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  • Here is another spiral flow event, this one is of natural origin. -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids

    THE SPIRAL CORE OF COMET 12P: Around the world, astronomers are monitoring Comet 12P/Pons-Brooks as it approaches the sun for a close encounter in April. Most cameras are focused on the comet's magnificent tail, which is growing longer every night. Norwegian astronomer Jan Erik Vallestad decided instead to take a closer look at the comet's core--and there he found a spiral:


    "The image has been processed in Pixinsight with moderate stretching to reveal structure in the core," explains Vallestad. "This is doable because the core itself was not 'blown out' (saturated) in my original data." Other astronomers have also noticed the spiral or "yin-yang shape" of the comet's core; it appears to be real.

    Juris Seņņikovs of Dobele, Latvia, is a believer. Last night he photographed the comet and found the spiral, too:


    "After seeing today's front-page image from Jan Erik Vallestad, I processed my image of Comet 12P/Pons-Brooks in a similar way," says Seņņikovs. "Much to my surprise, I also got a spiral around the comet's core. Without processing one can easily miss this structure."

    Why spiral? Take a look at the comet's lightcurve. Some astronomers believe that 12P's frequent outbursts are a sign of "cryovolcanism." According to this idea, the comet's surface is peppered with geysers, which spew icy plumes of dust and gas into space when fragile vents are exposed to sunlight. Such exhaust plumes would naturally bend themselves into spirals as the comet rotates.

    Comet 12P is currently located in the western sky after sunset, about 15 degrees above the horizon for most observers. Shining as brightly as a 6th magnitude star, the comet has been posing alongside the Andromeda Nebula for beauty shots all month long. Point your telescope here and take a look!

  • The famous Norway neon spiral that occurred on December 8, 2009 has caused many to question the many prehistoric spirals and spirals in crop circles. Are these warnings of what is to come?


    Spirals have appeared in prehistoric glyphs, drawn on cave walls along with the animals early man hunted. What was the significance of these spirals, which until now had no explanation? Perhaps early man saw them in the sky prior to a pole shift, and this was their way of telling the story. If so, we can expect more massive spirals in the sky as the time of the magnetic pole shift approaches.


    My word they are bringing these silly cover stories out its Space X..Well that famous one in norway 2009 always had me puzzled when I first saw it...And crop circles they appear in and Space X wasn t around 1000`s of years ago let alone 2009..

  • An example of extraordinary phenomena in the sky... -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids

    A NEW SPACEX SPIRAL: Update: SpaceX is to blame. On Monday night, a luminous blue spiral appeared in the night sky over Lofoten, Norway. Bettina Begtoft photographed the apparition on March 5th as it sank into the Barents Sea:


    "I noticed it at 2:02 am local time," says Begtoft. "To the naked eye it looked white, but my Nikon D750 camera revealed the beautiful blue color."

    Begtoft witnessed a "SpaceX spiral." About an hour earlier (Sunday, March 4th at March 4th at 22:05 UT), SpaceX launched a Falcon 9 rocket from California's Vandenberg Space Force Base. It carried 53 small satellites to Earth-orbit, a mission known as Transporter-10. When the rocket's discarded 2nd stage passed over Barents sea, it performed a de-orbit burn. A bit of spin turned the exhaust into a spectacular spiral.

    Aurora photographer Shang Yang saw the same spiral from Iceland:


    "I caught this in Akureyri around 1 a.m. local time on March 5th," says Yang. "It looked otherworldly against the Northern Lights!"

    As strange as they appear, these spirals are a routine by-product of SpaceX operations. Similar blue swirls have been seen after many Falcon 9 launches including this one over New Zealand, another over east Africa, two more above Hawaii, and most famous of all, this specimen over Alaska.

    Astronomer Olivier Staiger actually predicted the March 5th spiral, and he explains why it has a spiral shape: "On rideshare missions like Transporter-10, the numerous satellites from various clients have different destinations. SpaceX must rotate stage 2 for deployment. As a result, stage 2 is still rotating when they do the de-orbit burn and thus creates a spiral."

    Bouyed by last night's success, Staiger is predicting another spiral in October. "The Transporter-12 mission in October could be epic with excellent equinox auroras, Comet Tsuchinshan-ATLAS, and the Draconid and Orionid meteor showers," he says. "See you in Iceland!"

    Readers, did you see the spiral? Submit your photos here.

  • -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids

    THIS SUN HALO IS NOT SUPPOSED TO BE HERE YET: Residents of the US midwest have been experiencing strange weather this week. Winter isn't over, but it feels like spring. People are playing golf in shortsleeves, flowers are blooming, and pollen is in the air. Indeed, there's so much pollen it's making halos around the sun:


    Mike S. Nomine photographed this example yesterday in Jefferson City, Missouri. "I was driving home at dusk when I noticed this pollen halo," he says. "There were multiple rings of light around the setting sun."

    This halo isn't supposed to be here yet. It's only February! Pollen halos usually wait for spring.

    In fact, February does have sun halos, but they're made of ice. Frozen crystals in winter clouds refract sunlight to create a wide 22-degree circle around the sun. Pollen halos (also known as "pollen coronas") distinguish themselves from ice halos by their pastel color and tight clustering around the sun. If you live in the midwest, watch for them this week as the strange weather continues.

  • Green light from the Venus spacecraft


  • -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids

    A GREEN FLASH FROM VENUS: You've heard of green flashes on the sun. But what about green flashes on Venus? They're real. Peter Rosén just saw one over Stockholm, Sweden:


    "On Monday morning I woke up early to get a beautiful view of Venus and the Moon rising over Stockholm's skyline," says Rosén. "Because of the extreme cold that still persists over southern Sweden, I also got an unexpected bonus in the form of a rare green flash on Venus."

    Green flashes happen because Earth's low atmosphere acts like a prism, splitting white light into R-G-B colors. A low-hanging planet like Venus can turn into a miniature rainbow. The flash appears when unusually sharp temperature gradients in the air magnify one color or another--in this case, green.

    Green flashes on Venus have been observed before, but Rosén's video may be the best ever. "It was a magnificent sight," he says.

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