Northern lights, in history and now


This video says about itself:

Night of the Northern Lights

On 25th February 2014 Sun produced X4.9 flare which on 27th February caused G2 (KP 6) geomagnetic storm on Earth. It was the brightest aurora display so far during this solar maximum which I could witness with auroral displays overhead in the far north of Scotland. This short movie illustrates what has been seen from latitude 58.3 degrees north.

By Peter Frost in Britain:

Heavenly treat

Friday 27th March 2015

As natural phenomena go few come more spectacular or mysterious than the northern lights. PETER FROST dons his astronomer’s hat to reveal their provenance

They saw them in Scotland, in Northumberland, on the Isle of Man and as far south as north Norfolk. It was some of the best British sightings of the aurora borealis, the famous northern lights, in living memory.

Hundreds of people all over Britain braved the freezing late night and early mornings but declared the experience one well worth getting frozen for.

Those lucky enough to see them described spectacular waves, streaks or curtains of pale green and pink, but shades of red, yellow, blue and violet were also spotted.

It’s rare for northern lights to be seen from anywhere in Britain and when they are visible it is usually from Shetland, Orkney or the north of Scotland.

Last week however, good sightings could be had from all over the country as far south as Norfolk. These amazing multicoloured ethereal light displays are caused by collisions between electrically charged particles from the sun that enter into the earth’s atmosphere.

They are more common much further north and British tourists normally need to take cruises or air holidays to northern latitudes if they want to see the amazing spectacle.

Polar lights — the aurora polaris — are a natural phenomenon found in both the northern and southern hemispheres. The northern versions are called aurora borealis while the southern lights aurora australis.

They were first named by two great early astronomers Pierre Gassendi and Galileo Galilei both of whom witnessed a spectacular display in September 1621. They jointly named the phenomena aurora borealis — the northern dawn.

Much earlier, a thousand years ago, Gregory of Tours, Gallo-Roman historian, scientist and later saint looked into the night sky over France and saw a light “… so bright that you might have thought that day was about to dawn.”

We now know the origin of the aurora starts on the surface of the sun when solar activity ejects a cloud of gas. If one of these reaches Earth it collides with its magnetic field two or three days after leaving the sun.

Our planet’s magnetic field is invisible but if it could be seen it would make Earth look like a comet with a long magnetic tail stretching a million miles behind us away from the sun.

When a coronal mass ejection — as the stream of cloud of gas from the sun’s surface is more properly named — collides with the magnetic field it causes complex changes to happen to the magnetic tail region.

These changes generate currents of charged particles, which then flow along lines of magnetic force towards the Earth’s poles.

The particles are boosted in energy in Earth’s upper atmosphere and when they collide with oxygen and nitrogen atoms they produce the dazzling light shows that are the aurora.

Beautiful they may be but the invisible flows of particles and magnetism can damage electrical power grids and also affect satellites operating in space.

The lights can be in place day and night but are not bright enough to be visible in daylight. For the same reason in cities or towns with lots of light pollution you are unlikely to get good viewing.

Auroras tend to be more frequent and spectacular during high solar sunspot activity and these cycle over periods of approximately 11 years. That is what is happening now.

Some displays are particularly spectacular and make the headlines. This happened in August-September 1859, in February 1958, which I remember seeing as a London schoolboy, and in March 1989 the last time really good sightings were possible in southern England.

Last February produced spectacular solar activity and a few relatively clear nights again gave some lucky stargazers a chance to see the spectacular and colourful light show.

This year has been even better and there is a good chance that the shows aren’t over. Keep your eyes on those northern skies.

Nazi marches in Britain flop


This video from England says about itself:

A Very Nazi Wedding (1963). Colin Jordan and Francoise Dior.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Nazis hide from racism protesters behind cops

Monday 23rd March 2015

A TINY posse of far-right extremists was outnumbered and heavily protected by police when they staged a march in Newcastle on Saturday.

The event was billed as a “White Man March” and groups taking part included the National Front and the British Movement — the openly nazi group founded and run by the late Colin Jordan.

Marchers carried union flags and banners featuring far-right symbols such as the sun wheel, or Black Sun, symbol, also used by Ukraine’s fascist Azov Battalion.

Anti-fascists estimated that about 85 people took part, far fewer than those who gathered to oppose them.

It is believed that nine of the right-wing extremists were arrested.

The master race has never been very bright or attractive, so before the march even started two senior figures in the National Front were arrested,” said a spokesman for anti-racism group Hope Not Hate.

– Just four people turned out to a demo in Edinburgh by Germany-based right-wing outfit Pegida on Saturday.

Homophobic sexually abusive Scottish Cardinal O’Brien resigns


This 2013 video from Scotland is called Cardinal Keith O’Brien: Vatican inquiry over ‘sexual conduct’.

From daily The Guardian in Britain:

Pope Francis accepts Scottish cardinal Keith O’Brien‘s resignation

O’Brien to step down from clerical duties following allegations of sexual misconduct, but will retain his title

Mark Tran

Friday 20 March 2015 13.56 GMT

Pope Francis has accepted the decision of the Scottish cardinal Keith O’Brien to step down from clerical duties over allegations of sexual misconduct.

O’Brien will retain his title, but he will be reduced to strictly private life. The resignation followed the decision by the pope to send a personal envoy, archbishop Charles Scicluna, to Scotland last year to investigate the allegations.

Francis reached his decision based on the inquiry. Its contents are only known fully know only to the pontiff and Scicluna. O’Brien’s decision followed a private discussion with Francis. …

O’Brien resigned in 2013 amid allegations published in the Observer of sexual impropriety made by three priests and one former priest. O’Brien was Britain’s most senior Roman Catholic cleric at the time, and he was ordered by the Vatican to spend a period of time in “prayer and penance”.

A year ago, one of the men appealed directly to Pope Francis to intervene, describing the church as a “formidable machine” and accusing officials of having “passed the buck, misrepresented the truth, engaged in cover-up and … shamelessly procrastinated”.

“I want to ask Pope Francis can you sort this out,” the man told the Observer.

O’Brien, who was due to retire in March 2013, was an outspoken opponent of gay rights. He condemned homosexuality as immoral, opposed gay adoption, and argued that same-sex marriages would be “harmful to the physical, mental and spiritual well-being of those involved”.

In 2012, he was named bigot of the year by the gay rights charity Stonewall.

It is understood that the first allegation against the cardinal dates back to 1980. The complainant was then a 20-year-old seminarian at St Andrew’s College, Drygrange, where O’Brien was his “spiritual director”.

Oldest osprey ‘Lady’, when will she be back in Scotland?


This video from Scotland is called Loch of the Lowes Ospreys 2013 – 31 March 7.15 – Marge/Lady and Laddie.

From Wildlife Extra:

Trust asks public to guess Osprey arrival time to win a VIP experience

The Scottish Wildlife Trust has issued an invitation to guess when the famous female Osprey, known affectionately by many as ‘Lady’, will arrive back in Perthshire for a record-breaking 25th year.

The bird has returned to the Trust’s Loch of the Lowes Visitor Centre and Wildlife Reserve, near Dunkeld to breed every year since 1991.

In that time she has laid 71 eggs and fledged 50 chicks, which possibly makes her Europe’s oldest and most prolific breeding Osprey.

As anticipation builds, the Scottish Wildlife Trust has launched a competition supported by players of People’s Postcode Lottery to guess when ‘Lady’ might arrive.

The winner of the competition will be treated to a once-in-a-lifetime, VIP Osprey Experience at Loch of the Lowes plus an osprey adoption pack.

The Scottish Wildlife Trust Perthshire Ranger, Charlotte Fleming, says: “Excitement is growing at Loch of the Lowes as we approach the time when our resident female Osprey usually returns.

“Her earliest arrival was on 20 March 2009 and her latest arrival was on 7 April 1991 (the first year she ever appeared), so it really is anyone’s guess.

“Time and again, despite the odds, she has surprised us, so we remain hopeful she will be back again.

“The Scottish Wildlife Trust is encouraging people to keep an eye on the nest by visiting Scottishwildlifetrust.org.uk/ospreycam, as she could arrive at any time.”

Clara Govier, Head of Charities at People’s Postcode Lottery, says: “Players are in love with the story of the female Osprey at Loch of the Lowes and that makes supporting this competition all the more special.

“Our players will be watching the ospreycam to make sure they don’t miss her return.”

Every year, the webcam on the nest attract over a million viewers from 96 different countries including: Vietnam, Zimbabwe, and Kuwait.

A special feature has been launched this season giving viewers a chance to receive behind-the-scenes insights from the team at Loch of the Lowes.

You can enter the People’s Postcode Lottery Osprey Countdown by visiting scottishwildlifetrust.org.uk/osprey-countdown.

See also here.

Rare blue-winged teal at Orkney islands


This video is called Blue-winged teal duck, Anas discors, April 2010 High Park Grenadier Pond, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

From the Rare Bird Network in Britain, on Twitter:

Orkney: BLUE-WINGED TEAL 1 drake again today on Mainland. At the Shunan.

This North American species is rare in Europe.