Solar System: Things to Know This Week

It’s the time of year for summer break, swimming, and oh, yes storms. June 1 marks the beginning of hurricane season on the Atlantic coast, but we’re not alone. Our neighboring planets have seen their fair share of volatile weather, too (like the Cassini spacecraft’s view of the unique six-sided jet stream at Saturn’s north pole known as “the hexagon”). 

This week, we present 10 of the solar system’s greatest storms.

1. Jupiter’s Great Red Spot

With tumultuous winds peaking at 400 mph, the Great Red Spot has been swirling wildly over Jupiter’s skies for at least 150 years and possibly much longer. People saw a big spot on Jupiter as early as the 1600s when they started stargazing through telescopes, though it’s unclear whether they were looking at a different storm. Today, scientists know the Great Red Spot has been there for a while, but what causes its swirl of reddish hues remains to be discovered. More >

2. Jupiter’s Little Red Spot

Despite its unofficial name, the Little Red Spot is about as wide as Earth. The storm reached its current size when three smaller spots collided and merged in the year 2000. More >

3. Saturn’s Hexagon

The planet’s rings might get most of the glory, but another shape’s been competing for attention: the hexagon. This jet stream is home to a massive hurricane tightly centered on the north pole, with an eye about 50 times larger than the average hurricane eye on Earth. Numerous small vortices spin clockwise while the hexagon and hurricane spin counterclockwise. The biggest of these vortices, seen near the lower right corner of the hexagon and appearing whitish, spans about 2,200 miles, approximately twice the size of the largest hurricane on Earth. More>

4. Monster Storm on Saturn 

A tempest erupted in 2010, extending approximately 9,000 miles north-south large enough to eventually eat its own tail before petering out. The storm raged for 200 days, making it the longest-lasting, planet-encircling storm ever seen on Saturn. More >

5. Mars’ Dust Storm 

Better cover your eyes. Dust storms are a frequent guest on the Red Planet, but one dust storm in 2001 larger by far than any seen on Earth raised a cloud of dust that engulfed the entire planet for three months. As the Sun warmed the airborne dust, the upper atmospheric temperature rose by about 80 degrees Fahrenheit. More >

6. Neptune’s Great Dark Spot

Several large, dark spots on Neptune are similar to Jupiter’s hurricane-like storms. The largest spot, named the “Great Dark Spot” by its discoverers, contains a storm big enough for Earth to fit neatly inside. And, it looks to be an anticyclone similar to Jupiter’s Great Red Spot. More >

7. Sun Twister 

Not to be confused with Earth’s tornadoes, a stalk-like prominence rose up above the Sun, then split into about four strands that twisted themselves into a knot and dispersed over a two-hour period. This close-up shows the effect is one of airy gracefulness. More >

8. Titan’s Arrow-shaped Storm 

The storm blew across the equatorial region of Titan, creating large effects in the form of dark and likely “wet” from liquid hydrocarbons areas on the surface of the moon. The part of the storm visible here measures 750 miles in length east-to-west. The wings of the storm that trail off to the northwest and southwest from the easternmost point of the storm are each 930 miles long. More >

9. Geomagnetic Storms

On March 9, 1989, a huge cloud of solar material exploded from the sun, twisting toward Earth. When this cloud of magnetized solar material called a coronal mass ejection reached our planet, it set off a chain of events in near-Earth space that ultimately knocked out an entire power grid area to the Canadian province Quebec for nine hours. More >

10. Super Typhoon Tip

Back on Earth, Typhoon Tip of 1979 remains the biggest storm to ever hit our planet, making landfall in Japan. The tropical cyclone saw sustained winds peak at 190 mph and the diameter of circulation spanned approximately 1,380 miles. Fortunately, we now have plans to better predict future storms on Earth. NASA recently launched a new fleet of hurricane-tracking satellites, known as the Cyclone Global Navigation Satellite System (CYGNSS), which will use the same GPS technology you and I use in our cars to measure wind speed and ultimately improve how to track and forecast hurricanes. More >

Discover more lists of 10 things to know about our solar system HERE.

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Saturn’s Blue Vortex

As Cassini nears the end of its mission, the spacecraft continues to beam back the most astounding images. Last week as it dove between Saturn and its rings, Cassini captured this stunning view of the planet’s beautiful blue vortex. The vortex is an 1,800 mile wide circular storm spinning around Saturn’s pole. Originally captured in black and white, this is the storm in natural color using filters. That vibrant blue is what you’d actually see due to scattering of sunlight, similar Earth’s sky. 

(Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute/Sophia Nasr)

Sailor Senshi as Witches 🔮

…including the types of magick & divination they might perform.

Originally posted by fyeahsailormoon

  • Sailor Moon - Lunar & Healing Magick; Crystal Ball Scrying 
  • Sailor Mercury - Water & Literary Magick; Bibliomancy
  • Sailor Venus - Glamour & Bath Magick; Palmistry 
  • Sailor Mars - Spirit Work & Protective Magick; Pyromancy
  • Sailor Jupiter - Kitchen & Storm Magick; Ceraunomancy  
  • Sailor Saturn - Baneful & Defensive Magick; Cartomancy 
  • Sailor Uranus - Tech Magick; Shufflemancy 
  • Sailor Neptune - Sea Magick; Sea & Mirror Scrying 
  • Sailor Pluto - Death & Hedge Magick; Bone Scrying


Manspreading (Epilogue)

Word Count: 4k

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4

The air was filled with the fragrance of a thousand flowers, just like it always was inside of your delivery truck, in your house, and most of all in your flower shop. They say the more frequently you smell something, you grow habituated to it and you stop registering it, and maybe that’s true but in the seven years you’ve been a florist, you have yet to take the sweet, cleansing smell for granted.

It has been a long time since you drove around delivering the bouquets yourself. You had stopped doing it ever since your small business grew a little and people started seeking you out personally for the unique designs you poured your soul into creating, and you had to hire a driver to do the delivering for you so your creative process wouldn’t get frequently interrupted.

You started this business out of passion. It was something you chose for yourself, entirely on your own, and so the sheer amount of effort that went into it never felt tiresome to you. You never made two bouquets alike, and you incorporated even the very hard to come by flowers if it meant getting your vision translated into reality just right, and so what little extra money you made -you were adamant on not overpricing your bouquets no matter how successful you got- immediately got spent on improving the little green house you bought and cared for, but that never bothered you. You weren’t in this for the money.

Even though your shop and the green house felt like your little slices of heaven, the chance to deliver some bouquets today, as suggested by Namjoon, was a lovely change of pace. You had forgotten how excited this part was, getting to see the jovial expressions on your clients faces after handing them the final product, and witnessing first-hand the happiness such a simple thing can bring to a person’s life, if even for a moment.

There was only one bouquet left to deliver, and it was the best one yet. A class of second year kindergarteners were graduating to elementary school soon and they wanted to surprise their beloved teacher with a little farewell present. That was the most precious thing you’ve ever heard and you couldn’t wait to see the surprise and happiness on the teacher’s face as the little ones proudly presented the flowers to him.

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Pilot Star

Some nights when you have gone to sleep
I go up to the roof and look for my pilot star,
my navigation star,
my guideline, my trajectory,

the place I am heading
when I stretch out my arms
and leap off the roof
and leave this silly planet behind.

Once I find it, I could go anywhere.

Fling myself out into the black sea,
skip upon every world whirling around the sun:
angry Jupiter, mysterious Saturn,
the frozen pebble of silent Pluto.
I could just keep going, out beyond the asteroids,
out past the dusty corner of everything
humans have ever known,
into the dark, into the dark,
until I find out where space ends
and nothing begins.

I never find it, my pilot star.

It is not there.
I will search and stare and hunt
for my pilot star until the night is almost spent
and then I will go in and lie down next to you,
next to the smell of your hair,
the heat of your body, the shape of you,
and I will know why.

Jupiter has its storms
and Saturn its rings
and forgotten Pluto cold secrets,
but only the Earth has you.

Backlit Saturn - Seen from the Cassini SpacecraftThe Cassini spacecraft was sent by NASA and ESA to study Saturn and its moons. Two of Saturnu2019s moons, Enceladus and Tethys, appear in the bottom right of this image. So far, the spacecraft has found new storm systems on Saturn, active geysers on its moon Enceladus, liquid oceans on its moon Titan, and many other unexpected discoveries.


Storms in other worlds.

Earth is not the only world with storms in our Solar System, and in many cases, even our most destructive storms are pipsqueaks compared to our neighboring worlds.
Venus, with its runaway greenhouse effect has clouds of CO2 and likely lots of lightning.
Mars is known for its dust storms, some are so huge that they will pose threats to future astronauts on Mars. Pictured is a simple dust devil.
The Jovian Giants are full of storms. Jupiter’s big red spot is perhaps the most famous, but the other gas giants are no stranger to epic storms that last many years.
Titan has a dense atmopshere and has an abundance of methane. There are storm systems that rain liquid methane. This means there are vast seas and rivers of methane too.

Cassini Top 10 Images and Science Results of 2015

As our Cassini spacecraft enters its final 20 months before its plunge into Saturn, the mission’s science team has selected their top 10 images from 2015 (above), a year of historic discoveries, as well as the top science results (below). Take a look:

1. First Deep Seafloor Hydrothermal Vents Found Beyond Earth

Cassini found the first evidence of active hot-water chemistry beyond planet Earth. An extensive, four-year analysis of data from the spacecraft, computer simulations and laboratory experiments led researchers to the conclusion the tiny silica (SiCO2) grains most likely form when hot water containing dissolved minerals from the moon’s rocky interior travels upward, coming into contact with cooler water.

2. Global Ocean Beneath Enceladus’ Surface

A global ocean lies beneath the icy crust of Saturn’s geologically active moon Enceladus. Scientists analyzed more than seven years’ worth of images of Enceladus taken by the spacecraft, which has been orbiting Saturn since mid-2004. As a result, they found Enceladus has a tiny, but measurable wobble as it orbits Saturn. This proves that there must be a global layer of liquid separating the surface from the core.

3. Titan Observed Outside of Saturnian Magnetosphere

During Cassini’s flyby of Titan, the giant moon happened to be on the sunward side of Saturn when a powerful outburst of solar activity reached the planet. The strong surge in the solar wind so compressed the sun-facing side of Saturn’s magnetosphere that the bubble’s outer edge was pushed inside the orbit of Titan. This left the moon exposed to, and unprotected from, the raging stream of energetic solar particles. The region of space dominated by Saturn’s magnetic field is called the magnetosphere.

4. Density of a Ring Particles May Indicate Recent Origins

Saturn’s A ring was found to be warmer than expected at the planet’s equinox, and also had an unusually large thermal asymmetry about the equinox. This could be due to the A ring being mostly composed of denser particles made primarily of solid ice, with a thin top layer of fluffy regolith.

5. Titan Southern Polar Ice Cloud

Scientists have detected a monstrous new cloud of frozen compounds in Titan’s low- to mid-stratosphere – a stable atmospheric region above the troposphere, or active weather layer.

6. Curtain Vents on Enceladus?

New research using data from Cassini suggests most of the eruptions from Saturn’s moon Enceladus might actually be diffuse curtains rather than discrete jets. Many features that appear to be individuals jets of material erupting along the length of prominent “tiger stripe” fractures in the moon’s south polar region might be phantoms created by an optical illusion, according to the new study.

7. Discovery of Tethys Red Arcs

Like graffiti sprayed by an unknown artist, unexplained arc-shaped, reddish streaks are visible on the surface of Saturn’s icy moon Tethys. The origin of the features and their reddish color is a mystery to scientists.

8. Saturn’s 30-year Giant Storms Powered by Water Convection

Changes in temperature and the composition of the hydrogen-laden air within the remnants of a giant storm system on Saturn reveal that air was lofted more than 120 miles in altitude from the deeper water condensation levels.

9. Seasonal Change Seen at Saturn’s Poles

Saturn’s polar regions have displayed extreme seasonal changes during Cassini’s decade-long watch, providing the most comprehensive view ever obtained of seasonal change on a giant planet.

10. Huygens Probe Imaging Mosaic of Titan’s Surface and Descent Movie

Ten years ago, an explorer from Earth, the Huygens probe, was released from the Cassini spacecraft and parachuted into the haze of an alien moon toward an uncertain fate. After a gentle descent lasting more than two hours, it landed with a thud on a frigid floodplain on Titan, surrounded by icy cobblestones.

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