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COLLAPSE OF THE THERMOSPHERE: Researchers
are puzzling over a sharper-than-expected collapse of Earth's
upper atmosphere during the deep solar minimum of 2008-09.
"Something is going on that we do not understand,"
says John Emmert of the Naval Research Lab, lead author of
a paper announcing the finding. Get the full
story from Science@NASA.
RAINBOWS: For the past couple of months,
sky watchers above the Arctic Circle say they've had trouble
seeing the Northern Lights. What's the problem? Apparently,
rainbows are getting in the way:
"This bright and beautiful rainbow appeared last night
around 00:15 am," says photographer Therese van Nieuwenhoven
of Laukvik, Norway. "It was caused by the midnight sun
shining into a rain shower."
Normally, midnight is the time for the aurora borealis, but
with the Arctic summer sun on one side of the sky and rainbows
on the other, Northern Lights don't stand a chance. This is
how it will be until the sun sets in August.
Next week, on July 22nd, a solar wind stream is due to hit
Earth and possibly spark a geomagnetic storm. Arctic sky watchers
should be alert for auroras ... somewhere over
AT VENUS POINT: On July 11th, Canadian astronomer
Alan Dyer was in Tahiti to witness a total eclipse of the
sun. If only that
cloud hadn't moved in at precisely the moment of totality...!
He didn't leave the South Pacific empty-handed, however. "On
the evening of the eclipse," he says, "I was able
to photograph Venus from Venus Point."
"Venus Point is where Capt. James Cook
made his famous
observations of the transit of Venus in 1769, so it is
a historic spot for astronomy," explains Dyer. "This
vertical shot shows all four evening planets, Mercury,
Venus, Mars and Saturn; together they define the plane of
the solar system, which in the tropics rises almost perpendicular
from the horizon. It was a beautiful scene."
Apparently, missing an eclipse isn't so bad
... when you miss it in the South Pacific. Browse the
gallery for more views.
Eclipse Photo Gallery
Pacific Eclipse] [animated