A new cloud species, a fluorescent tree frog, and other amazing images of the week

Newsworthy eye candy

Sunny side up

No, this isn’t an ad for futuristic spot-reducing makeup. These are two images of our sun, with and without magnetic interference. As Popular Science explained earlier this week, the sunspots seen in the image on the left are created as pores of plasma cool certain parts of the sun’s surface, while the rest is still blazing at unimaginable heat. From March 7 to 22, NASA observed the longest span of spotlessness since 2010, as seen on the right. It’s not just a pretty image, it has real consequences on Earth. When the sun’s behavior changes, conditions on Earth can change too, like the “little ice age” brought on by a veritable sunspot marathon in the late 1600s.

Snow blanket

This true color satellite image shows most of the northeastern United States covered in snow. Scientists took three different color-sensitive channels from the VIIRS camera, which is attached to the Suomi NPP satellite, and combined them into one stunning image. The snow stretches across the region, coating three of the Great Lakes on the upper left to Long Island, New York, as it juts into the Atlantic in the bottom right. This is just one small sample of VIIRS’ catalog; the machine orbits the Earth twice a day, scanning for vegetation, clouds, smoke, and other environmental factors along the way.

Wakulla County, FL

Volutus clouds are long, tube-shaped, and seem to rotate around the horizontal axis such that they look like they’re rolling. They’re the newly recognized species of cloud, but only occur in altocumulus and stratocumulus types (the ‘cumulus’ suffix means they’re both puffy). This stratocumulus volutus is unusual in that it has layers, much like ogres and onions, where normally it would be smooth and rounded.

Thar she blows

Those red lines in the darkness on the left may seem little in this image from the International Space Station, but they aren’t so tiny on Earth. That’s Mount Etna, Europe’s most active volcano as it’s throwing a beautiful—and terrifying—fit. An active stratovolcano on Sicily’s eastern coast, Etna has been putting on light shows like this for thousands of years. While most of her previous damage has been to property, not people, an eruption on March 16 injured 10 after magma and snow collided, spewing rocks into the air. Safe to say, she still doesn’t have the power to reach the crew aboard the ISS, who are orbiting about 220 miles above Earth.

He got the green light

This little guy is the world’s first fluorescent tree frog that we’ve ever discovered and, as Popular Science reported earlier this week, he probably doesn’t even know his own smolder. The super frog’s skin takes in ultraviolet light and sends it back out in the bright green fluorescent form pictured here. He’s the newest addition to an elaborate secret society of glowers that spans land, but mostly sea, and includes fluorescent parrot mating marks and bioluminescent anglerfish.