The Aurora Australis

Source: A. Sparrow, http://www.flickr.com/photos/49937157@N03/7574363700/. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic licence. The vast majority of people on Earth (around 88 to 90 percent) live in the Northern Hemisphere. As such, when it comes to natural light displays in the atmosphere, the northern lights or aurora borealis (named after the Greek name for the…

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Moonbows, Moon Dogs, and Moon Pillars: Lunar Optical Illusions

Everyone loves a rainbow when the sun comes out after a rainstorm, and everyone’s laid their eyes on a vibrant sunrise or sunset.  Maybe you’ve even seen a sun dog on a bright, clear day.  But have you ever seen a ring around the Moon?  How about a moonbow? Atmospheric optical effects aren’t just limited…

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What Makes the Dead Sea So… Dead?

This is the first of a two-part entry on the Dead Sea. With a salinity level of 33.7 percent (approximately 44 billion tons’ worth), the Dead Sea is one of the most hypersaline bodies of of water on the planet, with a salt content 8.6 times greater than any ocean. The waters of the Dead Sea…

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Crocker Land: Last of the Phantom Islands

We live in a satellite age; for the most part, we can look at any part of the world’s surface at any time and find what we’re looking for. While the slow-but-constant process of time changes our landscape and always requires changes to maps, the general outline of the world’s landmasses are fairly well-mapped at…

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Foehn Wind: The Snow Eater

If you live downwind of a major mountain range (say, in Calgary, Alberta, or Ticino, Switzerland, or on the Canterbury Plains of New Zealand’s South Island), chances are you have encountered many a skyline like this: Source: Oldfaw, http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/5/58/Helm_bar_mallerstang.JPG. Used under the GNU Free Documentation License Version 1.2. Or this: Or perhaps even this: Source: Surrealplaces, http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Chinook-arch-03.jpg. Licensed under…

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