Friday, 10 February 2017

Lost Ancient Forests

Diver Dawn Watson found incredible ancient forest under the North Sea
10,000-year-old trees appear to have been hidden underwater since Ice Age
The 45-year-old discovered oak trees with eight-metre branches off Norfolk.
A shocked diver has found an incredible 10,000-year-old pre-historic forest under the North Sea and experts believe it could have once stretched as far as Europe.
Diver Dawn Watson, 45, discovered the remarkable 'lost forest' when she was diving just 300 metres off the coast of Cley next the Sea, Norfolk.
Ms Watson, who runs the Marine Conservation Society's survey project, Seasearch in East Anglia with partner Rob Spray, said she was 'absolutely thrilled' with the find.
She said: 'I couldn't believe what I was seeing at first.
'The sea was quite rough by the shore so I decided to dive slightly further out and after swimming over 300 metres of sand I found a long blackened ridge.
'When I looked more closely I realised it was wood, and when I swam further along, I started finding whole tree trunks with branches on top, which looked like they had been felled.'

'It was amazing to find and to think the trees had been lying there completely undiscovered for thousands of years. You certainly don't expect to go out for a quick dive and find a forest.'
It is believed the forest was drowned when the ice caps melted and the sea level rose 120 metres.
The fallen trees are now lying on the ground where they have formed a natural reef, which is teaming with colourful fish, plants and wildlife.

'At one time it would have been a full-blown Tolkien-style forest, stretching for hundreds of miles,' added Mr Spray, who has begun surveying the forest with his partner.
'It would have grown and grown and in those days there would have been no one to fell it so the forest would have been massive.
How it could have looked
'It would have looked like a scene from the Hobbit or Lord of the Rings, which is something we don't get in this country anymore. Geologists are very excited about it, it was a really miraculous find.'
Ancient forest lost beneath the North Sea is uncovered: Shifting sands reveal 7,000-year-old woodland and human footprints.
Evidence of the forest, which has been preserved in peat, can be seen on a 200-metre stretch of the Northumberland coastline - Denmark, due to shifting sand - It shows 7,000 year old human footprints in Doggerland, which then connected the UK to Europe - The area had been preserved in a layer of peat all these years.
The ebb and flow of the North Sea revealed a waterlogged archaeological secret of Britain's past - traces of hunter-gatherers stalking animals through a long-lost woodland.
An ancient forest, which dates back more than 7,000 years and has lain buried beneath the sand for millennia, is slowly being uncovered by the ocean.
Tree stumps and felled logs, which have been preserved by peat and sand, are now clearly visible along a 650 feet (200 metres) stretch of coastline at Low Hauxley near Amble, Northumberland.
Studies of the ancient forest, which existed at a time when the sea level was much lower and Britain had only recently separated from what is now mainland Denmark, have revealed it would have consisted of oak, hazel and alder trees.
The forest first began to form around 5,300 BC but by 5,000 BC the encroaching ocean had covered it up and buried it under sand. Now the sea levels are rising again, the remnants of the forest are becoming visible and being studied by archaeologists.
Rather than a continuous solid landmass, archaeologists believe Doggerland was a region of low-lying bogs and marshes which would have been home to a range of animals, as well as the hunter-gatherers which stalked them.
But the relatively rapid change in the surrounding environment would have gradually confined animals and humans in the region to Europe and the UK as the bogs and marshes became flooded, making them impassable.
Doctor Clive Waddington, of Archaeology Research Services, said: 'In 5,000 BC the sea level rose quickly and it drowned the land.
'The sand dunes were blown back further into the land, burying the forest, and then the sea receded a little.
'The sea level is now rising again, cutting back the sand dunes, and uncovering the forest.'
The forest existed in the late Mesolithic period, which was a time of hunting and gathering for humans.
In addition to tree stumps, archaeologists say they have uncovered animal footprints, highlighting the diverse wildlife which would have roamed the ancient Doggerland forest.
Dr Waddington, who says evidence has been discovered of humans living nearby in 5,000 BC, added: 'On the surface of the peat we have found footprints of adults and children.
'We can tell by the shapes of the footprints that they would have been wearing leather shoes.
'We have also found animal footprints of red deer, wild boar and brown bears.'
A similar stretch of ancient forest was uncovered in 2014 near the village of Borth, Ceredigion, in Mid Wales after a spate of winter storms washed away the peat preserving the area. The ancient forests were exposed along the Welsh coastline after the storms washed away peat and exposed gnarled tree trunks on the shore near the village of Borth, Ceredigion, Mid Wales.
Seahenge, an early Bronze age structure on the coast of Norfolk, 
overlooks the ancient world of Doggerland
Rather than a continuous solid landmass, archaeologists believe Doggerland was a region of low-lying bogs and marshes connecting the British Isles to Europe and stretching all the way to the Norwegian trench. The area, which would have been home to a range of animals, as well as the hunter-gatherers which stalked them, became flooded due to glacial melt, with some high-lying regions such as 'Dogger Island' (pictured right, highlighted red) serving as clues to the region's ancient past.
Peat is able to preserve trees and even the bodies of animals so well because it is so low in oxygen, effectively choking the microbes which break down organic matter, so preserving their organic contents for thousands of years. But in coastal regions, where ancient forests have been long preserved in peat, such as in Wales and Northumberland, the rising seas are washing away this layer and exposing remnants from Britain's past.
Source HERE and HERE
Love and light,

Hundreds of ancient earthworks built in the Amazon

February 2017
 Jenny Watling
The Amazonian rainforest was transformed over two thousand years ago by ancient people who built hundreds of large, mysterious earthworks. The ditched enclosures, in Acre state in the western Brazilian Amazon, were concealed for centuries by trees. Modern deforestation has allowed the discovery of more than 450 of these large geometrical geoglyphs.

The function of these mysterious sites is still little understood - they are unlikely to be villages, since archaeologists recover very few artefacts during excavation. The layout doesn't suggest they were built for defensive reasons. It is thought they were used only sporadically, perhaps as ritual gathering places.

The structures are ditched enclosures that occupy roughly 13,000 km2. Their discovery challenges assumptions that the rainforest ecosystem has been untouched by humans.

Dr Watling said: "The fact that these sites lay hidden for centuries beneath mature rainforest really challenges the idea that Amazonian forests are 'pristine ecosystems`.

The full article will be released in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA and involved researchers from the universities of Exeter, Reading and Swansea (UK), São Paulo, Belém and Acre (Brazil). The research was funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, National Geographic, and the Natural Environment Research Council Radiocarbon Facility.

Illustrations of Undine ~ Arthur Rackham ~ August Gaber - Adalbert Mueller

Art collaboration between Adalbert Mueller and August Gaber. 
Undine is a fairy-tale novella (Erzählung) by Friedrich de la Motte Fouqué in which Undine, a water spirit, marries a knight named Huldebrand in order to gain a soul. It is an early German romance.
Illustration of Undine from 1909 ~ Arthur Rackham
Art collaboration between Adalbert Mueller and August Gaber 
The story is descended from Melusine, the French folktale of a water-sprite who marries a knight on condition that he shall never see her on Saturdays when she resumes her mermaid shape. It was also inspired by works by the occultist Paracelsus.
Illustration of Undine from 1909 ~ Arthur Rackham
Art collaboration between Adalbert Mueller and August Gaber 
An unabridged English translation of the story by William Leonard Courtney and illustrated by Arthur Rackham was published in 1909. George Macdonald thought Undine "the most beautiful" of all fairy stories, while Lafcadio Hearn referred to Undine as a "fine German story" in his essay "The Value of the Supernatural in Fiction".
Illustration of Undine from 1909 ~ Arthur Rackham
Art collaboration between Adalbert Mueller and August Gaber 
In the 1830s, the novella was translated into Russian dactylic hexameter verse by the Romantic poet Vasily Zhukovsky. This verse translation became a classic in its own right and later provided the basis for the libretto to Tchaikovsky's operatic adaptation. The novella has since inspired numerous similar adaptions in various genres and traditions.
Illustration of Undine from 1909 ~ Arthur Rackham
Art collaboration between Adalbert Mueller and August Gaber 
Love and light,

Art ~ I close my eyes to see

Gesso base ~ Watercolour crayons and pencils
Love and light,

Archaeologists find 12th Dead Sea Scrolls cave ~ 2017

February 8, 2017 by Dov Smith
Excavations in a cave on the cliffs west of Qumran, near the northwestern shore of the Dead Sea, prove that Dead Sea scrolls from the Second Temple period were hidden in the cave, and were looted by Bedouins in the middle of the last century. With the discovery of this cave, scholars now suggest that it should be numbered as Cave 12.
The surprising discovery, representing a milestone in Dead Sea Scroll research, was made by Dr. Oren Gutfeld and Ahiad Ovadia from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem's Institute of Archaeology, with the help of Dr. Randall Price and students from Liberty University in Virginia USA.
The excavators are the first in over 60 years to discover a new scroll cave and to properly excavate it.
The excavation was supported by the Civil Administration of Judea and Samaria, by the Israel Nature and Parks Authority, and the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA), and is a part of the new "Operation Scroll" launched at the IAA by its Director-General, Mr. Israel Hasson, to undertake systematic surveys and to excavate the caves in the Judean Desert.

Excavation of the cave revealed that at one time it contained Dead Sea scrolls. Numerous storage jars and lids from the Second Temple period were found hidden in niches along the walls of the cave and deep inside a long tunnel at its rear. The jars were all broken and their contents removed, and the discovery towards the end of the excavation of a pair of iron pickaxe heads from the 1950s (stored within the tunnel for later use) proves the cave was looted.
Until now, it was believed that only 11 caves had contained scrolls. With the discovery of this cave, scholars have now suggested that it would be numbered as Cave 12. Like Cave 8, in which scroll jars but no scrolls were found, this cave will receive the designation Q12 (the Q=Qumran standing in front of the number to indicate no scrolls were found).
"This exciting excavation is the closest we've come to discovering new Dead Sea scrolls in 60 years. Until now, it was accepted that Dead Sea scrolls were found only in 11 caves at Qumran, but now there is no doubt that this is the 12th cave," said Dr. Oren Gutfeld, an archaeologist at the Hebrew University's Institute of Archaeology and director of the excavation. "Although at the end of the day no scroll was found, and instead we 'only' found a piece of parchment rolled up in a jug that was being processed for writing, the findings indicate beyond any doubt that the cave contained scrolls that were stolen. The findings include the jars in which the scrolls and their covering were hidden, a leather strap for binding the scroll, a cloth that wrapped the scrolls, tendons and pieces of skin connecting fragments, and more."

The finds from the excavation include not only the storage jars, which held the scrolls, but also fragments of scroll wrappings, a string that tied the scrolls, and a piece of worked leather that was a part of a scroll. The finding of pottery and of numerous flint blades, arrowheads, and a decorated stamp seal made of carnelian, a semi-precious stone, also revealed that this cave was used in the Chalcolithic and the Neolithic periods.
Read more HERE
Original Scrolls HERE ~ a collection of some 981 different manuscripts discovered between 1946/47, 1956 and 2017 in 12 caves (Qumran Caves) in the immediate vicinity of the Hellenistic-period Jewish settlement at Khirbet Qumran in the eastern Judaean Desert, the modern West Bank.

Snow Moon ~ lunar eclipse 10th Feb' 2017

February's full moon is traditionally called the Snow Moon
Astronomy enthusiasts are in for a treat this month, as three celestial events are set to coincide, putting on a spectacular display in the night sky.

A full "Snow Moon", a lunar eclipse and a passing comet should all be visible from Earth on the same day. Anyone hoping to catch a glimpse of this rare event need only turn their eyes skywards on the night of February 10, through the to the morning of February 11.

February's Snow Moon will be no ordinary full moon for skywatchers in most parts of the world, as it coincides with a special lunar eclipse that will cast a shadow over the full moon's usual bright, glowing face. On Friday (Feb. 10), just 10 minutes after the full moon peaks, so will a penumbral lunar eclipse. The moon will spend more than 4 hours coasting through Earth's outer shadow, called the penumbra, and it will appear darker than normal.

While penumbral eclipses can be difficult to see and don't look nearly as dramatic as a total lunar eclipse — in which the moon passes through the darkest, central part of Earth's shadow — Friday's penumbral eclipse will be darker and more noticeable than most lunar eclipses of its kind. That's because the moon will veer so deeply into Earth's penumbral shadow that it will be almost entirely submerged in shade.
A penumbral lunar eclipse occurs when the Sun, Earth, and Moon align in an almost straight line.When this happens, the Earth blocks some of the Sun's light from directly reaching the Moon's surface, and covers a part of the Moon with the outer part of its shadow - also known as the penumbra.

When to see it

The moon will first enter Earth's shadow at 5:32 p.m. EST (2232 GMT), and its moonlight will slowly but surely grow dimmer for a little over 2 hours.
After the eclipse peaks at 7:43 p.m. EST (0034 GMT on Feb. 11), the bright glow of the full moon will take about another 2 hours to return to normal.
The moon will be completely outside of the penumbral shadow by 9:55 p.m. EST (0255 GMT on Feb. 11).

The Moon will rise at 16:44 GMT on the evening of February 10 and set at 07:30 the following morning. It will rise again at 17:56 GMT on February 11.

The penumbral eclipse is due to start at 22:34 GMT on February 10, peak at 00.43 on February 11, and end at 02:53.

Regardless of where you are watching it, the first and last 40 or so minutes of the eclipse will probably not be noticeable, Sky & Telescope senior editor Alan MacRobert said in a statement. "The outer part of Earth's penumbra is so pale that you won’t notice anything until the moon's edge has slid at least halfway in," MacRobert said, "so start looking about 90 minutes before mid-eclipse."
Friday's penumbral lunar eclipse will be visible from most countries of the world, with the exception of Australia, New Zealand and the East Asian countries along the Pacific coast. In the U.S., the state of Hawaii will miss out on the event.

Skywatchers across Europe, Asia, Africa and North America will all be able to see the lunar eclipse, though some regions will have a better view than others. The best places to see the eclipse from beginning to end are Europe, Africa and the eastern side of South America (including most of Brazil).
New Year Comet
Comet 45P/Honda-Mrkos-Pajdušáková is named after the astronomers who discovered it in 1948 - Minoru Honda, Antonín Mrkos, and Ľudmila Pajdušáková.

It is a periodic comet, meaning it follows a predictable path around the sun, and can be seen from Earth every five and a quarter years.It has recently been dubbed the "New Year comet" as it started its journey across northern hemisphere skies at the tail end of 2016.

The comet will be visible to the naked eye as it makes its closest approach to Earth on February 11.
Love and light,

Northern lights over UK ~ 2017

A glimpse of the spectacular Northern Lights here in the UK - thanks to a rare magnetic storm.
On the 8th February 2017, people across the UK have been enjoying the celestial display of the aurora borealis - or northern lights. The phenomenon is caused by eruptions on the surface of the Sun, and this most recent activity has been unexpectedly strong. The aurora was visible in the early hours of the morning bringing a spectacular sight to the skies above Derwent Water near Keswick in the Lake District.
If you have a picture of London's northern lights and you would like to share it in this gallery please email it to us at including your name and a caption for your picture. HERE

The northern lights are nature's very own magnificent light show. They are the mesmerising end result of electrically charged particles from the sun colliding with the Earth's upper atmosphere. Though more frequently witnessed from the polar regions, the UK and other places on similar latitudes are lucky enough for the aurora borealis to occasionally grace their night sky.

The northern lights are driven by activity on the sun and the sun's activity waxes and wanes over an 11-year period known as a solar cycle. The number of large-scale aurora events, the type that is visible from places such as the UK, tends to follow this cycle. But each solar cycle is different, with the maximum and minimum activity varying between each cycle.

The Met Office has said the Northern Lights would dazzle over Britain- just a month after the last sighting of the incredible natural phenomenon over the UK.  The magnetic storm is set to last for 48 hours, with the breathtaking colours of the Aurora Borealis expected to be more striking in the first 24 hours.

The Met Office said: “The northern lights appear as large areas of colour including pale green, pink, shades of red, yellow, blue and violet in the direction due north. During a weak aurora, the colours are very faint and spread out whereas an intense aurora features greater numbers of and brighter colours which can be seen higher in the sky with a distinct arc.

LONDON — If you happen to have looked up into the sky recently and spotted strange patterns of shifting colours, don't panic — the weird bodies of lights appearing above Britain are nacreous clouds.

"Currently, we are able to catch sight of them because cold air which usually circulates around polar regions in the stratosphere (the stratospheric polar vortex) has been displaced from its usual position over the north pole to be over the UK," a Met Office spokesperson said.

"Our weather forecast models indicate the cold polar vortex will remain nearby for the next few days, so we should be able to see Nacreous Clouds when the skies are clear."

"The position of the vortex shifts towards the end of the week taking the coldest air, and the Nacreous Clouds, away from above the UK."

BRITAIN is also on alert for the most severe winter freeze for SIX YEARS ~ snow showers to hit the UK. Forecast for the capital as temperatures plummet below freezing.
Stay Warm

Update ~ A Winter's night in London

In awe of the sky.
My back garden at 1.30 am ~ Friday 10th Feb' 2017
The brighter area is to the left of the back garden. 
I should be fast zzzzzz but needed to see if the sky got darker since 9.45pm. It's like time has paused. 
Straight ahead view.
View to the right of my garden.
Every detail is still seen on the houses, fence, grass, etc, normally I can't see anything from the back door at evening time, and my camera would only pick up pitch black. 

Thursday, 9 February 2017

A Winter's Night ~ 9.45 pm ~ London

London sky on a winter night
These incredible photos were taken after I let my dog in from the back garden. I was gobsmacked at the sky. A dreamy colour of muted salmon greeted me. At 9.45pm in winter, it's normally so dark that I was transfixed by this sight of what looked like the sun hiding behind a hazy beautifully coloured cloud-encased sky. No mist, no moon, just a softness of the whole sky everywhere I looked. It was seamless with no normal breaks as you would normally see with clouds or even a sunset image, yet it was too late to be that. It was like an image of magical photography taken from a misty dream - yet no mist or fog existed beyond the clouded veil up high. It was so breathtaking I even called my sons down from upstairs to come and take a look. They marvelled at it, too. 
My camera didn't capture the peachy colour well, here it looks more of a dirty orange/brown.
The sky should be dark; a midnight blue, almost black, with stars at this hour, but instead it appears as neither day or night, suspended in-between. 
This time of year and hour it should look something like this ~
But this is more like it ~
The colour was more like the centre of this photo.
In reality, the colour was an ageing salmon, kissed by the sun from behind, which it obviously wasn't, being night. Everything was so clear in front and around me, this dreamy essence remained in the canopy above. I searched the net for pictures that resembled the actual image I saw to give a true 'feel' to colour and essence. Below are the closest I could find in my excitement before the memory faded. 
 Dreamy Sky ~ A seamless cloud
(Blurry dusky peach with light shining through)
A smoky peach whisper kissed by light 
(Perfect colour of what I saw)
Smoky peach cloud - seamless with no gradient of colour
I checked out the sun position etc for today ~
Current Time: 9 Feb 2017, 23:15:43
Sun Direction: ↑ 336.92° NNW
Sun Altitude: -51.01°
Sun Distance: 147.616 million km

Sunrise was at 07:25 ↑ (113°) and 
Sunset was at 17:05 ↑ (247°)
With the sunset being so much earlier, during early evening at 5.05 pm, the light could've only come from the moon. An odd colour, so bright reminding me of  a foggy sunset, strangely beautiful and ethereal.
My back garden at night ~ 9.45pm on Feb' 9th 2017
From the kitchen, stepping out into Narnia ☝👇
Sadly, the camera on my phone didn't pick up the true luminosity and splendour of the sky ~ it was certainly an enchanting image, and one I've never seen before. The best way to explain it? Reminded me of a soft, flannelette sheet, tinted, covering the whole sky but with a soft light shining in from behind ~ blocking anything beyond that completely out. Thick, opaque, same all over in colour and consistency apart from the source of light, in which direction was difficult to determine. If you were to pull at one edge of the sheet or poke it with a stick, the normal sky would once again reveal itself.  
Front garden view about half hour later. The sky appears brownish here, but in fact, was a smoky peach. Not as dreamy as the back garden view with all the houses and streetlight, but still a fantastic, bright, seamless sky. Surreal. If it wasn't so cold, I would sit out in the garden and admire it for longer. Brrr!

The few things other wonderful experiences:
1. A short time ago I saw Venus under the moon when travelling back from a market in the car. The sky was a beautiful blend of pastel pink and lilac. Sadly, I had no camera. A clear sky meant the planet, nicknamed the ‘Evening Star’, was easily visible to the naked eye. Stargazers also spotted the planet Mars which - despite being up to 100 times less bright than Venus - could also be glimpsed to the upper left of the moon. Link HERE
2. A double rainbow - huge. Seen twice. Link HERE
3. Super moon viewed from the garden of a friends house in Devon. If I remember correctly, it was a Hunter's moon, the first full moon after the Harvest Moon. It was around the time of Lammas, between 1 August and 1 September. The first harvest festival of the year (Pagan festival).   Link HERE
4. Blood moon lunar eclipse with a super-moon event 2015 watched from my old garden. Link HERE
5. Rainbow when watering the garden ~ Although nothing to do wth the sky, my partner created a rainbow in the garden. An arch created from using water hose and sun. It was amazing to see a mini rainbow you could reach out and touch. I remember asking my partner if digging at the end of the rainbow would still count if created ourselves. ;o) 
The water drop is acting like a prism - some of the light bounces off the back of the water droplets and back out - the rainbow you see is a combination of millions of these light beams coming back to you.
Love and light,