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53

The atmosphere rotates along with the Earth for the same reason you do. Force isn't needed to make something go. That's a basic law of physics - that a thing that's moving will just keep moving if there's no force on it. Force is needed either to make something change its speed, or to make its motion point in a new direction. A force can do both or just ...


50

(photograph credit: Efram Goldberg) [Note: left-most ampule is cooled to -196°C and covered by a white layer of frost.] $NO_2$ is a good example of a colorful gas. $N_2O_4$ (colorless) exists in equillibrium with $NO_2$. At lower temperature (left in Wikipedia photo), $N_2O_4$ is favored, while at higher temperature $NO_2$ is favored. For a gas to have ...


45

Clean dry air lets sunlight through; dirty moist air scatters it. Aerosols (small air borne particulate contamination) are more prominent near areas of dense population - due to power plants, cars, fires, ... These particles form nucleation sites for moisture - and these small water drops become very effective scatterers of sunlight. The humidity is high ...


37

Have a look at the Wikipedia article on raindrop formation. You'll also find lots of articles on raindrop formation and growth by Googling raindrop formation or something like that. Raindrops do coalesce, but they also fragment, and the eventual size is a balance of the two processes. The fragmentation occurs because of the forces from turbulent air flow. ...


37

First of all, gas molecules are not invisible. There are plenty of elements whose gaseous state is quite colored, but these (iodine, e.g.) are in such rare amounts in the atmosphere that the net effect is not discernable to the eye. Next, if you Google for "atmospheric transmission curves," you'll see all sorts of spectral absorption going on, again at ...


31

Yes, most certainly, and meteorologists call this kind of rain Virga (see Wikipedia page of the same name). These are the salient and more interesting points of the Wiki article: Often it is falling ice crystals that undergo compressional heating as the fall from greater heights, where the pressure is very low; It is very common in desert and temperate ...


31

like even when light gets on the moon why does the space appears dark from the moon? For the same reason it appears dark from the Earth (when flying at an altitude of 80,000 feet or so): Image credit: View from the SR-71 Blackbird. The fact is, we can't 'see space' from the Earth's surface during the day because the atmosphere is 'in the way'- the ...


29

The short answer is -- there are bands! They behave very similar to the bands on Jupiter, but are not as pronounced. And we don't have a really unappealing colored atmosphere to show us what the bands look like. Here is an example of what they look like (source): There are two bands along each side of the equator. Another set of bands starts 30 degrees ...


29

The atmosphere of the Earth is mainly composed of nitrogen (N2, 78%) and oxygen (O2, 21%) molecules, which together make up about 99% of its total volume. The remaining 1% contains all sorts of other stuff like argon, water and carbon dioxide, but let's ignore those for now. As you probably know, the oxygen we breathe is produced by plants from water and ...


28

This is from the Physics FAQ article that I wrote 15 years ago: If shorter wavelengths are scattered most strongly, then there is a puzzle as to why the sky does not appear violet, the colour with the shortest visible wavelength. The spectrum of light emission from the sun is not constant at all wavelengths, and additionally is absorbed by the high ...


28

In general, the sun's light (particularly the UV that causes sunburn) has to pass through a lot more atmosphere (or a greater amount of air mass) in the morning and evening to get to a vertical surface than it does when it is at zenith to a horizontal surface. An example is shown in the generalised image below (all graphs are obviously generalised): The ...


26

The sky does not skip over the green range of frequencies. The sky is green. Remove the scattered light from the Sun and the Moon and even the starlight, if you so wish, and you'll be left with something called airglow (check out the link, it's awesome, great pics, and nice explanation). Because the link does such a good job explaining airglow, I'll skip ...


24

The moon does have a night and a day, but this isn't as fully connected to your question as you might think. The moon is tidally locked with the earth, meaning that the same side always faces earth. Since the moon also orbits around the earth (with a period of a lunar month), this means each side changes, over the course of a lunar month, between facing ...


23

The phenomenon is called Mirage (EDIT: I called it Fata Morgana earlier, but a Fata Morgana is a special case of mirage that's a bit more complex). The responsible effect is the dependence of the refractive index of air on the density of air, which, in turn, depends on the temperature of the air (hot air being less dense than cold air). A non-constant ...


21

Aircraft rely on lift generated by interacting with the atmosphere and on using atmospheric oxygen to burn with fuel they carry. Orbits aren't stable until you are high enough that there isn't enough atmosphere to interact with, and long before that the oxygen content drops too low to be useful. So, to get to a stable orbit, you will need rockets ...


21

Friction AKA wind resistance. You must have tried to stand in a strong wind or stuck you hand out the window of a traveling vehicle. From that you can feel the force that moving air exerts on objects in its way, and by Newton's law of reaction things in the way exert an equal force tending to move the air up to speed with the ground near it. Even if the ...


20

There are at least two reasons: the air layer adjacent to the Earth surface is dragged with it (being at rest with it). air viscosity -- it could be thought as a friction between different air layers. Upper layers are carried along by underlying layers. If the air were to stop suddenly it would result in ~1500 km/h wind speed. For comparison Hurricane ...


20

According to Opacity of an Ionized Gas, "light from regions [of the sun] where the pressure is greater than 0.01 atm. is cut off completely, so that all we see comes from a spherical shell of rarefied gas". There is no real surface of the Sun. Instead, the density and pressure of gas/plasma progressively increase from an infinitesimal value far from the ...


19

Yes, helium can leave the Earth, and yes, we will run out of helium, but because of different reasons. When you buy a helium balloon and its contents get released, this helium goes into the atmosphere. It isn't gone, and it could in principle be purified out of normal air. However, the total amount of helium in the atmosphere is so small it is ...


19

Note well: What we perceive as color is bit of a tricky subject. This is a different question, one that has been asked and answered multiple times at this site. Per the typical human eye response, sunlight at the top of the atmosphere is about as "white" as "white" can be. Some of that incoming sunlight is reflected back into space, some is absorbed by the ...


19

As you have probably noticed, the moon is tidally locked with the earth so that we always see the same side. You can look up in the sky and watch sunlight move across the moon's face. From the surface of the moon this change in illumination would look just like the day/night cycle on Earth ... except that it's roughly a month long. Until the advent of radar ...


18

Average human body volume = 0.0664 $m^3$ (seems low to me, but that's according to Wolfram Alpha: http://www.wolframalpha.com/input/?i=volume+human+body). Density of air depends on temperature and pressure, but is about 1.2 or 1.3 $kg/m^3$. That means we displace, on average, about 80 g of air, giving us a buoyancy of about 0.8 N (about 1/6 lb). The ...


18

That's a good question and I think the answer may surprise you. It turns out that indeed, there's a lot of gamma ray radiation being produced in the sun's core from fusion reactions, so why are we not bombarded by gamma ray radiation? Those gamma ray photons need to escape from the sun's core, into the outer edge, and then finally from the surface. These ...


17

There are a lot of factors that go into whether or not a planet has an atmosphere. First, the mass and size of the planet. Really what it comes down to is the escape velocity. The higher the escape velocity (ve), the easier it is for a planet (or moon) to retain any atmosphere it gets as the gases that make up the atmosphere have to be moving faster to ...


16

As has been said by many answers; all gases aren't colourless, for example chlorine gas is a pale yellow; which is a good things as its very dangerous. So the gases in our atmosphere are colourless. But this is completely the wrong way round to look at it. If our eyes operated at frequencies that were blocked by gases in the atmosphere they wouldn't work ...


16

Molecules in the outermost layers of the atmosphere are always reaching escape velocity - but there is sufficient statistical fluctuation that you will never, ever be able to demonstrate that your shout made a particular molecule escape. Let's do some math. Assuming that your sound wave is still a sound wave (rather than a shock wave) when it leaves your ...


15

I doubt if anyone has come up with a complete explanation, but some laboratory simulations have created similar patterns. They happen if the central and surrounding areas in a flat, circular disk of fluid have different velocities. Emily Lakdawalla at The Planetary Society covers it at this site. She also explains how other patterns (triangles & ...


15

What you are seeing in those images is an ice halo. A halo is an optical phenomenon produced by ice crystals. Many can be observed while looking at the Sun or the Moon. To be precise, they are produced by the ice crystals in cirrus clouds high in the upper troposphere, at an altitude between 5 kilometres and 10 kilometres. The particular shape and ...


15

If you were to surround the atmosphere by an adiabatic envelope and allow it to come to equilibrium, it probably would settle into such a state. However, the atmosphere is not a static place. It is actively mixed due to heating of the ground by the sun, and by cooling of the upper atmosphere by radiation into space. This makes the surface air less dense than ...


15

Your first inclination is correct. It's a matter of scale. Jupiter is HUGE. I'll resist quoting Douglas Adams here, but the human brain just isn't equipped to deal with those sort of dimensions. Add to that the distance from which that photograph was taken. You are actually beyond the orbit of the moon Io in that picture, so scale will be even more set ...



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