What’s happened to the sky? Aurora! Captured in 2015, this aurora was noted by Icelanders for its great brightness and quick development. The aurora resulted from a solar storm, with high energy particles bursting out from the Sun and through a crack in Earth’s protective magnetosphere a few days later. Although a spiral pattern can be discerned, creative humans might imagine the complex glow as an atmospheric apparition of any number of common icons. In the foreground of the featured image is the Ölfusá River while the lights illuminate a bridge in Selfoss City. Just beyond the low clouds is a nearly full Moon. The liveliness of the Sun – and likely the resulting auroras on Earth – is slowly increasing as the Sun emerges from a Solar minimum, a historically quiet period in its 11-year cycle.
What’s happening to this cloud? Ice crystals in a distant cirrus cloud are acting like little floating prisms. Known informally as a fire rainbow for its flame-like appearance, a circumhorizon arc appears parallel to the horizon. For a circumhorizontal arc to be visible, the Sun must be at least 58 degrees high in a sky where cirrus clouds present below – in this case cirrus fibrates. The numerous, flat, hexagonal ice-crystals that compose the cirrus cloud must be aligned horizontally to properly refract sunlight in a collectively similar manner. Therefore, circumhorizontal arcs are somewhat unusual to see. The featured fire rainbow was photographed earlier this month near North Fork Mountain in West Virginia, USA.
English Archeologist Howard Carter entering King Tutankhamen’s tomb (-14th c.) in Thebes, Egypt, February, 16, 1923.
A 2,500-year-old mummy of a man, also known as the Horseman, with an elaborate tattoo of an elk covering his right shoulder. He was discovered in 1995 in a Pazyryk burial mound in Siberia’s Altai Mountains, Russia.
The mass murder-suicide of 909 followers of the People’s Temple cult of Jim Jones, Jonestown Guyana, 1978.
2500-year-old jar full of eggs, unearthed in Jiangsu in eastern China. Spring and Autumn period, 771-476 BC.
Today the Sun reaches its northernmost point in planet Earth’s sky. Called a solstice, many cultures mark this date as a change of seasons – from spring to summer in Earth’s Northern Hemisphere and from fall to winter in Earth’s Southern Hemisphere. Precisely, the single time of solstice occurs today for some parts of the world, but tomorrow for other regions. The featured image was taken during the week of the 2008 summer solstice at Stonehenge in United Kingdom, and captures a picturesque sunrise involving fog, trees, clouds, stones placed about 4,500 years ago, and a 4.5 billion year old large glowing orb. Even given the precession of the Earth’s rotational axis over the millennia, the Sun continues to rise over Stonehenge in an astronomically significant way.