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What if you could see the sound of a nightingale?

Andy Thomas of Australia is a multimedia artist, who makes 3D animations of bird songs. He calls them “audio life forms.”

At Iceland volcano, a white plume rises from the lava fountains

White plume from the active fissure at Holuhraun in Iceland.

White plume from the active fissure at Holuhraun in Iceland.

UPDATE SEPTEMBER 2, 2014. A white plume, with a blue tint below, rose from the active fissure at Holuhraun in Iceland, which stretches to the northeast from Iceland’s Bárðarbunga volcano. The Holuhraun fissure fields have been erupting with high lava fountains since Sunday morning (August 31), with no apparent release of ash. Yesterday’s observed plume was the first such plume to be seen. It drifted east-northeast with a maximum height yesterday of 15,000 feet from the eruptive site. The plume formed a cloud with very sharp edges at the top and below, said the Icelandic Met Office (IMO), which added:

It didn‘t seem that any ash came from the cloud. The white color of the plume does not suggest any ash.

Star of the week: Alpha Cephei is a rapidly rotating star

Astornomers used the CHARA array to learn the inclination, polar and equatorial radius and temperature, as well as the fractional rotation speed of Alpha Cephei.  Read about this work here.

Astronomers used the CHARA array at Georgia State University – optical interferometer – to learn the inclination, polar and equatorial radius and temperature, as well as the rotation speed of Alpha Cephei. Read about this work here.

The constellation Cepheus the King is not terribly conspicuous and can boast of only one relatively star. That star is Alderamin – aka Alpha Cephei – which is by far the brightest star in Cepheus, lighting up one corner of an otherwise faint house-shaped pattern of stars. While not one of the most conspicuous stars in the night sky, this star is easy to spot, and it is interesting for its rapid rotation on its axis. Follow the links inside to learn more about Alderamin, aka Alpha Cephei.

The first known example of Neanderthal rock art

These lines scratched into a cave might be proof that Neanderthals had more intellectual capacity than previously thought.   Some experts claim they're the first known examples of Neanderthal rock art.

These lines scratched into a cave might be proof that Neanderthals had more intellectual capacity than previously thought. Some experts claim they’re the first known examples of Neanderthal rock art.

To the eye of a modern Internet user, it looks like nothing so much as a hashtag … #neanderthalsrock! But experts say this cross-hatched impression in the rock of Gorham’s Cave in Gibraltar represents the first known example of rock art by Neanderthals. More, they say it represents Neanderthals’ capacity for abstract expression.

Andromeda Galaxy

Photo credit: Tom Wildoner

Photo credit: Tom Wildoner

Beautiful shot of M31 – closest large spiral galaxy to our Milky Way – by our friend Tom Wildoner.

Orion the Hunter well up before dawn in September

Orion is noticeable for his three medium-bright Belt stars.  Look for this short, straight row of three stars high in the east before dawn.

Orion is noticeable for his three medium-bright Belt stars. Look for this short, straight row of three stars high in the east before dawn.

Orion the Hunter is always behind the sun as seen from Earth in June. It comes back to the predawn sky every year in late July. By early September, Orion is rising in the wee hours and is well up in the southeast an hour before dawn, as shown on today’s chart. Orion will soon be up by midnight, then 10 p.m. … and by December you’ll find it rising in early evening.

September 2014 guide to the five visible planets

Skywatcher, by Predrag Agatonovic.

Skywatcher, by Predrag Agatonovic.

Mars and Saturn appear at nightfall. Watch for them near the moon on August 31 and September 1. From southerly latitudes, you can also view Mercury near the sunset horizon. The morning planets are Jupiter and Venus.

Death Valley sliding stone mystery solved

The video above shows a famous sliding stone of Death Valley’s Racetrack Playa in motion. See it? It’s the big rock in the foreground. Watching this video, you become one of the first people on Earth to see a sliding stone in motion. Although their tracks across Racetrack Playa – a dry lake bed in Death Valley – have been observed and studied since the early 1900s, no one had ever seen the stones in motion … until now. What’s more, the researchers who captured this video say they now know what causes the stones to move.

This date in science: Pioneer 11 swept past Saturn

Image credit:  NASA/Ames

Image credit: NASA/Ames

September 1, 1979. On this date, NASA’s Pioneer 11 came within 13,000 miles (21,000 kilometers) of Saturn, making it the first spacecraft ever to sweep closely past that place. The spacecraft found a new ring for Saturn – now called the “F” ring – and also a new moon, Epimetheus. There were two Pioneer spacecraft. They were used to investigate Saturn’s rings and determine if a trajectory through the rings was safe for the upcoming Voyager visits. They paved the way for the even-more-sophisticated Voyager spacecraft, which were launched in 1977.

Fav photos of last night’s moon, Saturn and Mars

Vegastar Carpentier in France used a telescope to capture this view of Saturn (above) and the moon.

Vegastar Carpentier in France used a telescope to capture this view of Saturn (above) and the moon.

Did you see the moon near the planets Saturn and Mars Sunday evening? Thanks to all EarthSky friends who captured and shared these beautiful images.