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.

learn more… | top users | synonyms (1)

48
votes
8answers
23k views

Why does the atmosphere rotate along with the earth?

I was reading somewhere about a really cheap way of travelling: using balloons to get ourselves away from the surface of the earth. The idea held that because the earth rotates, we should be ...
7
votes
5answers
1k views

What would ACTUALLY happen to a person jettisoned into space?

[insert obligatory statement of my lack of knowledge in physics] Alright, so we have all seen the movies where someone gets blasted out of the airlock on their starship, or their suit decompresses ...
32
votes
3answers
6k views

Why is the sky not purple?

I realise the question of why this sky is blue is considered reasonably often here, one way or another. You can take that knowledge as given. What I'm wondering is, given that the spectrum of ...
7
votes
2answers
4k views

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 ...
13
votes
1answer
2k views

From how high could have Felix Baumgartner jumped without disintegrating like a shooting star?

Today Felix Baumgartner jumped from 39 kilometres high and reached the earth safely. Just considering friction, from how high can a human jump? I expect that from a certain height, he would have ...
12
votes
4answers
32k views

Why does the road look like it's wet on hot days?

Often, I'll be driving down the road on a summer day, and as I look ahead toward the horizon, I notice that the road looks like there's a puddle of water on it, or that it was somehow wet. Of course, ...
5
votes
3answers
4k views

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 ...
15
votes
10answers
4k views

Why do space crafts take off with rockets instead of just ascending like an aircraft until they reach space?

I guess it's not a very educated question, but I never quite understood why spacecrafts have to shoot up and can't just reach space by simply continuing an upwards ascent like an airplane.
4
votes
1answer
283 views

Do atmospheric physics prevent hot air balloons from ascending over 60,000ft?

I was reading the altitude records for hot air balloons on Wikipedia, and noted that the max hot air balloon altitude was about 60,000ft. It didn't really say if there was a reason why. I know that ...
2
votes
2answers
570 views

Why is the atmosphere transparent in the visible spectrum?

One of the great coincidences in physics is that the Sun happens to shine most brightly at exactly the wavelengths our eyes can see; it's an easy explanation that our eyes evolved to make the most out ...
13
votes
2answers
368 views

Why is Jupiter so sharply defined?

In photographs of Jupiter, the limb seems extremely definite. Being a gas giant, my naive self thinks that the atmosphere should have a more gradual cut off, creating a hazy effect similar to that on ...
7
votes
2answers
1k views

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. ...
1
vote
5answers
1k views

What experiments prove the greenhouse effect?

What experiments prove the greenhouse effect? I've read a little on wikipedia but I've got only some names but not their experiments.
12
votes
2answers
347 views

How are the northern lights produced?

Although I've never seen it myself, I hear the northern lights are a sight to be seen! I know they're related to the Earth's magnetic field but I don't know much more about them. What is the physical ...
11
votes
4answers
4k views

Why can't CO2 mix back with the liquid after a soda bottle has been shaken?

If you shake a soda bottle before opening it, and then open it, you get the fizz. That is the compressed CO2 releasing to the atmosphere which is at comparatively low pressure value. Two questions ...
9
votes
1answer
408 views

What causes a ring-like image around light of the moon?

I just encountered an interesting image in sky. As you can see in following images there was a ring-like image around light of the moon. I don't know if it was clouds but it was looking like it is far ...
9
votes
4answers
11k views

How does carbon dioxide or water vapour absorb thermal infra red radiation from the sun?

We are all told at school water vapour and carbon dioxide are the top two greenhouse gases, and that they absorb thermal infra red radiation, trap heat and warm up the Earth. My question is how do ...
6
votes
2answers
344 views

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 ...
4
votes
1answer
339 views

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 ...
2
votes
3answers
331 views

Why does the wind direction vary locally?

If the air is flowing with the earth, as it rotates, how do we feel a breeze and strong winds at times, as everyone has experienced, the wind shifts as if from many directions.
0
votes
2answers
2k views

Why the pressure of atmosphere doesn't crush you when you e.g. walk outside?

Why the pressure of atmosphere doesn't crush you when you e.g. walk outside? I mean the density of air is $1.26 kg/m^3$, so with $100 km$ above us, it exerts much pressure on you when you walk ...
20
votes
3answers
828 views

Are the air particles in today's wind on earth (more or less) the same as the air 2/3 billion years ago?

So the air pressure on earth remains relatively constant, right? Is there air gained or lost through transitions of any sort? e.g. plumes going out into space, earth gaining new air particles with ...
26
votes
2answers
3k views

Why is the sun brighter in Australia compared to parts of Asia?

Background: I've lived in Philippines for several years, and visited other parts of Asia occasionally (Singapore, Indonesia, Hongkong). I just moved to Western Australia a few months ago and I ...
7
votes
2answers
800 views

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 ...
15
votes
2answers
1k views

Why does my infrared thermometer say the sky is at -2 °C?

I just got myself an infrared thermometer. I wouldn't have been able to predict what temperature it would give me when pointing at the sky, but it turned out to be -2 °C the first time I measured, and ...
7
votes
4answers
560 views

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 ...
3
votes
1answer
162 views

Keeping air in a well

Let's say I've got an Earth-like planet with no atmosphere: it's just a barren ball of rock. I want to live there, but I don't like domes, so instead I'm just going to dig a big hole and let gravity ...
8
votes
3answers
938 views

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”?
8
votes
3answers
385 views

Extended sound of thunder

Why does the sound of thunder last several seconds even when lightning lasts for only fraction of a second?
6
votes
4answers
2k views

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 ...
6
votes
2answers
352 views

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 ...
5
votes
1answer
101 views

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 ...
5
votes
1answer
516 views

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 ...
4
votes
1answer
530 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 ...
4
votes
3answers
255 views

stability of hypothetical lunar atmosphere

Assume that by some means, the moon could be given an atmosphere, of the same density and pressure at the surface as the earth's. Obviously in a stable atmosphere there are temperature variations from ...
3
votes
3answers
78 views

Why does the air pressure at the surface of the earth exactly equal the weight of the entire air column above it

Why does the air pressure at the surface of the earth (resulting from collisions of molecules on the surface of the earth which has to do with the velocity of the particles) exactly equal the weight ...
3
votes
2answers
201 views

Loopy lightning

What causes lightning to follow the path it does ? picture from BBC news: http://news.bbcimg.co.uk/media/images/62891000/jpg/_62891901_untitled-1copy.jpg main page: ...
3
votes
3answers
905 views

x-ray interaction with atmosphere

Why x-ray are stopped by atmosphere while they are more energetic than UV or IR? They certainly interact with atmosphere but I can't understand which phenomenon stop them.
2
votes
2answers
82 views

Does the gravitational acceleration change value with height?

My prof asked me to do a graphic of a given function and I have to just to vary the gravitational acceleration $g$ and the height $H$. If I know the interval in which $H$ is defined :$[500,2000]m$, ...
-1
votes
1answer
61 views

Determine the number of days with North-East wind direction from the number of days with North and East wind direction? [closed]

I have some data like: Wind flow from north direction = “X” Numbers of days. Wind flow from east direction = “Y” Numbers of days. Then is there any formula to know numbers of days wind flows ...