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Analysis and Comment (12)

Eclipse at sunrise over Richmond, Virginia, USA in November 2013. Eclipse at sunrise over Richmond, Virginia, USA in November 2013. Sky Noir (Bill Dickinson)/Flickr

Explainer: what is a solar eclipse?

A couple of weeks ago, we were treated to a total lunar eclipse – and on Thursday afternoon, North America will see a partial solar eclipse. Each month, at the time of new moon, the sun and moon are together…
Watching the sun over a nature reserve in ACT, Australia. Watching the sun over a nature reserve in ACT, Australia. Flickr/Andrew

Explainer: what makes the spring equinox?

It’s the time of the equinox or more specifically the spring equinox for us in the southern hemisphere. The equinox is a midpoint. It’s around now that day and night become equal in length (but more about…
The dawn of a new day. The dawn of a new day. Flickr/Christos Tsoumplekas

Explainer: how does our sun shine?

What makes our sun shine has been a mystery for most of human history. Given our sun is a star and stars are suns, explaining the source of the sun’s energy would help us understand why stars shine. An…
Like Icarus, passengers on aircraft during solar flares can cop the effects of flying close to the sun. Like Icarus, passengers on aircraft during solar flares can cop the effects of flying close to the sun. HK.Colin/Flickr

Are you a frequent flyer? Solar storm radiation can be harmful

Space weather impacts many modern-day technologies. But one of the most concerning – and least reported – space weather effects is the increased radiation exposure to passengers on commercial long-distance…
Amazing colours in the Southern Lights seen from Primrose Sands, near Hobart. Amazing colours in the Southern Lights seen from Primrose Sands, near Hobart. Francois Fourie

The Southern Lights put on a display in the night sky

Over the past few months night sky watchers in the southern parts of Australia have been presented with lots of beautiful displays of the Aurora Australis or Southern Lights. So what causes the impressive…
What’s going on up there? What’s going on up there? VinothChandar

Why is the sun going quiet?

The sun is our nearest star and the source of all our light and heat on Earth but recent reports have highlighted an ongoing steep decline in solar activity. This story is a reminder that our sun is a…
If your levels are a little low, ten minutes of mid-morning or mid-afternoon sunshine could get you back to normal. If your levels are a little low, ten minutes of mid-morning or mid-afternoon sunshine could get you back to normal. Image from shutterstock.com

My vitamin D levels are low, should I take a supplement?

If your blood test results suggest you’re low on vitamin D, you’re not alone – nearly one-third of the Australian population isn’t getting enough of the sunshine vitamin. But this doesn’t necessarily mean…
The ‘Comet of the Century’ had a violent encounter with the sun. The ‘Comet of the Century’ had a violent encounter with the sun. NASA/Goddard/SOHO

Comet ISON fizzles … but there’s a sting in the tail

If there is one thing we know about comets, it is that their behaviour is really hard to predict and that they will always surprise us – and sometimes disappoint. Unfortunately it looks like comet ISON…
How will Earth weather solar storms while the sun flips its magnetic field? How will Earth weather solar storms while the sun flips its magnetic field? NASA Goddard Photo and Video

A solar magnetic reversal means there’s no need to flip out – yet

You may have read the sun’s magnetic field is heading for a change in field polarity - meaning it will flip upside down - and could have ripple effects throughout the entire solar system. So what does…
A new study shows only 30% of stars in a globular cluster will reach old age and become planetary nebulae. A new study shows only 30% of stars in a globular cluster will reach old age and become planetary nebulae. NASA

A stellar mid-life crisis: why do some cluster stars die early?

It was written in the stars all along, but we’ve just found out: a whopping 70% of stars in a widely-studied cluster die before reaching old age which, for stars, is the most productive stage of their…
The sun’s influence on climate may be smaller than you’ve heard. The sun’s influence on climate may be smaller than you’ve heard. onlinewoman/Flickr

Sun and climate moving in opposite directions, says leaked IPCC report

Last week, blogger Alec Rawls leaked a working draft of the 5th Assessment Report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). One section of the IPCC report examines the role of the sun on…
Three years ago we discovered water on the moon, and now we’ve worked out where it’s from. Three years ago we discovered water on the moon, and now we’ve worked out where it’s from. Jason Bache

Blowin' in the (solar) wind: how the moon got its water

A study published in the journal Nature Geoscience last week suggests water on the moon may have come, at least in part, from the sun. Until a few years ago the orthodox view was that the moon was bone-dry…

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