Crescent Moon and Crescent Venus
Spooky clouds and shadowy contrails divide this image of our moon at extreme crescent, and Venus showing the same cookie-like shape.
Why does Venus show phases? It orbits the sun, same as any of us. This image explains it well (via Wikipedia):
(Photo above by Christoph Malin via APOD)
It’s a cloudy, cold, wet day here in Austin, and I’ve been working my neurons to their myelinated bones getting ready to film a bunch of stuff before the holidays … I really needed this.
Enjoy Michael Shainblum’s Into the Atmosphere, a timelapse exploration of the great state of California, over 12,000 photos stitched together in a stunning moving portrait.
THOSE SUNSET COLORS … AHHHHHHH i can’t
And thanks to the fine folks at Vice/The Creators Project, here’s a behind the scenes feature on how Shainblum does his work, and overcomes his learning disabilities through art:
What if all the ice melted?
The ocean holds most of Earth’s water. After that, it’s ice. 5.7 million cubic miles of the stuff.
What if, thanks to natural and man-made climate change, it all melted? What if, by burning enough deep-Earth carbon (dead dinosaurs, prehistoric plants, or as we call it… fossil fuels) we raised Earth’s average temperature to around 80˚ F? What if that new normal caused the ocean’s now-warmer water to expand, rising even further?
Thanks to National Geographic we know: This is is what 216 feet (66 meters) of sea level change looks like.
The World Outside My Window
I have seen my fair share of orbital time-lapses, and this one, by David Peterson, had me frozen still in my seat, gazing at my screen in a state of happy contentment that can only be dutifully accompanied by a smile and maybe a goosebump or three.
What gets me about this one is how deep and textured some of the clouds look. So often, images of Earth from space make it look flat, like the painted blue marble it is so often compared to.
The International Space Station is currently zipping around at 7.7 kilometers per second above Earth, pretty fast considering it’s only 15 years old, and still a year away from getting a driver’s license.
A Grander Canyon
Last Friday, a rare and beautiful thing happened in Arizona’s Grand Canyon. It filled with fog. We’re used to seeing clouds above the Grand Canyon…
…not IN it. This cottony ocean was caused by a meteorological phenomenon called a temperature inversion.
A temperature inversion is when the normally warm layer of air near the Earth’s surface, normally heated by convection currents from the sun-baked land beneath it, is replaced by a colder air mass. This can happen when a warm front flows over the top of a cooler one, often in winter months.
Although the desert air in Arizona is pretty arid, as the cool atmosphere poured into the canyon, what little water there was condensed into clouds, flowing like waterfalls and filling the mighty canyon with a billowing ocean.
(images via Grand Canyon National Park on Facebook)
Eclipse at 44,000 feet
This photo is beyond words, but I’ll try anyway! While many awesome eclipse photos floating around the interwebs are fake (like this one), I assure you this otherworldly scene is 100% real.
It’s incredible for not only what it shows, but how ridonkulously difficult it was to take in the first place:
Last weekend’s solar eclipse (as seen here from space) was a short one, and it traced much of its inky path over the Atlantic ocean, meaning that, unless you were a particularly astronomically-minded whale, you didn’t get to see it first-hand.
That didn’t stop the folks behind this photo. Ben Cooper and his team chartered a jet out of Bermuda and set off to intercept the eclipse over the open ocean.
Here’s where it gets tough. Their plane was flying at 500 mph, aiming perpendicularly (north-south) across the path of the eclipse. The moon’s shadow, crossing in front of the sun, was traveling across the Atlantic at 8,000 mph. From their longitude, the eclipse was only set to last 10-15 seconds. They had to essentially hit a bullet with another bullet, in a ten second window, and take a picture of it to boot.
And what a picture they got! Just an instant after totality the sun is beginning to creep out from behind the moon, creating a “diamond ring” effect. The plane and the clouds below are bathed in darkness, while billows along the horizon glow, still bathed in non-eclipsed light. Wow.
If you need me, I’ll be staring at this for a few hours.
The solar eclipse of November 3, 2013, as seen from space.
Meteosat 10 captured the moon’s shadow as it traversed the eastern Atlantic and western Africa (hi-res version). You can see two distinct portions of the eclipse shadow. The dark area in the center is the umbra, where the sun is completely obscured by the passing moon. The intermediate shadow is the penumbra, where the sun is only partially eclipsed, a smoky gradient of fading light reaching out from the umbra. See Wikipedia for more umbrology, and check out Phil Plait’s Bad Astronomy for more eclipse images.