Topic: sunlight

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Does ‘the ozone hole’ hold the secret to fixing climate change?

We don’t hear much about 'the hole' in the ozone layer anymore. That’s because we’ve all but fixed it, thanks to consumer choices and a massive international agreement called the Montreal Protocol. Can we learn anythi...

Shadows On Other Worlds

Explore the wonder of light from our star, the Sun, and how Shadows On Other Worlds, like on Venus or a faraway planet orbiting the red star Glise 581, would behave a little differently than they do here on Earth. Thi...

Go inside an ice cave to see nature’s most beautiful blue

Where do glaciers and icebergs get their beautiful blue color? This unique blue might be nature’s most brilliant, and the color arises in a very special way thanks to some surprising interactions between light and wat...

How do solar panels work?

The Earth intercepts a lot of solar power: 173,000 terawatts. That’s 10,000 times more power than the planet’s population uses. So is it possible that one day the world could be completely reliant on solar energy? ...

The 2017 Solar Eclipse from the shores of Palisades Reservoir, Idaho

Stand on the shores of Palisades Reservoir, Idaho as the moon's shadow passes over you and the crowds around you cheer. This awe-inspiring moment of totality, when a new moon blocks the sun's light during a solar ecli...

Eclipses Throughout Our Universe – Out There

An exercise in cosmic geometry. A reminder that we live on one sphere among many, all moving to the laws of Kepler, Newton and Einstein. The moon’s orbit around the Earth is slightly tilted, so the shadow of the new m...

How to watch a total or partial solar eclipse

On Monday, August 21st, 2017, sky gazers can witness a total or partial solar eclipse—weather-permitting and depending on their location on the planet—as it traverses North America. There's been a lot of excitement in...

A full circle rainbow as seen from a construction crane

High over St. Petersburg, Russia, from the top of a construction crane at the Lakhta Center, a huge rainbow can be seen in its full form: a circle. Phil Plait explains the science in his 2014 Bad Astronomy article: ...

Sandwich Bag Fire Starter

The intensity of sunlight on Earth is about 1300 Watts per square meter. When you focus the sun's rays using a magnifying glass (or in this case sphere of water) you can increase the intensity roughly ten thousand fol...

Why the Giant Sequoia Needs Fire to Grow

Giant sequoias, the planet's largest trees and among the oldest living things on Earth—many of the largest are over 3,000 years old—depend on fire to help them reproduce. Learn how a destructive force is necessary for...

A winter solstice time lapse in Fairbanks, Alaska

Filmed in time lapse on December 21, 2012 by weather researcher Taro Nakai, enjoy the sun moving low across the sky for the winter solstice in Fairbanks, Alaska, a city that's around 193 kilometers (120 miles) south o...

Can Bird Poop Make Clouds?

How does bird poop potentially help to keep our climate just a wee bit cooler? In this episode of Gross Science, Anna Rothschild helps connect tens of millions of seabirds in the Arctic to 40,000 metric tons of ammoni...

The Snail-Smashing, Fish-Spearing, Eye-Popping Mantis Shrimp

The mantis shrimp is a fascinating creature. One kind impales prey with a spear-like appendage and another smashes prey with a built-in club — the fastest attack in the animal kingdom. "At 30 times faster than the bli...

What Really Causes Sunburns?

Why does your skin turn red and peel when you get a sunburn? In this episode of Gross Science, Anna Rothschild explains what's going on in our skin when it burns from sun exposure.

One Year on Earth – Seen From 1 Million Miles

Every two hours, NASA's Epic camera on NOAA's DSCOVR satellite captures a set of images from its L1 (Lagrange point 1) orbit. The images of Earth's sunlit side are taken in ten different wavelengths. The first color-a...

The Science of Skin Color – TED Ed

When ultraviolet sunlight hits our skin, it affects each of us differently. Depending on skin color, it’ll take only minutes of exposure to turn one person beetroot-pink, while another requires hours to experience the...

Yosemite’s Horsetail ‘firefall’ at sunset

Filmed on February 15th, 2016, a brilliant sunset illuminates the white mist and spray of Yosemite National Park's Horsetail Fall with bright oranges and reds. Called a 'firefall', the name for this optical illusion "...

Shade balls roll into the LA Reservoir to prevent water evaporation

2016 Update: Why shade balls aren’t such a great idea after all and The drought-busting balls that don't bust drought. How do you keep your recycled water from evaporating during a state-wide drought? Shade balls. ...

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