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Bente Lilja ByeRSS Feed of this column.

Earth science expert and astrophysicist writes about Earth observation, geodesy, climate change, geohazards, water cycle and other science related topics.

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My favorite star, our very own Sun, has a multitude of spectacular features she shows off with grandeur. In fact, the Sun was the subject of my thesis and so she is extra special to me.

When you think about all the billions and billions of stars out there in the vast universe, we are very lucky to live so close to one of them. This ball of fire, an electromagnetic plasma wonderland, is still quite a mystery to us. With the help of the likes of NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) we keep adding new information and perhaps understanding to our knowledge capital. I like to think so.
My Heart and Soul is in space. There is not a shred of doubt about that. Since I was a little girl my head has been turned in an upward direction - often both physically and mentally. Come Valentine's Day and my thoughts go straight into space.

Heart and Soul Nebulae
What a spectacular coincidence! A meteor hitting Earth on the day the asteroid 2012 DA14 is passing close by!

When I was contemplating what kind of natural disasters I should throw in the scenarios for my Planet Earth: Extreme Beauty - Extreme Danger I was considering a big asteroid NOT missing the target for once. I chose a major blast from the Sun instead as that is something that happens more frequently anyhow, at least at certain points in time of the Sun spot cycle.
NASA has got the hang of it now. Creating an almost unbearable suspense before the launching of a new satellite, that is. Actually, the last time NASA tortured us with excitement was in connection with a landing, and not a launching. I am of course referring to Curiosity's landing on Mars. That went well, to put it mildly. Both the 'show' and now the results that are ticking in from the mission. Currently it is drill baby, drill mode on Mars!

Landsat 8 satellite
The Chinese Spring Festival or Chun Jie starts tomorrow 10th February. In case you are unfamiliar with the annual animals in the Chinese calendar we are now entering the year of the snake - 蛇 She ( water version). For most westerners the Spring Festival is known as the Chinese New Year.
Puh! Another big one. Earthquakes of magnitude 8.0 are big to put it mildly. Luckily it happened deeper in the crust than first anticipated and thus the resulting tsunami wasn't as devastating as it very well could have been. While writing this 5 people are reported dead, but I am not so sure about the source of that information (only from news media).

The Solomon islands in the Pacific Ocean are situated right smack on the Ring of Fire - a 'ring' formed by tectonic plates meeting and rubbing up against each other. Along the Ring of Fire there is a lot going on in terms of earthquakes and volcanic eruptions easily spotted on maps with historic data of tectonic activity.