The study of the composition or dynamics of the gaseous layers around planets, often applied to questions on Earth's atmosphere but can be applicable to all planets & moons in the solar system.

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Calculating Atmospheric Pressure on an Imaginary Planet

I am planning a series of science fiction novels that take place on an imaginary binary planet system. Both planets have a lower surface gravity than the Earth and one has slightly more mass than the ...
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What determines the apparent radius of the rainbow?

Let's say I know how to compute the apparent radius of a rainbow from the viewpoint of the observer: take a photo of the scene, measure the distance to a known reference object, and its dimensions. ...
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Does the moon affect the Earth's climate?

So, this morning I was talking to a friend about astronomical observations, and he told me that lately there has only been good weather when there was a full moon in the sky, which was a shame. I ...
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Weather forecasting with coffee bubbles

The other day I saw this life-hack: And I was wondering how true it is. First of all, I always thought(listening to weather forecasts) that low-pressure atmosphere is what correlates with rain; ...
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Is the total mass of Earth's atmosphere essentially constant in time?

Per a few questions and comments on this site such as Huge buildings affect earth's rotation? I wonder, is the mass of the Earth's atmosphere roughly constant? We're burning an incredible amount ...
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How does humidity affect the path of a bullet?

Background Last night, I was reading the FM 23-10 (The U.S. army official field manual for sniper training), and I've noticed that they're potentially teaching snipers incorrect information. ...
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Atmospheric Circulation

What is the simplest simulatable model giving our rotating earth its 3 circulation cells (Hadley, Ferrel, Polar)? The model should also show 1 circulation cell if the earth's rotation were stopped (or ...
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Diffusion of gases in the atmosphere

Suppose that the atmosphere is composed of 21% $O_2$ and 78% $Kr$ (instead of $N_2$). Since the density of $Kr$ is greater than the density of $O_2$, the lower atmosphere (where we live) should be ...
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How come gas molecules don't settle down?

If the earth's gravity exerts a net downward gravitational force on all air molecules, how come the molecules don't eventually lose their momentum and all settle down? How is the atmosphere is still ...
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Why is the surface of Venus so hot?

Whenever I have seen Venus described, its high surface temperature is attributed to an intense greenhouse effect. This seems to make sense, as its atmosphere is roughly 96% CO2. But on Earth, the ...
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Is it possible to use a balloon to float so high in the atmosphere that you can be gravitationally pulled towards a satellite?

A recent joke on the comedy panel show 8 out of 10 cats prompted this question. I'm pretty sure the answer's no, but hopefully someone can surprise me. If you put a person in a balloon, such that ...
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What is the physical origin of scintillation?

The twinkling of stars, or scintillation, occurs because the optical path length of the atmosphere varies in both space and time due to turbulence. This means that when the wavefront from a distant ...
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Is apparent horizon curvature lesser due to refraction of light in the atmosphere?

I have encountered this claim while searching for sources answering " Can we see the curvature of earth from the top of world's tallest building? ". Wikipedia article on horizon claims (with no ...
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Bulk flow of air in a long tube between Antarctica and Australia?

I have a 5km diameter clear plastic tube which is open at each end and runs from the center of Antarctica to Lake Eyre in Australia. The tube is on the ground where it can be and at sea level on the ...
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625 views

What does the Rayleigh Phase Function tell us

I am working on some radiative transfer equations, and struggling as I'm fairly new to this field. I have read about the Rayleigh Phase Function which is: $P(\theta) = \frac{3}{4}(1 + cos^2 \theta)$ ...
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Stratospheric ship

Let's assume that we build a giant steel hull in a shape of cube with open top (2km long edge) and lift it to the top of stratosphere and then pump air out of it. Would it float on the outer layer of ...
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Refraction and scattered light for NLCs

For helping with judging NLC candidates (are they NLC or not) I have a set of formulas to calculate the minimum altitude (in km) of the candidate given an observed altitude (in degrees) of the ...
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Adiabatic expansion in the atmosphere

When an air parcel rises and cools adiabatically, it is said that there is no heat transfer as work is done on the surrounding atmosphere as the parcel expands. The parcel loses internal energy and ...
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Which current big Earth-based telescopes are equipped with adaptive optics?

I know only that the VLT is equipped with adaptive optics (AO) to bypass atmospheric distortion. Is it the only one, or have other telescopes been build with AO in the optical and infrared spectrum?
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Why is Titan able to maintain an atmosphere, and not Luna?

I just read stability of hypothetical lunar atmosphere. From the correct answer, i understand, the low escape velocity from Luna is part of the reason it is unable to retain an atmosphere. Titan ...
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What does the phrase “limb of the earth” or “atmospheric limb” mean?

What does the term limb of the earth (see this question, for example) or atmospheric limb mean? The phrase strikes me as very odd, since earth is nearly spherical. Do other planets with atmospheres ...
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Where in the atmosphere is the blue light scattered?

I have searched Wikpedia and the Physics Stack Exchange archieves, and I cannot find the answer to these two related questions. If it is, please guide me to where this information is located. If ...
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Do hail stone fall down just when it is created?

Density of ice is much higher than air. Then how can hail stone remain in earth atmosphere before they fall down ?
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Why some thunders sound deeper while others sound snappier?

Why does some thunder sound deeper and lower in pitch while others sound snappier and higher in pitch? I don't think there should be any difference between the lightnings and so the thunders sound be ...
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How can I estimate confidence intervals around the forecasted temperatures for future days?

Weather.com will happily give me temperature predictions for the next ten days, but no indication of how reliable those predictions are. So if I want to plan something for a week from today, or four ...
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Why does the sun “shine brighter” some days?

Today, the sun seems extremely bright; more dazzling than usual, and even the roads seem to be brighter so it's not just when you look up in the sky. Is more light actually getting through (perhaps ...
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Atmospheric pressure experiment using a cup with a fluid to hold a glass plate

When I was in high school, my teacher did an experiment to show the power of atmospheric pressure. Experiment: Prepare a glass bottle, fill with water, put a glass plate on the bottle, make sure ...
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Physical interpretation of the Lorenz system

The Lorenz equations $$ \frac{dx}{dt} = \sigma(y-x);\\ \frac{dy}{dt} = x(\rho-z)-y;\\ \frac{dz}{dt} = xy - \beta z $$ were (I believe) the first set of nonlinear equations known to exhibit chaotic ...
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Why don't different air masses mix immediately?

In meteorology, the atmosphere is considered to be divided into air masses, regions of relatively uniform temperature and humidity with fronts on their borders. But why doesn't the air from different ...
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Attenuation mass-thickness for sunset light

We are able to look directly at the sun near sunset and sunrise, which clearly demonstrates the fact that our atmosphere attenuates visible light. Let's imagine it follows the typical attenuation ...
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Keeping air in a giant gravitationally-bound space balloon

Let's say a space-faring society wants to make a space station that has a large volume filled with air (or other gas), but no gravity. Using normal pressure tanks will require gathering an amount of ...
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Estimating hydrogen loss by Jeans escape

I'm looking at Jeans (thermal) escape of hydrogen from the early Earth's atmosphere. I understand how to calculate the rate in (g cm^-2 s^-1) using the number density, average particle velocity, and ...
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248 views

Is this a Fata Morgana?

I took this photo. Above the horizon there is a thick layer that looks like a cloud, but it surely isn't. Is this a Fata Morgana? What do you think? EDIT: I think the more appropriate name is ...
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How about retrodiction, if climate prediction is difficult?

What I mean by the question is if retrodiction has been attempted back to, say, 50 or 100 years starting with the presently known state of climate as initial conditions using the same equations and ...
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Predominant light frequency over the day?

I'm not well-versed in physics, so I hope you'll forgive me if this question is significantly off the mark. I'm interested in the predominant frequencies of light over the course of one day. My ...
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431 views

Mean optical depth in plane parallel atmospheres

I have the second edition of Houghton's "The Physics of Atmospheres". In section 2.2 he says one can do simple radiative transfer calculations in a plane parallel atmosphere by assuming that there ...
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Can a hovering helicopter travel half the globe in 12 hours? [duplicate]

Suppose we have a helicopter that is able to stay stationary in flight for extended periods of time. If such a helicopter stayed at point A in the sky for 12 hours straight, would it reach the other ...
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Can extra-solar gamma rays reach the Earth's surface?

Can gamma rays of high enough energy entering our planet's atmosphere reach the surface (50% probability)? Or, in other words, is there a window for extremely high-energy gamma rays like for the ...
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Why the shape of rainbow is semicircular after rain why not the whole atmosphere is colorful?

I have a very simple question. Everyone must have seen the rainbow after rain. According to the theory the rainbow is created due to the passing of sunlight from small drops of water in the ...
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555 views

How many oxygen molecules touch you in your lifetime?

Following up on a comment by BlueRaja to this beautiful answer of Ilmari Karonen, I would like to phrase this follow up question: How many air molecules hit your average human's skin during their ...
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The visibility of air

For pilots of gliders or sailplanes, the 'thermal' is the most important phenomena of the air. A thermal is classically described as an upward flow of air caused by ground level heating of air that ...
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What is the temperature of the clear night sky from the surface of Earth?

Before you all jump in with 2.73 K or thereabouts, this is more of an experimental question. It will obviously depend on humidity and radiation being scattered back towards the surface of the Earth. ...
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Why does the Sun turn red near sunset?

At daytime the Sun's light is yellowish if not near white. Why when the Sun starts to go down that it's light turn more red. I don't think the earth's rotation is so rapid to cause a red shift. Why ...
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Why can spacecraft observe terrestrial gamma rays, but terrestrial observers not observe extraterrestrial galactic rays?

For the observation of solar or galactic gamma rays, one should ideally be above the atmosphere. Quoting the Wikipedia article on Gamma-ray astronomy: Most gamma rays coming from space are ...
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Do asteroids create sonic boom while entering the atmosphere?

Because of the lack of any materials to propagate sound, it can't spread in space. There's the air in the atmosphere, but its volume mass increases constantly (either linear or exponential, I don't ...
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Why does air contain $Ar$ specifically?

Air consists roughly of $N_2$, $O_2$ and $Ar$. Why is $Ar$ the relatively common noble gas compound and not for example the lighter ones $He$ or $Ne$?
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How can I calculate Vapor Pressure Deficit from Temperature and Relative Humidity?

I have a series of measurements of temperature and relative humidity (RH), together with mosquito capture data. Because mosquitoes are sensitive to desiccation, it's reasonable that RH may be useful ...
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What weathering mechanism leads to reduction of Carbon Dioxide in the atmosphere?

Wikipedia says: The global temperature of the Earth will climb because of the rising luminosity of the Sun, the rate of weathering of silicate minerals will increase. This in turn will decrease ...
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How do you calculate vortex shedding frequency?

I am attempting to try to find out if there is any effect of Von Karman vortices on a group of wind speed readings where it is presumed that due to a mountain nearby the data collection spot Von ...
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Assuming that the Sun wouldn't evolve into a red giant, how long would the Earth's atmosphere last?

It's not going to last forever - Jeans Escape is going to eventually act on the atmosphere after trillions of trillions of years: see http://faculty.washington.edu/dcatling/Catling2009_SciAm.pdf