Weather Blog

Weekend eye candy: Saturn's northern lights, more time lapses!

Weekend eye candy: Saturn's northern lights, more time lapses!
This image of the northern polar region of Saturn shows both the aurora and underlying atmosphere, seen at two different wavelengths of infrared light as captured by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft. (NASA Photo)
The Northern Lights are a rare treat around Seattle. But what about auroras on Saturn?

Scientists used to think, "no way," but the Cassini space probe just proved otherwise.

The photo above is from the Cassini probe. Here's the description from NASA:

"Energetic particles, crashing into the upper atmosphere cause the aurora, shown in blue, to glow brightly at 4 microns (six times the wavelength visible to the human eye). The image shows both a bright ring, as seen from Earth, as well as an example of bright auroral emission within the polar cap that had been undetected until the advent of Cassini. This aurora, which defies past predictions of what was expected, has been observed to grow even brighter than is shown here."

You can read more at nasa.gov

As for around here, the sun is in its minimum activity phase of its usual 11 year cycle of activity. It takes a really strong solar flare to see the Northern Lights this far south, so prospects of a light show here in Seattle anytime soon are pretty slim.

But how about some stuff we do get to see around here on a frequent basis: Time lapses!

Here are five from this past week, courtesy of expert time lapser Dr. Dale Ireland over in Silverdale. I'm going to do these a little out of order because the one on Nov. 12 is the one to highlight.

Notice at first the winds are fairly calm as the upper level winds are nearly due west to east and we are in the rain shadow (the camera faces due west.) Then, the front passes late in the afternoon, and the south winds pick up. But as we get toward evening, a Convergence Zone forms and slides south, changing the wind from south to north. Very cool!

Nov. 12:

Nov. 8 -- a soggy day

Nov. 9: -- Clouds billow over Olympics like ice cream scoops:

Nov. 10: -- A Submarine and its escorts go out in the morning and comes back in the pm (about 3:50pm)

Nov. 11: Rain, rain, rain but not as much as Seattle as we were in the rain shadow of the Olympics. Also an eagle in one quick frame at 2:25:39pm

Have a great weekend!