Follow this lightning storm halfway across the US to the East Coast

Watch a huge lightning storm move across the eastern USA. The huge storm caused much damage and unfortunately some loss of life for people in its path.

Seen from space, the lightning is seen as momentary flashes in the featured time-lapse video recorded last month by the Geostationary Lightning Mapper (GLM) aboard the GOES-16 satellite. The outline of North America is most evident during the day, while the bright lightning strikes are most evident at night

The video shows that much of the lightning occurred at the leading edge of the huge tail of the swirling storm. Because lightning frequently precedes a storm’s most violent impact, lightning data from GLM holds promise to help reduce the harm to humans from future storms.

Thanks, UrsaRodinia

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Couple of quick iPhotos


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1st walk, this morning, I grab a quick snap of this bunny out front. Didn’t even notice the bull snake till I went to crop and edit. Don’t see many out towards the road. We figure he’s new. Then…


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Ready to step out the door for another walk after our morning coffee break, look who’s cruising by the doorstep! Damned near came in the dog door. Still looking for a place to settle, I guess.

NASA Satellite Camera records Flashes of Light From Earth


Click to enlarge — Sun glints off stmospheric ice crystals – circled in red

❝ One million miles from Earth, a NASA camera is capturing unexpected flashes of light reflecting off our planet. The homeward-facing instrument on NOAA’s Deep Space Climate Observatory, or DSCOVR, launched in 2015, caught hundreds of these flashes over the span of a year. As keen observers from outside NASA wrote in, questioning the source of these lights, scientists deciphered the tiny cause to the big reflections: high-altitude, horizontally oriented ice crystals…

Investigating the flashes, Alexander Marshak and his colleagues found that similar reflections from our pale blue dot caught the attention of astronomer Carl Sagan in 1993. Sagan was looking at images taken by the Galileo spacecraft, which launched in 1989 to study Jupiter and its moons. During one if its gravitational-assist swings around Earth, Galileo turned its instruments on this planet and collected data. Sagan and his colleagues used that to test a key question: Whether spacecraft could detect signatures of life from afar…

But when the scientists took another took a look at the Galileo images, they saw something Sagan and his colleagues apparently missed — bright flashes of light over land as well as over water. And those flashes appeared in the EPIC images as well. As the contact listed on the website that posts all EPIC images, Marshak started getting emails from people curious about what the flashes were.

❝ Instead, he and his colleagues Tamas Varnai of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, and Alexander Kostinski of Michigan Technological University, thought of water elsewhere in the Earth system: ice particles high in the atmosphere. The scientists conducted a series of experiments, detailed in a new paper published in Geophysical Research Letters, to confirm the cause of the distant flashes…

Another feature of the EPIC data helped confirm that the flashes were from a high altitude, not simply water on the ground…”The source of the flashes is definitely not on the ground. It’s definitely ice, and most likely solar reflection off of horizontally oriented particles,” Marshak said.

Gotta love science. Though, I imagine any of the flavors of conspiracy nutball might have explanations more titillating than high altitude ice crystals.

Photos of a hurricane on Saturn from the Cassini Spacecraft

NASA’s Cassini spacecraft has survived an unprecedented trip between Saturn and its rings, and has amazing pictures to show for it.

Flight controllers regained contact with Cassini on Thursday, a day after it became the first craft to cross this hazardous region. The rings are made up of countless icy particles, any of which could have smacked Cassini. The spacecraft’s big dish antenna served as a shield as it hurtled through the narrow gap, temporarily cutting off communications….

Twenty-one more crossings are planned — about one a week — before Cassini’s fatal plunge in mid-September. The next one is Tuesday (2nd May). Some of those passages will bring Cassini even closer to the planet as well as the innermost D ring. The gap between the rings and the top of Saturn’s atmosphere is between 1,200 and 1,500 miles across (1,900 to 2,400 kilometers).

Watch for it. Stay in touch with NASA.

Yum!


Click to enlargeSteve Chao/Al Jazeera

Once the most iconic symbol of animals threatened with extinction, pandas were taken off the endangered list in 2016 by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature Surveys suggest the wild population has increased to more than 1800. But China continues to give them the highest level of protection.

Thanks, Tom

Latest NASA Night Lights Maps


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NASA scientists are releasing new global maps of Earth at night, providing the clearest yet composite view of the patterns of human settlement across our planet.

Satellite images of Earth at night — often referred to as “night lights” — have been a gee-whiz curiosity for the public and a tool for fundamental research for nearly 25 years. They have provided a broad, beautiful picture, showing how humans have shaped the planet and lit up the darkness. Produced every decade or so, such maps have spawned hundreds of pop-culture uses and dozens of economic, social science and environmental research projects…

In the years since the 2011 launch of the NASA-NOAA Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership satellite, Román and colleagues have been analyzing night lights data and developing new software and algorithms to make night lights imagery clearer, more accurate and readily available. They are now on the verge of providing daily, high-definition views of Earth at night, and are targeting the release of such data to the science community later this year.

Wow. Worth looking forward to.

Rare 1907 photos advertising the Southern Pacific Railroad show West Coast in color


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❝ Check out these rare photos to follow the “road of a thousand wonders,” along the California coast on the Southern Pacific Railroad.

❝ The…images from 1907 start in Los Angeles, and work their way up to Oregon. There are over a hundred stops along the way, including Ojai, San Luis Obispo, Santa Cruz, Santa Barbara, and many of California’s missions, including San Juan Bautista. The trip also includes Carmel-By-The-Sea, Oakland, Berkeley, and San Francisco, including images of the city’s resurrection from the 1906 earthquake.

❝ The images are from Sunset Magazine, shot for the Passenger Department of the Southern Pacific Company. The pictures of the West were meant to stimulate interest in the Rail Highway along the Pacific, joining California and Oregon, passing the spectacular Shasta, over the Siskiyous, to the Columbia River in Oregon.

Each image, which is in the style of a vintage postcard, is captioned as seen in the publication.

My kind of history. I love period photography. Still have my Italian grandfather’s wooden Eastman camera.

Put this article together with tales from the period, a legitimate contribution to our knowledge of where part of our American civilization comes from.

NASA’s Juno Probe Just Sent Us Photos of Jupiter Unlike Anything Before


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Juno Swirls

Roughly the size of a basketball court, NASA’s Juno probe departed in 2011, hurtled through space for five years and finally made itself comfortable in Jupiter’s orbit in July 2016.

Now, at about 415 million miles from Earth, it has made its fifth close flyby of the Gas Giant and the images it sent home are breathtaking

So far, they’ve discovered what Jupiter’s poles look like for the first time and are continuing to study the swirling clouds and storms covering the planet’s atmosphere (it’s thought they might be linked to complicated currents from the planet’s moon, Io)…

Traveling 129,000 miles per hour, Juno itself will never get closer than 2,700 miles from the cloud tops. Though that seems far, the data from the probe has already allowed scientists to rewrite what they thought they knew about giant planets and, possibly, the origins of our entire solar system.

No space travel available for cranky old geeks like me; so, photos like these are the next best thing. That and the creative minds of folks making movies with great CGI, nowadays.

Pic of the Day – Calistoga in the rain


Click to enlargeOm Malik

❝ I ended up in Calistoga to celebrate a friend’s birthday. I forgot my backpack at home and as a result am reduced to just one device – my phone. It is interesting to be forced to use a different, wider lens when you are used to a 50 mm lens.

❝ Made with the iPhone7Plus at the Calistoga Ranch, California. Edited with RNI Films app.

Om is living proof that journalists and geeks can both end up doing a damned good job at being human beings. Thoughtful, caring, constructive.

This is from a series of photos noted above – taken with his iPhone as an expedient. But, don’t be surprised by his skill and obvious talent. He’s done notable work with the iPhone as an exercise before.

Click this link through to the photos page of his blog. Click any of the images you like and you will move into the series that snap represents.