Archive for the ‘solar system dynamics’ Category

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The Harvest Moon is the Full Moon nearest to the September equinox, which occurs around September 22.

The UK is set to be treated to a rare occurrence of a Harvest Moon tonight.

The Moon will be about 14 per cent smaller in the sky than an average full moon, making it an especially rare “micromoon”, says the London Evening Standard.

Maine Farmers’ Almanac astronomer Joe Rao said the time it peaks will depend on the position of the moon.


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The contention here is that in the time taken for 14 lunar nodal cycles, the difference between the number of Saros eclipse cycles and lunar apsidal cycles (i.e the number of ‘beats’ of those two periods) is exactly 15.

Since 15-14 = 1, this period of 260.585 tropical years might itself be considered a cycle. It is just over 9 Inex eclipse cycles (260.5 years) of 358 synodic months each, by definition.

Although it’s hard to find references to ~260 years as a possible climate and/or planetary period, there are a few for the half period i.e. 130 years, for example here.


The Return of STEVE

Posted: September 6, 2019 by oldbrew in Electro-magnetism, solar system dynamics

Introducing ‘STEVE and the green pickets’. This summer, researchers confirmed that STEVE is not an aurora, but is instead a unique phenomenon.

Sept. 5, 2019: Sky watchers are still sorting out all the things they saw during last weekend’s Labor Day geomagnetic storm.  Upon further review, not every light in the sky was the aurora borealis. There was also STEVE:

“Look at the mauve-colored plume. That’s STEVE,” says Alan Dyer, who took the picture at the Saskatchewan Summer Star Party on Aug. 31st. “We saw STEVE two nights in a row from our area in western Canada.”

STEVE (Strong Thermal Emission Velocity Enhancement) looks like an aurora, but it is not. The phenomenon is caused by hot (3000°C) ribbons of gas flowing through Earth’s magnetosphere at speeds exceeding 6 km/s (13,000 mph). These ribbons appear during some geomagnetic storms, revealing themselves by their soft purple glow.

Earlier this year, researchers led by Toshi Nishimura of Boston University published an important paper about STEVE. Using data from NASA’s THEMIS spacecraft, they…

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Credit: JS Pailly

What a time to be alive says ScienceAlert.
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For the first time in centuries, compasses in Greenwich are about to point directly at true north: an epic coincidence of time and magnetism that hasn’t taken place for some 360 years.

This serendipitous occurrence – which is set to occur within the next fortnight – serves as a startling reminder of how Earth’s magnetic north pole is constantly wandering, unlike the fixed ‘true north’ of Earth’s geographic north pole.

The angular difference between those two different points is called magnetic declination, and while the gap might not be something ordinary people spend a great deal of time thinking about, it’s a disparity that can last for centuries at a time.

For hundreds of years now in the UK, due to Earth’s shifting magnetic north pole, declination has been negative, meaning compass needles have been pointing west of true north.

But nothing lasts forever.


Are the increased cosmic rays of solar minimum at work here? A strong possibility it seems.

August 30, 2019: You never know what you might see in the wake of a big storm. On Aug. 25th, Chinese astrophotographer Chao Shen of Shaoxing City went outside to photograph the Milky Way. A typhoon named “White Deer” had passed through the day before, and the storm clouds were parting. “I saw the stars–but that’s not all,” says Shen. “A Gigantic Jet leaped up right before my eyes!”


Gigantic Jets are lightning-like discharges that spring from the tops of thunderstorms, reaching all the way to the edge of space. They’re related to sprites, but larger and more powerful.

“Shen definitely caught a Gigantic Jet,” confirms Oscar van der Velde of the Lightning Research Group at the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya. “It looks like it may have reached as high as 90 km above the ground.”

“Gigantic Jets are much more rare than sprites,” says van der Velde. “While…

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In 2015 this post discussed long-term lunar precession from an apsidal, or anomalistic, standpoint.

We saw that all the numbers related to an exact number (339) of Metonic cycles (19 tropical years each, as discussed below).

Here we show the equivalent from a nodal, or draconic, standpoint.

Again, all the numbers relate to an exact number (337 this time) of Metonic cycles.


More electromagnetic goings-on near Earth’s outer fringes.

August 9, 2019: Astronauts are surrounded by danger: hard vacuum, solar flares, cosmic rays. Researchers from UCLA have just added a new item to the list. Earth itself.

“A natural particle accelerator only 40,000 miles above Earth’s surface is producing ‘killer electrons’ moving close to the speed of light,” says Terry Liu, a newly-minted PhD who studied the phenomenon as part of his thesis with UCLA Prof. Vassilis Angelopoulos.

This means that astronauts leaving Earth for Mars could be peppered by radiation coming at them from behind–from the direction of their own home planet.


NASA’s THEMIS spacecraft ran across the particles in 2008 not far from the place where the solar wind slams into Earth’s magnetic field. Researchers have long known that shock waves at that location could accelerate particles to high energies–but not this high. The particles coming out of the Earth-solar wind interface have energies up to 100,000…

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Sunspots [image credit: NASA]

This looks timely as predictions of the possibly imminent – or not – start of solar cycle 25 jockey for position, so to speak. Is there a new and better method here?

In a pair of new papers, scientists paint a picture of how solar cycles suddenly die, potentially causing tsunamis of plasma to race through the Sun’s interior and trigger the birth of the next sunspot cycle only a few short weeks later, reports EurekAlert.

The new findings provide insight into the mysterious timing of sunspot cycles, which are marked by the waxing and waning of sunspot activity on the solar surface.

While scientists have long known that these cycles last approximately 11 years, predicting when one cycle ends and the next begins has been challenging to pin down with any accuracy. The new research could change that.

In one of the studies, which relies on nearly 140 years of solar observations from the ground and space, the scientists are able to identify “terminator” events that clearly mark the end of a sunspot cycle.


Plus: how big will the bite of the ongoing solar minimum be, compared to the last one? We’re due to find out sometime soon.

July 16, 2019: Note to astronauts: 2019 is not a good year to fly into deep space. In fact, it’s shaping up to be one of the worst of the Space Age.

The reason is, the solar cycle. One of the deepest Solar Minima of the past century is underway now. As the sun’s magnetic field weakens, cosmic rays from deep space are flooding into the solar system, posing potential health risks to astronauts.

NASA is monitoring the situation with a radiation sensor in lunar orbit. The Cosmic Ray Telescope for the Effects of Radiation (CRaTER) has been circling the Moon on NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft since 2009. Researchers have just published a paper in the journal Space Weather describing CRaTER’s latest findings.

lroAbove: An artist’s concept of Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter.

“The overall decrease in solar activity in this period has led to an increased flux of…

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An important new solar paper by Prof Valentina Zharkova and co-authors S. J. Shepherd, S. I. Zharkov & E. Popova  published in ‘Nature’ has incorporated the solar-planetary theory we’ve been researching and advancing here at the talkshop over the last decade. As well as further developing her previous double dynamo theory which now accounts for the last several millennium’s solar grand minima and maxima, she includes discussion of Fairbridge, Mackey, Shirley, Charvatova and Abreu et al’s work. Central to the new hypothesis is the motion of the Sun around the barycentre of the solar system, described as the Solar Inertial Motion [SIM].

Left plot: the example of SIM trajectories of the Sun about the barycenter calculated from 1950 until 210034. Right plot: the cone of expanding SIM orbits of the Sun35 with the top showing 2D orbit projections similar to the left plot. Here there are three complete SIM orbits of the Sun, each of which takes about 179 years. Each solar orbit consists of about eight, 22-year solar cycles35. The total time span is, therefore, three 179-year solar cycles31, or about 600 years. Source: Adapted from Mackey35. Reproduced with permission from the Coastal Education and Research Foundation, Inc

Following my discussion with her at dinner following her talk in London last year, Zharkova now agrees with us that the SIM induced by planetary motion affects sunspot production and solar activity levels.


Something of a mystery developing here. Open season for theories.

June 11, 2019: On June 8th and 9th, many people who have never previously heard of “noctilucent clouds” (NLCs) found themselves eagerly taking pictures of them–from moving cars, through city lights, using cell phones and iPads. “I have never seen clouds like this before!” says Tucker Shannon, who took this picture from Corvallis, Oregon:

“I heard that they may have been seeded by meteoroids,” says Shannon.

That’s correct. NLCs are Earth’s highest clouds. Seeded by meteoroids, they float at the edge of space more than 80 km above the planet’s surface. The clouds are very cold and filled with tiny ice crystals. When sunbeams hit those crystals, they glow electric-blue.

Noctilucent clouds used to be a polar phenomenon. In recent years, however, researchers have noticed their electric-blue forms creeping south. Is it climate change? Or the solar cycle? No one knows for sure.

This past weekend…

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From the ‘observing tips’: ‘Look west 30 to 60 minutes after sunset when the sun has dipped below the horizon. If you see luminous blue-white tendrils spreading across the sky, you may have spotted a noctilucent cloud.’

May 31, 2019: A huge blue cloud of frosted meteor smoke is pinwheeling around the Arctic Circle. NASA’s AIM spacecraft spotted its formation on May 20th, and it has since circled the North Pole one and a half times, expanding in size more than 200-fold.

“These are noctilucent clouds,” says Cora Randall of the AIM science team at the University of Colorado. “And they are going strong.”


Noctilucent clouds (NLCs) in May are nothing unusual. They form every year around this time when the first wisps of summertime water vapor rise to the top of Earth’s atmosphere. Molecules of H2O adhere to specks of meteor smoke, forming ice crystals 80 km above Earth’s surface. When sunbeams hit those crystals, they glow electric-blue.

But these NLCs are different. They’re unusually strong and congregated in a coherent spinning mass, instead of spreading as usual all across the polar cap.


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Main solar system planets [image credit: Wikipedia]

No s**t Sherlock! Numerous independent researchers, some featured at the Talkshop, have been working along such lines for years with little apparent recognition and even a certain amount of negative reaction (like this), let’s say.

H/T Miles Mathis

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HZDR press release of May 27, 2019: New study corroborates the influence of planetary tidal forces on solar activity.

One of the big questions in solar physics is why the Sun’s activity follows a regular cycle of 11 years. Researchers from the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR), an independent German research institute, now present new findings, indicating that the tidal forces of Venus, Earth and Jupiter influence the solar magnetic field, thus governing the solar cycle.


Jupiter – the dominant planet in the solar system

The aim here is to show a Lucas number based pattern in five rows of synodic data, then add in a note on Mercury as well.

There’s also a strong Fibonacci number element to this, as shown below.

The results can be linked back to earlier posts on planetary harmonics involving the Lucas and Fibonacci series (use ‘search this site’ box on our home page).


Get ready: “In June 2019 the Earth will approach within [0.06 AU or 9 million km] of the center of the Taurid swarm, its closest post-perihelion encounter with Earth since 1975”. Is there a Tunguska link?

May 24, 2019: In November 2032, Earth will pass through the Taurid Swarm, a cloud of debris from Comet 2P/Encke that makes brilliant fireballs when its gravelly particles occasionally hit Earth’s atmosphere. Previous encounters with the Swarm in 2005 and 2015 produced showers of bright meteors observed around the world; in 1975 the Swarm contacted the Moon, making Apollo seismic sensors ring with evidence of objects hitting the lunar surface. If forecasters are correct, we’re in for similar activity 13 years from now.

Some researchers are beginning to wonder if there might be more to the Taurid Swarm than the pebble-sized particles that make fireballs–something, say, that could level a forest. On June 30, 1908, a forest in Siberia did fall down when a 100-meter object fell out of the sky and exploded just above the Tunguska River. Back-tracking the trajectory of the impactor suggests it may have come from…

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View from the Moon [credit: NASA]

Moons don’t generally ‘shrink’, so what’s going on here? The abstract of the research paper speaks of compressional stresses, but the only potential source of compression would seem to be the Earth. It’s known that ‘the crust on the far side is a lot thicker than it is on the near side’, as discussed here.

The moon is still tectonically active, like Earth, generating moonquakes as our planet creates earthquakes, a new study based on Apollo mission data found.

These moonquakes likely happen because the moon is quivering as it shrinks, researchers added.

On Earth, tectonic activity, such as earthquakes and volcanism, results from shuffling of the crust’s tectonic plates driven by the churning of the planet’s molten interior, says Charles Quoi at

However, the moon is much smaller than Earth and therefore largely cooled off long ago, so one might not expect much, if any, tectonic activity.


Continuing our recent series of posts, with Uranus-Neptune conjunction data an obvious starting point for the table is where the difference between the number of Neptune orbits and U-N synods is 1.

647 U-N takes a long time (~110,900 years) but the accuracy of the whole number matches is very high.

Lucas no. (7 here) is fixed, and Fibonacci nos. follow the correct sequence (given their start no.).
Full Fib. series starts: 0,1,1,2,3,5,8,13,21…etc.
Multiplier: 0,1,1,2,3
Addition: 1,1,2,3,5

The Neptune orbits are multiples of 26 with the same Fibonacci adjustment:
Add 0,1,1,2,3 to the Neptune column numbers to get an exact multiple of 26 (which will be the pattern number in the last column).


Lunar evections and the Saros cycle

Posted: May 7, 2019 by oldbrew in Maths, moon, solar system dynamics

Credit: Matthew Zimmerman @ English Wikipedia

The Saros cycle can be used to predict eclipses of the Sun and Moon, and is usually defined as 223 lunar synodic months, or about 11 days over 18 years.

But there are a few other lunar-related periods which can used to arrive at 223.

One Saros cycle can be said to be the difference between the number of:
— anomalistic months and full moon cycles (239 – 16)
— draconic months and draconic years (242 – 19)
— tropical months and tropical years (241 – 18)

That may be fairly well known, but then there are the lunar evections.


Distances not to scale.

This is an easy data table to interpret.

The Uranus orbits are all Fibonacci numbers, and the synodic conjunctions are all a 3* multiple of Fibonacci numbers.
[Fibonacci series starts: 0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89, 144, …etc.]

In addition, the difference between the two is always a Lucas number. And that’s it for Saturn-Uranus, which would make for a very short blog post.

But it’s possible to go further.


There’s a strong link between the trigon period and the solar inertial motion cycle (or Jose cycle) which is 3 trigons or 179 years.

See also: The Sixty-Year Climate Cycle


Could Kepler’s chart contain the key to climate cycles?

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