Archive for the ‘solar system dynamics’ Category

The question then is: how much life will it come to, compared to recent cycles?
Cycle 25 observations in SDO HMI imagery (to October 31st, 2019)

Nov. 1, 2019: Breaking a string of 28 spotless days, a new sunspot (AR2750) is emerging in the sun’s southern hemisphere–and it’s a member of the next solar cycle. A picture of the sunspot is inset in this magnetic map of the sun’s surface from NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory:


How do we know AR2750 belongs to the next solar cycle? Its magnetic polarity tells us so. Southern sunspots from old Solar Cycle 24 have a -/+ polarity. This sunspot is the opposite: +/-. According to Hale’s Law, sunspots switch polarities from one solar cycle to the next. AR2750 is therefore a member of Solar Cycle 25.

Shortlived sunspots belonging to Solar Cycle 25 have already been reported on Dec. 20, 2016; April 8, 2018; Nov. 17, 2018; May 28, 2019; July 1, 2019; and July 8, 2019. The one on July 8, 2019, was significant because it lasted long…

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As usual the ‘runaway greenhouse effect’ theory rears its ugly head, and the event that supposedly led to it ‘forced massive amounts of CO² into the atmosphere’. But the huge atmospheric pressure of Venus (> 90 times that of Earth’s surface), combined with its being nearer to the Sun than Earth, can adequately explain the observed temperatures.

A new study on the volcanic highlands of Venus casts doubt on whether the planet ever had oceans, reports Universe Today.
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Venus is often referred to as “Earth’s sister planet“, owing to the number of similarities between them.

Like Earth, Venus is a terrestrial (aka. rocky) planet and it resides with our Sun’s Circumstellar Habitable Zone (CHZ). And for some time, scientists have theorized that billions of years ago, Venus had oceans on its surface and was habitable – aka. not the hot and hellish place it is today.

However, after examining radar data on the Ovda Fluctus lava flow, a team of scientists at the Lunar and Planetary Institute concluded that the highlands on Venus are likely to be composed of basaltic lava rock instead of granite.

This effectively punches a hole in the main argument for Venus having oceans in the past, which is that the Ovda Regio highlands plateau formed in the presence of water.


What, if anything, might this mean for the coming Northern Hemisphere winter?

Oct. 3, 2019: Solar Minimum is underway, and it’s a deep one. Sunspot counts suggest it is one of the deepest minima of the past century. The sun’s magnetic field has become weak, allowing extra cosmic rays into the solar system. Neutron monitors at the Sodankyla Geophysical Observatory in Oulu, Finland, show that cosmic rays are percentage points away from a Space Age record:


Researchers at the Sodankyla Geophysical Observatory have been monitoring cosmic rays since 1964. When cosmic rays hit Earth’s atmosphere, they produce a spray of secondary particles that rain down on Earth’s surface. Among these particles are neutrons. Detectors in Oulu count neutrons as a proxy for cosmic rays.

As the top panel shows, cosmic rays naturally wax and wane with the 11-year solar cycle. During Solar Maximum cosmic rays are weak; during Solar Minimum they are strong. The Space Age record for cosmic rays was set…

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There are many reasons NASA is pursuing the Artemis mission to land astronauts on the moon by 2024: It’s a crucial way to study the moon itself and to pave a safe path to Mars, says

But it’s also a great place to learn more about protecting Earth, which is just one part of the larger Sun-Earth system.

Heliophysicists—scientists who study the Sun and its influence on Earth—will also be sending up their own NASA missions as part of Artemis. Their goal is to better understand the complex space environment surrounding our planet, much of which is driven by our Sun.


H/T The Global Warming Policy Forum (GWPF).

An interview with Professor Valentina Zharkova on the effect of solar activity on terrestrial climate – from Conversations That Matter, with Stuart McNish.

The sun is going through a stage known as a solar or Maunder Minimum. This is where the solar activity that ignites solar flares or sun spots has decreased.

It’s a normal cycle and one that has been linked to the mini ice age that lasted more than 50 years starting in the mid-1600s.


Thanks to Ian Wilson for introducing us to his new paper, which is part three of the planned four-part series. The paper can be downloaded from The General Science Journal here. Abstract below.


The best way to study the changes in the climate “forcings” that impact the Earth’s mean atmospheric temperature is to look at the first difference of the time series of the world-mean temperature, rather than the time series itself.

Therefore, if the Perigean New/Full Moon cycles were to act as a forcing upon the Earth’s atmospheric temperature, you would expect to see the natural periodicities of this tidal forcing clearly imprinted upon the time rate of change of the world’s mean temperature.

Using both the adopted mean orbital periods of the Moon, as well as calculated algorithms based upon published ephemerides, this paper shows that the Perigean New/Full moon tidal cycles exhibit two dominant periodicities on decadal time scales.


Solar wind and Earth [credit: NASA]

H/T Tallbloke

This 2017 Chinese study is here.

Below is the Summary — obviously the full info and graphics can be viewed via the link.
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Many studies presented that solar variability does play a significant role in affecting the Earth’s climate change. Almost all of previous studies focused on the effects of solar total irradiation energy.

As the second major source, the solar wind energy flux exhibits more significant long-term variations, but its effect has been rarely concerned. Although the energy content of solar wind energy flux is of 4-5 orders lower than that of irradiation energy, its long-term variation is much more significant.


The predicted ninth planet has so far proved elusive, with searches of 50 per cent of the sky in the range where it ‘should’ be having turned up nothing. But planetary theorists Mike Brown and Konstantin Batygin insist the evidence shows they are on the right track. Others talk of broken glass and fingerprints – shades of Sherlock Holmes.

Beyond Neptune, a handful of small worlds are moving in harmony.

Astronomers think they might be dancing to the tune of a third world lurking in the darkness, one that’s four times bigger than Earth and significant enough to be named our Solar System’s ninth planet.

Now they think they know exactly where to look for it, says Science Focus.


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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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