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Solar Cycle And Dancing Lights- Aurora 2013

As described in my earlier posts, our local star Sun, undergoes a natural cycle of roughly 11 years and  it’s peak activity it is manifested by increase in number of solar spots, coronal mass ejections (CME), enormous magnetic waves.  CMEs when they travel to earth are then directed by earth’s magnetic fields towards earths poles which leads to display of beautiful Aurora or dancing lights. Auroras are result of the interaction between ions and electrons from the solar wind with Earth’s magnetic field and upper atmosphere. During Coronal Mass Ejections from the sun, high energetic ions are bombarded towards the earth. These ions migrate towards poles due to Earth’s magnetic fields, that’s why this phenomenon is seen mostly at Northern and Southern poles of the earth. These high energetic ions interact with Oxygen and Nitrogen of the upper atmosphere and excite them to higher energy levels. When the atoms fallback to ground state it emits light typical to particular atom. Oxygen emits at a wavelength of 558 nm (green) and at 630 nm (red ). Emission at 558 nm is more prominent and that’s how Aurora gets it’s greenish color. A slight tinge of red color can also be seen at times.  Auroras in other colors have also been seen such as blue and purple but green ones are most prominent. Here is a beautiful timelapse video captured by Christian Mülhauser in Norway during Feb 2013.

2013 is supposed to be solar maxima but unfortunately, our Sun has been low in activity and has defied many predictions, probably the weakest in more than a century. Solar activity is also measured by the number of solar spots observed and this time maximum solar spots observed has been 67 (observed in Feb 2011) and since then it has been low and it appears that it will slowing down now onwards. As compared to this cycle, more than ~150 sun spots (2003) were observed in last solar cycle.

A lull in solar activity means reduced Aurora display on earth which is sad. Although last week there was a short burst of activity which resulted on some Aurora display and was captured by Astro Photographer Göran Strand in Sweden on Oct 2nd, 2013. Enjoy the videos by  Göran Strand and Christian Mülhauser and hopefully solar activity picks up!

Soruces:  http://solarscience.msfc.nasa.gov/predict.shtml

http://www.astrofotografen.se/

https://vimeo.com/62534688

Leave a Comment October 8, 2013

Movie Gravity Reminded Me Of These Awesome ISS Pictures Taken From Earth

Movie “Gravity” released past week is one of the best space movie as far as I can remember aided by  superlative 3D special effects. If you havn’t watched the movie yet, it is highly recommended that you should visit your nearby 3D Theatre and enjoy the thrill of being in space via movie Gravity. I am not going to write a review of the movie in this post, but I just wanted to post few pictures of International Space Station (ISS) which has been featured in this movie. It is difficult to imagine that one can view ISS and shuttle from the ground with naked eye, but it is possible to see ISS as well as shuttle and in fact any satellite if timed appropriately.

 What you see above is the image of sun and the speckle you see are the images of solar transit of ISS and shuttle Atlantis after undocking from ISS and returning back to earth. This stunning image has been taken by photographer Thierry Legault during Sep 2006 in France. If we zoom in, we can see the ISS very clearly.

There is another image of ISS taken by Thierry Legault during 2009 where ISS image can be seen more clearly. These images are awesome considering that the distance between the observer and the object was about 550 km.

And ofcourse, as you saw in the movie, ISS is not the only space station, there is Chinese space station named Tiangong-1 which means “Heavenly Palace” in Chinese and was launched in 2011. Tiangong-1 is at the same orbital height as ISS. Thierry Legault imaged Tiangong just like ISS and can be seen below. Hopefully you enjoyed these pictures, thanks to Thierry Legault’s awesome photography!

Image credit: Thierry Legault | http://legault.perso.sfr.fr

Leave a Comment October 8, 2013

First LIBS Spectra From Mars!

Publishing a post after long long time, busy times! But couldn’t resist posting first LIBS (Laser Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy) Spectra from Mars! It is interesting to see Hydrogen lines at 656 nm (possibly from ice on Mars or water condensation from Mars atmosphere). Carbon line adjacent to it is doubtful and needs further analysis. I can try to write more details about it later when I get time. If anyone is interested how LIBS plasma looks in Mars environment as compared to earth, you can see it here.

Leave a Comment August 24, 2012

# IAmScience

“Magical things can happen when you enthusiastically open your mouth on the internet.” – Kevin Zelnio

Science writer and marine biologist Kevin Zelnio started the Twitter hashtag #IamScience last month, encouraging scientists to share their individual stories about their traditional or unconventional paths that brought them to where they are today. The response was overwhelming, with hundreds of tweets pouring in over just a few days.Mindy Weisberger compiled some of the tweets and added Reckless Kelly’s “Wicked Twisted Road” to create this video. If readers of this post can share their thoughts about how they got into their profession including science that would be great.

Leave a Comment February 12, 2012

Weekend Video: VDay Special- Look Into Her Pupils


Pupils? Did I mean Look into her eyes? Well the title of this post is correct. According to Bruno Laeng, Pupillometry expert from University of Oslo, we need to look closer and deeper into the pupils of individuals in order to gauge their emotional responses. Pupillometry is basically the measurement of diameter of eye’s pupils. It has been shown during past 50 years of pupillomtery that pupils respond not only to changes in light from surroundings but also to other stimuli including thoughts, emotions and mental loading. Typically, in response to strong emotions or heavy mental loading, pupils dilate which indicates increase in attention of the individual. In other words, if pupils of your loved one increase listening to your Vday proposal, its indication that she has got your attention and that’s a good sign!

Video credit: Science Friday podcast

Pupillomtery article:  Pupillometry A Window to the Preconscious? Laeng et al. | doi: 10.1177/1745691611427305 Perspectives on Psychological Science January 2012 vol. 7 no. 1 18-27

Leave a Comment February 11, 2012

Aurora 2012

While my blog was in hibernation, there was massive solar activity going on which resulted in some spectacular Aurora display on earth. Here is one breathtaking video captured by Christian Mulhauser in Norway during the week of Jan 24. Enjoy the video!

Leave a Comment February 11, 2012

Science Is Beautiful: Season 2- From New Location

Time to restart my blog now! Time to analyze and discuss numerous scientific stories, share some pictures, videos. While the web address of this blog remains same, my physical location has changed. I have moved to Purdue University at West Lafayette, Indiana where I will be  be doing ultra-fast spectroscopy to understand laser and matter interaction. This week, for the first time I operated femtosecond laser and was able to create a  plasma 🙂 Now just thinking of creative ways to use  this new scientific tool I am learning. So, Science Is Beautiful-Season 2 starts from today with pictures from Purdue University after weekend snowfall.

 

Leave a Comment January 21, 2012

Science is Scamming and Confusing America, How?

Last night’s The Daily Show was awesome as always. Take a look at the video and here is a word of caution: don’t let any scientist con you into believing in evolution or global warming or vaccination or any other “science junk”.

Leave a Comment October 27, 2011

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