Stunning images captured on Earth and from Space of weather and climate-related phenomena and interesting objects or events found in our amazing universe
GOES-16 with an absolutely stunning view of Pennsylvania's snow-covered topography on Thursday, January 18, 2018.
Landsat 8 captures snowfall in the Sahara Desert for just the third time in 40 yrs. Snow has fallen in the Sahara, covering desert dunes in a layer up to 40 cm deep. Snow started falling on the Algerian town of Ain Sefra in the early hours of Sunday morning, January 7, 2018, giving children an opportunity to race each other down the slopes. Rising temperatures meant it began to melt later in the day. It is the third time in nearly 40 years the town, known as “The Gateway to the Desert”, has seen snowfall.
This GOES-16 satellite image captures a dust storm (center of image) on December 19th, 2017 over the western edge of the Saharan Desert and the eastern Atlantic Ocean. Dust storms are caused by strong winds passing over the loose particles of sandy soils, causing them move over the ground and fracture, freeing smaller particles -- i.e., the dust -- that become airborne and transported by the wind. Scientists estimate that, on average, about 20 teragrams of dust are suspended in the atmosphere at any given time and, about half of it is thought to originates in North Africa, due to both the abundance of dust sources there and the region's position under the subtropical jet stream, which carries dust around the world. The rest is said to come from just a handful of other well-known dust-producing regions, including northwestern China’s Taklimakan Desert, parts of Arabia, Iran, the shore of the Caspian Sea, the Lake Eyre Basin in Australia, and the area around Utah’s Great Salt Lake.
MODIS imagery (right) depicts the snowcover from the Saturday, December 9th, 2017, storm with snow all the way down into the Deep South. The actual NOAA snowcover map on the left displays the same strip from the Deep South into the Northeast US.
On 14 November 2017 at about 16:45 GMT a football-sized meteoroid entered Earth’s atmosphere about 50 km northeast of Darmstadt, Germany. It created a bright fireball in the sky, which was seen by thousands of people in Germany, France, Switzerland, Austria and Luxembourg, and was reported widely by media.
This remarkable image was taken by Ollie Taylor, a photographer from Dorset, UK, who happened to be on a shoot in Italy, in the Dolomites. The landscape scene shows the village of La Villa, Alta Badia, with Ursa Major seen in the background sky.
At dusk on 14 November, he was setting up for a night landscape shoot at Passo Falzarego, at 2200 m altitude, in clear but chilly –6ºC weather.
Ollie reports: “I was composing a shot of this scene and Ursa Major, seen above the meteor. I wanted to get it at twilight so the sky had a nice pink hue. I just decided I was not getting close enough, and was reaching for my other camera with a longer lens, luckily I left this camera exposing!
“It was a stroke of luck, as it’s given me not only the meteor, but great landscape background, too.”
Small lumps of rock enter our atmosphere every day, but it is rare for one to burn so brightly and to be seen by so many people.
“Owing to the meteoroid’s very high speed, estimated to be at least 70 000 km/h, it super-heated the air molecules in its path as it decelerated, creating a very luminous fireball,” adds Rudiger Jehn, of ESA’s Space Situational Awareness programme.
“Observers reported the meteoroid in detail, which allowed us to estimate its final fate: burning up at an altitude of around 50 km above Luxembourg.”
By yesterday, over 1150 sightings had been submitted to the International Meteor Organization, which runs a website to gather sightings of such events worldwide.
[Courtesy European Space Agency, Ollie Taylor]
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.