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NASA reports that rare, electric blue noctilucent clouds have reappeared over the South Pole, where the clouds are often spotted for five to 10 days every year. NASA calls the clouds “a great geophysical light bulb” that are visible during the darkest nights.
This might look like result of some pro-level CGI, or perhaps even a glimpse into your imagination, but in fact it’s a photograph taken in Antarctica just this last week. As part of Operation Ice Bridge — a multi-year mission to monitor conditions in Antarctica and the Arctic — NASA researchers have just been on a week-long ice-surveying mission. Along the way, they took plenty of photographs.
The sky is blue! Only when it’s not grey. Or purple. Or red. Or orange. The clouds are white! Only when they’re not grey. Or even darker than that. Basically, the clouds and sky can be anything. But can the sky be an orange bubbly thing that looks like we’re on an alien planet? Apparently so.
Humans have been trying to control the weather since the day we traded in our spears for shovels. Cultures from every corner of the globe have worshipped rain-granting deities, and our sci-fi villains have been obsessed with flood and drought. But in the modern era, we no longer have use for the old water gods. We’ve got the technology, finally, to make the clouds do our bidding.
Humans are all about pattern recognition: we want — and maybe need? — to believe that there’s order and meaning behind everything we see and do in life. The future is divined in teacups, superstitions are put on random objects, and — of course — we see ourselves in everything around us. Like the sky.
We’ve seen planes create a fiery vortex in the sky before, but here’s a more peaceful version of it happening in real time. It’s majestically beautiful. The wingtip vortices formed when an Airbus A340 landed at Zurich Airport on a foggy night. Although it looks gorgeous, vortices can be pretty dangerous.