Mars is approaching Earth for a 15-year close encounter on July 27. The Red Planet is now so bright that it is experiencing forms of atmospheric optics normally reserved for objects like the sun and the moon. Recently, an astronomer in Sweden watching Mars witnessed a rare green flash. Visit Spaceweather.com for a video of the phenomenon and more information about the Martian brightening.
On the heels of a new study showing that flight attendants have an elevated risk of cancer compared to the general population, Spaceweather.com and the students of "Earth to Sky Calculus" recently boarded a plane to New Zealand carrying an array of cosmic ray sensors. During their 13-hour flight across the South Pacific, the team detected secondary cosmic rays in the passenger compartment almost 40 times stronger than on the ground below. Their "haul" of radiation included a significant number of neutrons captured in portable bubble chambers. Read Spaceweather.com for the full story.
A comet that could become visible to the naked eye in August has exploded in brightness, suddenly increasing its luminosity 16-fold. Whatever happened on Comet PANSTARRS (C/2017 S3) on July 1 has given it an expanding green atmosphere almost twice the size of the planet Jupiter. Visit Spaceweather.com for pictures and more information about this approaching comet.
Password managers are a pain to set up, but they make us feel safe. Read this story and think again!
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) welcomes constructive ideas that might help solve the world's problems, grouped into four categories: LEARN, CURE, FUEL, MAKE. Contest winners in each category will go to the United Nations on March 7, 2017, to present their ideas. Learn more, read the challenges, and propose solutions at this link: SOLVE
New installation at Coyote Point in San Mateo lets visitors visualize how sea-level rise impacts bayside and coastside.
The San Francisco Chronicle "Insight" section Sunday, April 17, is loaded with goodies for anyone interested in social media, print media, Internet trolls, selfie obsessions, smartphone abuse, technology addiction, etc. Here are two of the best pieces:
Sign up here to get an email whenever the International Space Station passes overhead. Warning: Don't bother on foggy or cloudy nights.
Here's some intriguing new research on what makes smart people happier: Is it more friends or more space?
It's complicated: part religion, part politics, part astrophysics. Historian and columnist Dr. Amanda Foreman explains at the link above.
Is Caltrans paying attention?
The night of February 23-24, observers across the western half of North America witnessed a spectacular cluster of bright lights in the sky. It was the re-entry and disintegration of a Chinese rocket body. Coincidentally, a geomagnetic storm was in progress at the time and more than one photographer caught the rocket's debris cutting across curtains of Northern Lights. Visit spaceweather.com for photos and more information.