Archive for the ‘solar system dynamics’ Category

Image credit: Tallbloke

A few days ago I tweeted this comment above some remarkable video of the Three Gorges Dam bypass sluices.

Among other people, this was picked up by Willis, the warmist at WUWT, who used it as an opportunity to attack the reality of the Sun-climate connection:


Noctilucent Clouds over London

Posted: June 24, 2020 by oldbrew in Clouds, solar system dynamics

This phenomenon seems to be flourishing during solar minimum.

June 23, 2020: On June 21st, something rare and magical happened in London. The skies of the great city filled with noctilucent clouds (NLCs). Phil Halper noticed the display, grabbed a camera, and raced from one landmark to another, hurriedly recording pictures like this:


“Even the bright lights of the London Eye on the river Thames couldn’t drown out the display,” says Halper. “These were the most spectacular NLCs I’ve ever seen.”

If NLCs look alien–that’s because they are. The clouds are seeded by meteoroids. They form every year around this time when summertime wisps of water vapor rise up to the mesosphere, allowing water to crystallize around specks of meteor smoke.

Usually you have to be under a dark sky at high latitudes to see these rare clouds–but 2020 is not usual. Record-cold temperatures in the mesosphere are boosting NLCs, brightening them enough to see from places…

View original post 245 more words

From looking at the 30 day Wolf number and NOAA sunspot number it looks like Solar Minimum could have been in December, 2019 but possibly as late as mid-March this year. 

 Coincidentally, there are peaks in barycentric solar torque (dL/dt, where L denotes the Sun’s angular momentum, ref on March 19 and April 24, 2020: 


The orbit of Triton (red) is opposite in direction and tilted −23° compared to a typical moon’s orbit (green) in the plane of Neptune’s equator [image credit: Wikipedia]

Triton orbits the ‘wrong’ way round Neptune, is far larger than all the other Neptunian moons, and has a high tilt angle, among other peculiar traits. In short, it has some explaining to do.
– – –
When NASA’s Voyager 2 spacecraft flew by Neptune’s strange moon Triton three decades ago, it wrote a planetary science cliffhanger, says

Voyager 2 is the only spacecraft ever to have flown past Neptune, and it left a lot of unanswered questions.

The views were as stunning as they were puzzling, revealing massive, dark plumes of icy material spraying out from Triton‘s surface. But how?

Images showed that the icy landscape was young and had been resurfaced over and over with fresh material. But what material, and from where?

How could an ancient moon six times farther from the Sun than Jupiter still be active? Is there something in its interior that is still warm enough to drive this activity?


This is easily shown from the 74 Jupiter-Saturn conjunctions in the period:
1 J-S = 19.865036 sidereal years = 19.865036*365.25636 days = 7255.8307
(7255.8307*74) / 365.259636 (anomalistic year) = 1469.99945 (1470)

So Earth reaches its perihelion with the Sun exactly 1470 times per 74 J-S.

Both numbers are even, so why is the Dansgaard-Oeschger event not at half the period?
The short answer is: Neptune.


Before the last time I had to dive deeply into politics to defend the EU referendum result, I had an email conversation with Roy Spencer in an attempt to resolve the conflict between physicists like himself, who believe the radiative greenhouse theory is correct, but it’s effect small, and physicists like Ned Nikolov, who contend that the theory is fundamentally incorrect.

After a couple of to and fro emails I sent this response in Feb 2019, to which I never received a reply. It’s time we got this discussion back out in the open, because Boris’ green reset #netzero plan for the UK post Brexit and post pandemic is set to ruin our economy and cause untold suffering, deprivation, and death.

the lukewarmers have utterly failed to convince the fanatics that although they think their theory is correct (it isn’t, but that’s their misguided opinion), they’ve overestimated the magnitude of the effect.

It’s time they stopped supporting the fanatics by deploying false arguments against better theory which will exonerate CO2 and move the debate away from ridiculous and expensive ‘mitigation’, and forward to adaption to the effects of natural climatic change.


During a total solar eclipse, the Sun’s corona and prominences are visible to the naked eye [image credit: Luc Viatour / ]

There’s an interesting time-series animation of the solar corona here. Clear differences in the corona at solar minimum compared to maximum were observed by the globetrotting researchers.
– – –
While the world has been dealing with the coronavirus pandemic, researchers at the University of Hawaiʻi Institute for Astronomy (IfA) have been hard at work studying the solar corona, the outermost atmosphere of the sun which expands into interplanetary space, reports

This stream of charged particles radiating from the surface of the sun is called the solar wind and expands to fill the entire solar system.

The properties of the solar corona are a consequence of the sun’s complex magnetic field, which is produced in the solar interior and extends outward.

A new study by IfA graduate student Benjamin Boe, published Wednesday, June 3rd in the Astrophysical Journal, used total solar eclipse observations to measure the shape of the coronal magnetic field with higher spatial resolution and over a larger area than ever before.


Credit: Wikipedia

Time for another Tunguska meteor theory.
– – –
When a meteor zooms toward Earth at 45,000 mph with the strength 10-15 megatons of TNT—185 times more energy than the Hiroshima atomic bomb—it could possibly take out the entire planet, says Syfy.

If something like that doesn’t scream total annihilation, it’s hard to say what does, except this time it just missed.

Scorched earth and flattened trees were all that was left of the mysterious object after it passed dangerously close to the Tunguska region of Siberia in 1908.

Theories have ranged from a black hole colliding with Earth to a clash of matter and antimatter to an alien spaceship crash-landing. An eyewitness even swore the sky was being ripped in two. But why no crater? No debris?


Interesting: ‘Over the last 200 years, the globally averaged magnetic field has lost around 9% of its strength, with the South Atlantic Anomaly leading the way.’

May 26, 2020: New data from Europe’s Swarm satellites show something strange is afoot in Earth’s magnetic field. The South Atlantic Anomaly might be splitting in two. “A new, eastern minimum of the South Atlantic Anomaly has appeared over the last decade,” says Jürgen Matzka, from the German Research Center for Geosciences. “In recent years it has been developing vigorously.”

splash1Above: Development of the South Atlantic Anomaly from 2014 to 2020. Credit: ESA/Swarm. [more] The South Atlantic Anomaly is a weak spot in Earth’s magnetic field centered roughly on the Atlantic side of South America. Discovered in 1958, it has been growing and shifting for decades. The latest data from Swarm show a new weak spot forming just off the southern tip of Africa.

“We are very lucky to have the Swarm satellites in orbit to investigate this development,” says Matzka.

Launched in November 2013, Swarm is a…

View original post 298 more words

It now seems all planetary bodies can have magnetospheres, whether or not they have a significant magnetic field. This would also help to explain why Venus, with hardly any ‘protective’ magnetic field, has a much thicker atmosphere than Earth. Wikipedia might need an update.
– – –
Five years after NASA’s MAVEN spacecraft entered into orbit around Mars, data from the mission has led to the creation of a map of electric current systems in the Martian atmosphere, reports

“These currents play a fundamental role in the atmospheric loss that transformed Mars from a world that could have supported life into an inhospitable desert,” said experimental physicist Robin Ramstad of the University of Colorado, Boulder.

“We are now currently working on using the currents to determine the precise amount of energy that is drawn from the solar wind and powers atmospheric escape.” Ramstad is lead author of a paper on this research published May 25 in Nature Astronomy.


Credit: NASA

Looks like game over for the Planet Nine idea. Unavoidable observational biases may be at least partly to blame.
– – –
Planet Nine is a theoretical, undiscovered giant planet in the mysterious far reaches of our solar system, says The Conversation (via

The presence of Planet Nine has been hypothesized to explain everything from the tilt of the sun’s spin axis to the apparent clustering in the orbits of small, icy asteroids beyond Neptune.

But does Planet Nine actually exist?


Credit: NASA

This BBC link includes a video which shows the weakening of the magnetic field over the last 400 years (under ‘Magnetic flip’ sub-heading).
– – –
In an area stretching from Africa to South America, Earth’s magnetic field is gradually weakening, says

This strange behaviour has geophysicists puzzled and is causing technical disturbances in satellites orbiting Earth.

Scientists are using data from ESA’s Swarm constellation to improve our understanding of this area known as the ‘South Atlantic Anomaly.’


Now believed to be of similar intensity to the more famous Carrington event of 1859.

May 12, 2020: 99 years ago this week, people around the world woke up to some unusual headlines.

“Telegraph Service Prostrated, Comet Not to Blame” — declared the Los Angeles Times on May 15, 1921. “Electrical Disturbance is ‘Worst Ever Known'” — reported the Chicago Daily Tribune. “Sunspot credited with Rail Tie-up” — deadpanned the New York Times.


They didn’t know it at the time, but those newspapers were covering the biggest solar storm of the 20th Century. Nothing quite like it has happened since.

It began on May 12, 1921 when giant sunspot AR1842, crossing the sun during the declining phase of Solar Cycle 15, began to flare. One explosion after another hurled coronal mass ejections (CMEs) directly toward Earth. For the next 3 days, CMEs rocked Earth’s magnetic field. Scientists around the world were surprised when their magnetometers suddenly went offscale, pens in strip chart recorders pegged uselessly…

View original post 607 more words

Saturn’s hexagon

The ever-mysterious hexagon goes under the microscope, or telescope at least.

A rich variety of meteorological phenomena takes place in the extensive hydrogen atmosphere of Saturn, a world about 10 times the size of the Earth.

They help us to better understand similar features in the Earth’s atmosphere, says

Among Saturn’s atmospheric phenomena is the well-known “hexagon,” an amazing wave structure that surrounds the planet’s polar region.


The Sun’s 11 year cycle is the most well known among many others we’ll cover in this series.

Now we’ve entered the minimum between solar cycles 24 and 25, this seems like a good moment to recap what we’ve discovered about the Sun and the planetary system that revolves around it here on the Talkshop during the last decade. The idea that the Sun’s activity cycles were somehow linked to the motion of the planets didn’t begin here of course. In fact, the idea goes all the way back to Rudolf Wolf, the Swiss astronomer who in the 1800s collated the old, and continued adding new sunspot observations. He was convinced that the orbit of Jupiter modulated sunspot numbers.

Wolf was an admirer of the work of Heinrich Schwabe, who was the first to discover an approximately decadal cyclic variation in sunspot numbers. Wolf refined and extended the observations and found that while some solar cycles were a little over ten years long, others were much closer to Jupiter’s orbital period of just under twelve years. The long term average was found to be around 11.1 years.


Image credit: NASA-ISS

Dust storms are common in the region, and sometimes bear resemblance to weather events on Mars, according to NASA.
– – –
A surging dust storm and trailing dust cloud captured an astronaut’s attention as the International Space Station (ISS) was passing over South America, says NASA’s Earth Observatory.

Dust storms are common in Patagonia and familiar for people in Comodoro Rivadavia, a coastal city in southern Argentina.

The primary source of dust is Lago Colhué Huapí, a shallow lake adjacent to the much deeper Lago Musters.


Image credit:

We’re told: ‘They refer to what they’ve found as ANTS, for Active Nearside Tectonic System’, which is ‘a mysterious system of tectonic features (ridges and faults) on the lunar nearside, unrelated to both lava-filled basins and other young faults that crisscross the highlands.’ Tectonic activity on one side only sounds a bit unlikely somehow, but what about tidal disturbance from Earth? We know it works the other way round: the Moon causes tides on Earth. Of course the Moon is tidally locked to Earth, hence the term ‘nearside’.
– – –
Researchers have discovered a system of ridges spread across the nearside of the Moon topped with freshly exposed boulders, reports

The ridges could be evidence of active lunar tectonic processes, the researchers say, possibly the echo of a long-ago impact that nearly tore the Moon apart.

“There’s this assumption that the Moon is long dead, but we keep finding that that’s not the case,” said Peter Schultz, a professor in Brown University’s Department of Earth, Environmental and Planetary Sciences and co-author of the research, which is published in the journal Geology.

“From this paper it appears that the Moon may still be creaking and cracking—potentially in the present day—and we can see the evidence on these ridges.”


Two Solar Cycles Active at Once

Posted: April 28, 2020 by oldbrew in Cycles, solar system dynamics
Tags: ,

Cycle 25 preparing to topple Cycle 24.

April 27, 2020: Today, there are two sunspots in the sun’s southern hemisphere. Their magnetic polarity reveals something interesting: They come from different solar cycles. Take a look at this magnetic map of the sun’s surface (with sunspots inset) from NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory:


One sunspot (AR2760) belongs to old Solar Cycle 24, while the other (AR2761) belongs to new Solar Cycle 25. We know this because of Hale’s polarity law. AR2760 is +/- while AR2761 is -/+, reversed signs that mark them as belonging to different cycles.

This is actually normal. Solar cycles always overlap at their boundaries, sprinkling Solar Minimum with a mixture of old- and new-cycle sunspots. Sometimes, like today, they pop up simultaneously. We might see more such combinations in the months ahead as we slowly grind our way through one of the deepest Solar Minima in a century.

The simultaneous appearance of two solar…

View original post 67 more words

Possible link between cosmic rays and ‘sprites’ as Earth experiences the solar minimum.

April 23, 2020: A series of unusually severe spring storms parading across the southeastern USA has residents taking shelter from golf-ball sized hail and dangerous tornadoes. High above the maelstrom, sprites are dancing. Paul M. Smith of Edmond, Oklahoma, captured these specimens on April 22nd.

“There were tornado warnings and very large hail throughout the night,” says Smith. “I photographed the sprites through a clearing around midnight.”

Sprites are a form of electricity in powerful storm clouds. While regular lightning lances down, sprites leap up. They can reach all the way to the edge of space 90 km or more above Earth’s surface. Spring thunderstorms often produce the year’s first big sprites, and the sightings continue through late summer.

“My camera was pointed toward Oklahoma City,” says Smith, “and the sprites were about 150 miles away.” This radar weather map shows shows the observing geometry:

When observing sprites, this kind…

View original post 155 more words


Super-rotation of its thick atmosphere, that is. The researchers believe their findings could also be a model for tidally-locked exoplanets with atmospheres.

An international research team led by Takeshi Horinouchi of Hokkaido University has revealed that this ‘super-rotation’ is maintained near the equator by atmospheric tidal waves formed from solar heating on the planet’s dayside and cooling on its nightside.

Closer to the poles, however, atmospheric turbulence and other kinds of waves have a more pronounced effect. The study was published online in Science on April 23.

Venus rotates very slowly, taking 243 Earth days to rotate once around its axis. Despite this very slow rotation, Venus’ atmosphere rotates westward 60 times faster than its planetary rotation.

This super-rotation increases with altitude, taking only four Earth days to circulate around the entire planet towards the top of the cloud cover. The fast-moving atmosphere transports heat from the planet’s dayside to nightside, reducing the temperature differences between the two hemispheres.

“Since the super-rotation was discovered in the 1960s, however, the mechanism behind its forming and maintenance has been a long-standing mystery,” says Horinouchi.