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Space

What the northern lights look like from a U-2 spy plane at 70,000ft.

U-2 pilot and instructor and avid photographer Ross Franquemont took these snaps of the spectacular aurora borealis — or, northern lights, while flying the legendary U-2 spycraft.

“I had no idea how fast the aurora moved and changed. It danced around, changing shape several times a second. That made it a challenge for the photographer in a spacesuit sitting in shaking metal can moving 500 mph,” Ross told The Aviationist about the photos.

The northern lights, which also occur in the Southern Hemisphere — the “Aurora Australis” — have always fascinated mankind. They develop as a result of a solar storm that originates from the sun and blows a stream of charged electrons toward Earth.

The process creates a natural light phenomenon when the electrons collide with the Earth’s upper atmosphere. The colors green and red display between 60 to 150 miles in altitude when the electrons hit atoms of oxygen. Meanwhile, the blue and purple/violet colors occur up to 60 miles away from Earth’s magnetic field.

What the northern lights look like from a U-2 spy plane at 70,000ft.
What the northern lights look like from a U-2 spy plane at 70,000ft.
What the northern lights look like from a U-2 spy plane at 70,000ft.
What the northern lights look like from a U-2 spy plane at 70,000ft.
Categories
Science Space

See the sharpest movie of the sun ever made, with each plasma cell the size of Texas

The sun is about 93,000,000 miles away from Earth. The sun’s light travels at the speed of 186,000 miles per second, in total taking just 8 minutes to reach us.

The National Solar Observatory (NSO) has brought us the sharpest view of the sun we’ve seen yet using the Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope. Each plasma cell is about the size of Texas.

This is how NSO describes capturing the footage:

The Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope has produced the highest resolution observations of the Sun’s surface ever taken. In this movie, taken at a wavelength of 705nm over a period of 10 minutes, we can see features as small as 30km (18 miles) in size for the first time ever. The movie shows the turbulent, “boiling” gas that covers the entire sun.

The cell-like structures – each about the size of Texas – are the signature of violent motions that transport heat from the inside of the sun to its surface. Hot solar material (plasma) rises in the bright centers of “cells,” cools off and then sinks below the surface in dark lanes in a process known as convection. In these dark lanes we can also see the tiny, bright markers of magnetic fields. Never before seen to this clarity, these bright specks are thought to channel energy up into the outer layers of the solar atmosphere called the corona. These bright spots may be at the core of why the solar corona is more than a million degrees!

Categories
Architecture & Design Nature Science Travel

Photographer captures rare Devil Horns solar eclipse over the Persian Gulf

Avid photographer Elias Chasiotis captured an incredible ‘red devil horns’ sunrise over the Persian Gulf during a rare solar eclipse just before the new year.

The amateur photographer was vacationing in the coastal city of Al Wakrah in Qatar on December 26 when he snapped the rare spectacle of moon blocking the sun.

“Astronomy has attracted me since I was a kid,” Chasiotis said in an interview with Bored Panda. “I’ve been an amateur astrophotographer for the last 15 years as well. I took these photos in the coastal city of Al Wakrah, Qatar, on the morning of December 26, 2019, when an annular eclipse was in progress.”

“I was worried that nothing would come out of the eclipse. However, when the sun finally began to rise, it looked like two separate pieces, some sort of red horns piercing the sea. It soon took the form of a crescent, with the so-called ‘Etruscan vase’ inferior mirage effect visible. Due to its shape, the phenomenon was nicknamed the ‘evil sunrise.’”

Interestingly, the stunning images of the red crescent sunrise emerged a few days before the death of Iranian General Qasem Soleimani.

Make of that what you will.

See more of Chasiotis’s photos on Facebook.

Categories
Science Space

What the sunset looks like on Mars

NASA’s Curiosity Rover photographed this view of the sun setting from its 956th Martian day on Mars.

The above image is actually a sequence of four images taken over a span of 6 minutes, 51 seconds. Check out the full GIF below.

Said Mark Lemmon of Texas A&M University, College Station who planned the Curiosity mission: “The colors come from the fact that the very fine dust is the right size so that blue light penetrates the atmosphere slightly more efficiently.

“When the blue light scatters off the dust, it stays closer to the direction of the sun than light of other colors does. The rest of the sky is yellow to orange, as yellow and red light scatter all over the sky instead of being absorbed or staying close to the sun.”

So cool.