was first popularized and proposed as a type of cloud in 2009 by Gavin Pretor-Pinney of the Cloud Appreciation Society. Added to the International Cloud Atlas as a supplementary feature in March of 2017, it is the first cloud formation added since "cirrus intortus" was added in 1951. The name translates approximately as "roughness".[source wikipedia]
The clouds are closely related to undulatus clouds and form in the same sort of conditions that produce mamma clouds (also known as mammatus), but in this case, the winds up at cloud level cause the clouds to be sheared into wavelike formations known as undulatus. Although they appear dark and storm-like, they almost always dissipate without a storm forming. The ominous-looking clouds have been particularly common in the Plains states of the United States, often during the morning or midday hours following convective thunderstorm activity.
Vortices appear in this colorized water vapor image from June 7th, 2017 along both the north and south edges of upper-level easterly flow (image courtesy University of Wisconsin/CIMSS).
GOES-16 colorized water vapor image which reveals an upper-level feature in the central Plains and moisture associated with a low-level wave across the Mid-Atlantic. The upper-level low in the central Plains contributed to severe weather yesterday and is likely to again today (Thursday, May 11th) and the low-level wave in the Mid-Atlantic is producing some heavy shower activity.
There is unusual cold for the beginning of May in parts of the nation and accumulating snow has been the result in the central Plains. These two images are viewpoints from two different satellite systems. The image on the left is from NOAA's GOES-16 satellite (formerly known as GOES-R) and a MODIS image in on the right.
This is a view we don’t usually get to see: the moon setting behind the horizon as seen from Japan’s Himawari-8 satellite (courtesy Washington Post/Capital Weather Gang). According to CWG, the “camera” technology is similar to that of GOES-16, NOAA’s new weather satellite. These are the most high-resolution images taken of the Earth from geostationary satellites — the ones that park over and continuously monitor a specific point. In the case of Himawari, it’s the western Pacific Ocean. The satellite is about 26,200 miles above the surface of the Earth. The distance to the moon is 11 times that.
Circled area on GOES-16 colorized IR image shows overshooting top of tornado-producing thunderstorm cell in SW Georgia (April 5th, 2017).