At their most powerful, these are manifest as the sudden tossing of a pile of leaves, as high winds, storms, sand storms, dust clouds, whirlwinds, hurricanes, tornadoes, rainbows, comets and shooting stars. You can experience air elemental if you are standing on the deck of a ship in a high wind; see their patterns in the clouds outside the cabin of an aircraft during turbulence; and witness them on swinging bridges and in all high, open places, especially in unsettled weather.
They are also expressed through the power and flight of the eagle, hawk and birds of prey in swooping flocks of birds, as butterflies and as the mythical Native North American Thunderbird.
Astronomy Picture of the Day
Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.
2012 July 3
In the Shadow of Saturn’s Rings
Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute/J. Major
Explanation: Humanity’s robot orbiting Saturn has recorded yet another amazing view. That robot, of course, is the spacecraft Cassini, while the new amazing view includes a bright moon, thin rings, oddly broken clouds, and warped shadows. Titan, Saturn’s largest moon, appears above as a featureless tan as it is continually shrouded in thick clouds. The rings of Saturn are seen as a thin line because they are so flat and imaged nearly edge on. Details of Saturn’s rings are therefore best visible in the dark ring shadows seen across the giant planet’s cloud tops. Since the ring particles orbit in the same plane as Titan, they appear to skewer the foreground moon. In the upper hemisphere of Saturn, the clouds show many details, including dips in long bright bands indicating disturbances in a high altitude jet stream. Recent precise measurements of how much Titan flexes as it orbits Saturn hint that vast oceans of water might exist deep underground.
Astronomy Picture of the Day
Discover the cosmos!Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.
2012 February 8
Enceladus Backlit by Saturn
Image Credit: Cassini Imaging Team, SSI, JPL, ESA, NASA; Color Composite: Gordan Ugarkovic
Explanation: This moon is shining by the light of its planet. Specifically, a large portion of Enceladus pictured above is illuminated primarily by sunlight first reflected from the planet Saturn. The result is that the normally snow-white moon appears in the gold color of Saturn’s cloud tops. As most of the illumination comes from the image left, a labyrinth of ridges throws notable shadows just to the right of the image center, while the kilometer-deep canyon Labtayt Sulci is visible just below. The bright thin crescent on the far right is the only part of Enceladus directly lit by the Sun. The above image was taken last year by the robotic Cassini spacecraft during a close pass by by the enigmatic moon. Inspection of the lower part of this digitally sharpened image reveals plumes of ice crystals thought to originate in a below-surface sea.