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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Why doesn't the percentage of oxygen in Earth's atmosphere diminish significantly with altitude?

According to numerous sources online, the percentage of oxygen is approximately the same at sea level and 10,000 meters. Since oxygen is heavier than nitrogen, shouldn't the percentage of oxygen ...
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Extended sound of thunder

Why does the sound of thunder last several seconds even when lightning lasts for only fraction of a second?
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How is it that the Earth's atmosphere is not “blown away”?

The Earth moves at a high rate of speed around the Sun, and the solar system is moving quickly around the Milky Way. How is it that the Earth's atmosphere is not “blown away”?
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The Density of Clouds

Clouds are made up of tiny water or ice droplets, depending on temperature. This implies that cloud density is greater than that of dry air. Why don't clouds sink through their surrounding atmosphere ...
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Why do clouds fly? [duplicate]

I know it's probably the most stupid question there is, but why do they fly are the clouds lighter than air? What's keeping those tiny ice structures floating miles about the ground? I've been looking ...
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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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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 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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Why do the terrestrial planets have many of the same gases in their atmospheres?

While the gases are present in very different abundances, and the atmospheres have very different pressures, Earth, Mars and Venus all have a similar cast of gases: nitrogen, argon, CO2, others in ...
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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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What would happen if the polar ice caps of Mars melted?

My dad told me that Mars' polar ice caps are made of H2O and CO2. If they melt, would it add an atmosphere to Mars and allow life?
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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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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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Do we have 2 minutes of extra morning?

my physics teacher told me about the refraction and its applications one of them was 2 minutes of early sunrise and after she explained this effect she concluded that days are 2 minutes longer than ...
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'Hole in the clouds' in the Sarychev Peak eruption

One of my favourite ever pictures taken from space is a picture of the 2009 eruption of Sarychev Peak (Ostrov Matua island, Japan) taken by an ISS astronaut during a lucky fly-over. Image Source: ...
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What is the reason of the semidiurnal pressure oscillation in the atmosphere?

It appears that in many (most) places on earth, a pressure oscillation of a 100-200 Pa takes place twice a day : that is, with maxima around 12AM and 12PM and minima around 6AM and 6PM. I've found ...
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How does the atmospheric UVB attenuation of terrestrial planets compare?

On Earth, UVB (280nm - 315nm or 320nm depending on the source) undergoes extensive attenuation through the atmosphere, when observed at the planet's surface, as illustrated below: Image source ...
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How loud would a sound have to be to be heard around the world?

I'm reading the book Cosmos by Carl Sagan, and in it he states: Striking the Earth's atmosphere, a modest cometary fragment would produce a great radiant fireball and a mighty blast wave, which ...
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Can a small change in the Earth temperature give rise to large-scale climate changes?

Earth's atmosphere is a chaotic system. In such systems arbitrarily small changes the conditions can give rise to very large effects. There are many rumors about the physical and large scale ...
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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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Why is getting a tan in the evening less likely than getting a tan in the morning?

When I was young I read one book in which is written that you get more tan on the morning than on evening even light angle from Sun to Earth is the same. Don't remember exact reason, I think because ...
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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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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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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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Is long-term weather forecast impossible in principle?

This question can be asked about any chaotic dynamical system, but hydrodynamics of the atmosphere makes it more concrete. Arnold describes his 1966 result as follows: I have calculated the ...
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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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Why is the sky blue: For a 3-year old [duplicate]

My nephew asked me yesterday why the sky was blue. I tried to explain it to him as best and as dumbly I could, but I failed. I tried to explain the concept of scattering of light using an analogy of ...
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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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Why is the sky of the moon always dark?

Why is the sky of the moon always dark compared to the sky of the earth, doesn't it have day and night like earth?
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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 space black? [duplicate]

We on earth see the space black only at night. But on moon it observed that the space is black in both day and night even though the source is same for both ( the sun).Why? And also there are many ...
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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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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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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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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 do 2.4GHz frequencies offer greater range than 5GHz routers?

I would've thought that as 5GHz is a higher frequency, and it carries more energy, it would be able to pass through walls much more easily compared to a 2.4GHz frequency- similar to how short ...
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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 ...