Stories tagged magnetosphere

Aug
27
2008

Cow pointing north: Maybe THIS is why you always see animals on weather vanes
Cow pointing north: Maybe THIS is why you always see animals on weather vanesCourtesy Leo Reynolds
Researchers in Germany used Google Earth to examine hundreds of aerial images of cattle herds at rest and found that 2 out of 3 cows tended to align their bodies north-south. It seems that no one has really ever noticed this before, which is a little shocking. On the other hand it's nice to know that science still has some basic observations left to be made.

At first I was a bit skeptical. As a kid I'd heard that you could tell if it was going to rain depending on whether cows were laying down or not, which is a silly tale for sure...so maybe this was a similar situation? How would cows sense the Earth's magnetic field anyways? Actually, lots of animals can sense the earth's magnetic field:

Most of this research is still under-way and new discoveries may give us different explanations about how animals sense the Earth's magnetic field. Yet, it is certain that all varieties of creatures, cows included, seem to be able to sense the Earth's weak yet significant magnetic field.

What about you? Can you feel North?

The Earth’s magnetic field seems to be weakening in some places. This can allow high-energy particles from space to enter the atmosphere, where they can wreak havoc on electronic communications. It may also be a prelude to a flip in the Earth’s polarity, with the north and south magnetic poles switching places. Santa Claus may have to move as a result.

Dec
15
2006

Aurora, 12/14/06: Photo by Eugene Dillenburg.
Aurora, 12/14/06: Photo by Eugene Dillenburg.

Did anybody see the northern lights this week? I went out Thursday night, and it was awesome!

I headed out about 11:00 pm EST. Temps in the mid-40s -- not bad for mid-Michigan in mid-December! I walked a couple of blocks to a park near my apartment which I knew had a big field surrounded by trees, and no lights. On my way, I could see the sky glowing a pale green, as if the lights of the city were reflecting off a low cloud. Only, there were no clouds last night, and there's nothing but farmland north of Lansing.

Aug
10
2006

Magnetosphere: Solar particles interact with magnetosphere. NASA graphic via wikipedia
Magnetosphere: Solar particles interact with magnetosphere. NASA graphic via wikipedia

SUNSPOT 904

A large and beautiful new sunspot is emerging from the sun's eastern limb: image. So far it poses no threat for Earth-directed solar flares, but this could change. The spot is growing fast and turning toward Earth. Stay tuned for updates.

11 year sun spot cyle

We are currently at the lowest activity of the 11 year sunspot cycle. Sun spots, when facing Earth can send solar flares toward Earth. The Earth's magnetosphere shields us from these high energy particles but astronauts in space need to be concerned.

James Van Allen dies at 91

I think it is fitting to mention that James Van Allen died yesterday Aug 9, 2006 He discovered of the Van Allen radiation belts, which I associate with the Nothern lights, which come from sun spot flares.