It’s a plateau I tell’s ya

Another year, another record:

Earth’s 2016 surface temperatures were the warmest since modern recordkeeping began in 1880, according to independent analyses by NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Globally-averaged temperatures in 2016 were 1.78 degrees Fahrenheit (0.99 degrees Celsius) warmer than the mid-20th century mean. This makes 2016 the third year in a row to set a new record for global average surface temperatures.

Most of the warming occurred in the past 35 years, with 16 of the 17 warmest years on record occurring since 2001. Not only was 2016 the warmest year on record, but eight of the 12 months that make up the year – from January through September, with the exception of June – were the warmest on record for those respective months. October, November, and December of 2016 were the second warmest of those months on record – in all three cases, behind records set in 2015.

The NOAA is much more conservative:

During 2016, the average temperature across global land and ocean surfaces was 1.69°F (0.94°C) above the 20th century average. This was the highest among all 137 years in the 1880–2016 record, surpassing the previous record set last year by 0.07°F (0.04°C). The first eight months of the year had record high temperatures for their respective months. Since the start of the 21st century, the annual global temperature record has been broken five times (2005, 2010, 2014, 2015, and 2016).

No wait, they’re saying the same thing as NASA (although NASA says 2016 was .09°C above 2015).

If you look at the temperatures since 1880 there is no obvious pattern (the data is from here, Credit: GISTEMP Team, 2017: GISS Surface Temperature Analysis (GISTEMP). NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies. Dataset accessed 20Y17-01-18at


Well, there’s no obvious pattern if you’re paid to see no pattern.

Out with a bang

In some ways this has been a pretty bad year. but with a President Trump I expect the next few years to be worse. Therefore, let me put up some nice pictures of what the world under Trump might look like. First it’s NGC 6357 (Credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/PSU/L. Townsley et al; Optical: UKIRT; Infrared: NASA/JPL-Caltech) :

Astronomers call NGC 6357 and other objects like it “HII” (pronounced “H-two”) regions. An HII region is created when the radiation from hot, young stars strips away the electrons from neutral hydrogen atoms in the surrounding gas to form clouds of ionized hydrogen, which is denoted scientifically as “HII”.

Donald Trump will certainly strip some pretty important things from our country. Anyway, it’s a pretty picture:


Next is megamaser (Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA, Acknowledgement: Judy Schmidt (geckzilla)):

Megamasers are intensely bright, around 100 million times brighter than the masers found in galaxies like the Milky Way. The entire galaxy essentially acts as an astronomical laser that beams out microwave emission rather than visible light (hence the ‘m’ replacing the ‘l’).

This galaxy has a far more exciting and futuristic classification than most — it is a megamaser. Megamasers are intensely bright, around 100 million times brighter than the masers found in galaxies like the Milky Way. The entire galaxy essentially acts as an astronomical laser that beams out microwave emission rather than visible light (hence the ‘m’ replacing the ‘l’).  This megamaser is named IRAS 16399-0937, and is located over 370 million light-years from Earth. This NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image belies the galaxy’s energetic nature, instead painting it as a beautiful and serene cosmic rosebud. The image comprises observations captured across various wavelengths by two of Hubble’s instruments: the Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS), and the Near Infrared Camera and Multi-Object Spectrometer (NICMOS).  NICMOS’s superb sensitivity, resolution, and field of view gave astronomers the unique opportunity to observe the structure of IRAS 16399-0937 in detail. They found that IRAS 16399-0937 hosts a double nucleus — the galaxy’s core is thought to be formed of two separate cores in the process of merging. The two components, named IRAS 16399N and IRAS 16399S for the northern and southern parts respectively, sit over 11 000 light-years apart. However, they are both buried deep within the same swirl of cosmic gas and dust and are interacting, giving the galaxy its peculiar structure. The nuclei are very different. IRAS 16399S appears to be a starburst region, where new stars are forming at an incredible rate. IRAS 16399N, however, is something known as a LINER nucleus (Low Ionization Nuclear Emission Region), which is a region whose emission mostly stems from weakly-ionised or neutral atoms of particular gases. The northern nucleus also hosts a black hole with some 100 million times the mass of the Sun!


Happy New Year.

Tour the solar system

These tour guide like posters are pretty good, like this one of Europa (Courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech):


Ok, I’m off to Europa. Have fun on stuffy old Earth.

Spit take

Scientists have found more evidence that Jupiter’s moon Europa has water plumes erupting from the service (Credit: NASA/ESA/W. Sparks (STScI)/USGS Astrogeology Science Center):


This backs up evidence found in 2012, but I have a different theory. I think Europa is a sentient being and every once in a while it takes a peak at Earth and is so astounded by what’s going on that it spits out the water it was drinking.

In other news, the first Presidential debate is toning so expect an extra large plume if Europa is looking our way.

Juno in orbit about Jupiter

The Juno spacecraft is now in orbit about Jupiter. It was launched in 2011 and went into orbit yesterday. Here is the last picture Juno took before it went into orbit when it was 3.3 million miles away (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS):


Juno will orbit Jupiter for 20 months and then be sent down to the planet in February 2018.

Still hot

Another month, another record. The global temperature in April according to NASA (go here for the main page) was 1.11 degrees Celsius above the 19511980 average. No month on record, starting in 1880, was more than 1 degree above the average until October 2015; every month since then has been. 2014 broke the record for the highest average temperature, .75 degrees Celsius above average; 2015 broke that record, .87 degrees Celsius above average; so far 2016 is 1.18 degrees Celsius above average.

If you’re not a global warming denier, you might notice a trend (I first put together this graph here):


and you’ll notice this doesn’t even include this year yet. This really is quite scary.

You can see Mercury against the Sun, really

There was an eclipse of the Sun by Mercury yesterday (Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls):

The planet Mercury is seen in silhouette, lower third of image, as it transits across the face of the sun Monday, May 9, 2016, as viewed from Boyertown, Pennsylvania.  Mercury passes between Earth and the sun only about 13 times a century, with the previous transit taking place in 2006.  Photo Credit: (NASA/Bill Ingalls)

…umm ok, it’s not very impressive (you have to click on the image to even notice it) but really that’s Mercury there in the lower third (on the other hand, it does show how massive the Sun is).

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