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Summer Solstice occured 9 hours ago

Posted by feww on June 22, 2011

It’s Summer!

The summer solstice in the Northern Hemisphere occurred about 9 hours ago  at 17:16UTC (1:16 PM EDT) on Tuesday, June 21st.

The summer solstice occurs when Earth’s obliquity or axial tilt is at a maximum inclination of 23° 26′ toward Sun. It’s the time of the year when the sun reaches its northern most position.

In the Northern Hemisphere the summer solstice occurs in June north of the Tropic of Cancer (23°26’N);  in the Southern Hemisphere it occurs  in December south of the Tropic of Capricorn (23°26’S).

In the Southern Hemisphere this year’s summer solstice will occur on December 22 at 05:30UTC.

Seasons are caused by the fact that the Earth is tilted on its axis by 23.5°. The summer solstice occurs when the sun is directly over the Tropic of Cancer, which is located at 23.5° North, and runs through Mexico, the Bahamas, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, India, and southern China.  Because of the Earth’s tilt, the sun will be directly over the Tropic of Cancer at 1116 am MDT on June 21, 2011.  For every place north of the Tropic of Cancer, the sun is at its highest point in the sky and this is the longest day of the year. The winter solstice occurs when the sun is directly over the Tropic of Capricorn, which is located at 23.5° south of the equator. The sun will be directly over the Tropic of Capricorn at  1030 pm on December 21, 2011. There are two times of the year when the Earth’s axis is tilted neither toward nor away from the sun, resulting in an equal amount of daylight and darkness at all latitudes.  These events are referred to as equinoxes and occur near March 21 (Vernal Equinox) and near September 21 (Autumnal Equinox).  At the equator, the sun is directly overhead at noon on the two equinoxes. The Vernal Equinox occurred at  521 pm MDT on March 21, 2011.  The Autumnal Equinox will occur at 304 am MDT on September 2, 2011. [Source of image and caption: NWS Albuquerque]

Although the summer solstice is the longest day of the year, the days on either side of the solstice are only a few seconds shorter.  See diagram above for Albuquerque daylight. [Source: NWS Albuquerque]

Loss of Seasons?

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Top 10 Messages from Pluto

Posted by feww on February 6, 2010

Keep Your Paws Off PLUTO!

10 Messages From Plutonians Might Send NASA

10. Keep your paws OFF Pluto.
9. This is a decent planet inhabited by intelligent folks.
You call it Solar System; we call it home!
7. Pluto’s moons are unlike your moon, but you wouldn’t know the difference, would you.
6. We deal severely with junk dumpers in the space.
We don’t wish to pass your fertility test.
There’s more water on your moon than on Pluto’s moons [and we didn’t have to rape our moons to find out, you Neanderthals.]
3. Think universal;
stay local!
2. You can’t go to Mars via Pluto, or by way of your moon for that mater.
1. We have landed on
Charon, our largest moon; what’s taking you guys so long?

Pluto and her moons.
Credit: NASA, ESA, H. Weaver (JHU/APL), A. Stern (SwRI), and the HST Pluto Companion Search Team

‘Pluto has become significantly redder, while its illuminated northern hemisphere is getting brighter.’ NASA

Images below are purported to be NASA’s most detailed images of planet Pluto. ‘Hubble Space Telescope show an icy, mottled, dark molasses-colored world undergoing seasonal surface color and brightness changes.’ NASA said.

‘These changes are most likely consequences of surface ice melting on the sunlit pole and then refreezing on the other pole, as the dwarf planet heads into the next phase of its 248-year-long seasonal cycle. Analysis shows the dramatic change in color took place from 2000 to 2002.’

The distant dwarf, Pluto, was discovered in 1930, but had to wait until NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope could map it in detail more than 6 decades later.

But does NASA’s account of ‘seasonal surface color and brightness changes’ correctly explain the image differences? When is Hubble due in for another service?

[February 4, 2010.] New Hubble Maps of Pluto Show Surface Changes. Since its discovery in 1930, Pluto has been a speck of light in the largest ground-based telescopes. But NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope has now mapped the dwarf planet in never-before-seen detail. The new map is so good, astronomers have even been able to detect changes on the dwarf planet’s surface by comparing Hubble images taken in 1994 with the newer images taken in 2002-2003. The task is as challenging as trying to see the markings on a soccer ball 40 miles away.

Hubble’s view isn’t sharp enough to see craters or mountains, if they exist on the surface, but Hubble reveals a complex-looking and variegated world with white, dark-orange, and charcoal-black terrain. The overall color is believed to be a result of ultraviolet radiation from the distant Sun breaking up methane that is present on Pluto’s surface, leaving behind a dark, molasses-colored, carbon-rich residue. Astronomers were very surprised to see that Pluto’s brightness has changed — the northern pole is brighter and the southern hemisphere is darker and redder. Summer is approaching Pluto’s north pole, and this may cause surface ices to melt and refreeze in the colder shadowed portion of the planet. The Hubble pictures underscore that Pluto is not simply a ball of ice and rock but a dynamic world that undergoes dramatic atmospheric changes. Source: Hubble/NASA Press Release

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some of the ideas for this post were submitted by readers

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