Space

Inversion layer creates picture that blurs the line between Earth and Space

A wonderfully beautiful picture taken on the outskirts of the Atacma Desert shows a Geminids meteor falling in a perfectly dark sky above the apparently daylight landscape surrounding the La Silla Observatory (Chile). The picture, appearing to show a night sky in the daytime, is difficult to believe is not two separate images. Alas, the image’s unusual characteristic is possible because of an "inversion layer" located slightly above the 7,900 foot observatory. An “inversion” is an unusual deviation from the normal atmospheric properties that vary with altitude. Normally the air within the lower atmosphere (called the troposphere) near the surface of the Earth is warmer than the air above it. This occurs because the lower atmosphere is heated from solar radiation striking the Earth’s surface.…
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Plants

Jupiter’s Great Red Spot is shrinking faster than ever before

In any other circumstance, a huge, red, festering blemish would be a bad thing but not for the planet Jupiter. Jupiter’s Great Red Spot has been a defining characteristic of the planet since man began looking at the stars through bamboo shoots. But that may be about to change. NASA says that Jupiter’s Great Red Spot is shrinking in size faster than ever and could disappear altogether within 20 years. Jupiter’s Great Red Spot is an Earth-sized storm raging on the gas giant’s surface. Scientists have known about the red spot since at least 1831 (and possibly as early as 1665). The storm rotates differently than the planet’s atmosphere and is believed to have traveled around the planet several times during its recorded history. For…
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