Aurora Mystery Solved?

I found this article linked from and thought of sharing it with all of you. The article was taken from To see it in its original web page, click here.

Per-Arne-Mikalsen2The mystery shape in the aurora over Andenes, Norway (photograph by Per-Arne Mikalsen)

On Jan. 20, 2010, Per-Arne Mikalsen was photographing a vast aurora erupting over the northern Norwegian town of Andenes.

Because solar activity is on the increase, aurora spotters have many opportunities to see the Northern Lights. On this particular night the aurora was intense, stretching toward the southern latitudes of Norway.

In one of the photographs taken by Mikalsen was an “object” that couldn’t be identified. Although Mikalsen had taken several images at the same location, just one photo showed a mysterious green parachute-like object hanging with the main aurora. (This time, it appears that the Russian military was not involved in the making of this strange shape in the sky.)

At first it seemed easy to dismiss the object as a lens flare or a spot on the camera lens, but after further study it became clear that the answer wasn’t that simple.

Per-Arne-Mikalsen1 The mystery shape in the aurora over Andenes, Norway, wider angle (photograph by Per-Arne Mikalsen)

Also, Mikalsen is no stranger to aurorae, having worked on Andøya Rocket Range (on the island of Andøya) for many years. He’s seen aurorae of all shapes and sizes, but he’d never before seen a structure like this hanging in the sky.

“I have been working the Andøya Rocket Range for 25 years (the 20 last years in the management) and I have become more and more fascinated by the aurora,” Mikalsen told Discovery News. “Photography is a hobby for me.”

According to Mikalsen, as soon as he posted his aurora photographs on the Northern Lights Gallery, he received dozens of emails from all over the world requesting more information about the mysterious shape.

So what could it be? In correspondence with Truls Lynne Hansen, lead scientist at the Tromsø Geophysical Observatory, he doubts that the mystery object can be explained by a technical fault.

“Usually such aberrations appear when there is a small and intense source of light in the field of view, or at least so close that the light from it hits the lens,” Hansen explained to me via email. “That seems not to be the case here.”

“Additionally the color of the ‘phenomenon’ is the same as the color in the aurora, the auroral green line from atomic oxygen,” Hansen continued, “so the ‘phenomenon’ is either a genuine auroral feature or a reflection of auroral light somewhere in space.”

Hold on. A reflection of auroral light… in space? That’s impossible.

Or is it?

How an Iridium flare works with sunlight, but the same should be true for other light sources, such as aurorae (

The structured shape of the phenomenon, plus its distance from any light sources, seems to indicate that this isn’t an equipment problem. There is also no known aurora that could do this naturally. So that leaves the “reflection from space” argument. What do we have in space that could possibly reflect the green light being emitted by the aurora?

“I agree with Pål Brekke [Senior Advisor at the Norwegian Space Centre] that a reflection from a satellite is a candidate,” said Hansen. “It reminds of the so-called ‘Iridium flares’ — reflections of sunlight from the regularly shaped Iridium satellites.”

Satellite flares are well known by astronomers. As a satellite passes overhead, the conditions may be right for the spacecraft’s solar panels or antennae to reflect sunlight down to the ground. The result is a short-lived burst of light, known as a “flare.”

The network of Iridium communication satellites are best known for their flares, since they have three huge door-sized antennae that act as orbital mirrors. Witnessing an Iridium flare is immensely rewarding; the event can be predicted beforehand because these satellites have orbits that can be tracked.

My personal concern about the satellite flare theory is the question about auroral light intensity. Is the light from a large aurora bright enough to bounce off a satellite and appear as an auroral satellite flare as a point? And in turn produce a parachute-shaped, lens flare-like projection in the photo? I couldn’t imagine even an Iridium satellite amplifying auroral light that much (although a stonking-huge orbital solar power array of the future might do a better job).

“The intensity of an intense aurora is not far from the intensity of moonlight, which is 1/100,000 of sun’s light, and the solar Iridium flares apparently are several orders of magnitude stronger than this ‘auroral flare,’ so the intensity does not immediately exclude the satellite reflection hypothesis,” said Hansen.

A weak auroral flare seems feasible, but as pointed out by astronomer Daniel Fischer via Twitter, the green flare might not have anything to do with reflected aurora light, it could just be the color of the lens coating. The lens flare was therefore the result of internal reflections inside the camera lens caused by the bright lights in the lower left-hand corner of the frame.

“It has the typical caustic shape and it is opposite several bright point lights,” Fischer observed. “Green color could be caused by lens coatings.”

Although more research will need to be done, it certainly seems plausible that Per-Arne Mikalsen serendipitously took a photograph of a satellite flare (possibly an Iridium satellite). What makes this revelation even more exciting is that we’ve never seen an auroral reflection from a satellite before (if it’s not a lens flare, that is). “I have, by the way, never seen or heard of a similar phenomenon,” Hansen said.

If you want to see a bigger version of the phototgraph, please click here. Believe me, the bigger version is just marvellous!


Wacana: Gerakan Tajdid Dan Pemikiran Najdiyyun

Two days ago, I went to Masjid Wilayah Kuala Lumpur in Jalan Duta to attend the ‘Wacana: Gerakan Tajdid Dan Pemikiran Najdiyyun’. It was organised by MUAFAKAT (Pertubuhan Muafakat Sejahtera Masyarakat Malaysia), JAIS (Jabatan Agama Islam Selangor) and JAKIM (Jabatan Kemajuan Islam Malaysia).

The program started with the registration session at 8:00 a.m.  The papers were presented by:  Dr. Muhammad ‘Uthman El-Muhammady from ISTAC (International Institute Of Islamic Thought And Civilization), Kuala Lumpur and Dr. Asmadi Mohamed Naim from UUM (Universiti Utara Malaysia), Sintok. The papers presented were:

  • Menilai Secara ’Ilmiyah Mengenai Peranan ‘Abdul Wahhab Sebagai Mujaddid-Muslih.
  • Wacana Religio-Intelektual Najdiyyun: Pro Dan Kontra Terhadap Peranannya Pada Tamaddun Ummah.
  • Pemikiran Aliran Najdiyyun Dalam Menghadapi Pemikiran Pasca-Modernisme: Satu Pengamatan

The organisers also collected donations for Pondok Lubuk Tapah; the oldest pondok school in Pasir Mas, Kelantan which was burnt down early last Friday. Alhamdulillah, more than RM3,500 were collected on that day. I was one of the working committee at the program, helping out with the registration and collecting donations.The program ended with the ‘Question and Answers’ session which ended at around 5 p.m. The news below is written by Saifulizam Mohamad and Sholina Osman from Utusan Online.

‘Bukan mujaddid’


KUALA LUMPUR 24 Jan. – Pengasas fahaman Wahabi, Muhammad Abdul Wahhab (meninggal dunia 1787) bukannya seorang mujaddid kerana sistem keilmuannya tidak berada dalam acuan Ahli Sunnah Wal Jamaah serta kaedah ilmunya tidak mengikut kaedah fahaman sunni.

Felo Kehormat Institut Pemikiran dan Tamadun Antarabangsa (ISTAC), Dr. Uthman El Muhammady berkata, selain itu ilmu yang ada padanya juga tidak sampai sehingga ke peringkat mampu melakukan ijtihad dan keadaan itu menyebabkan Muhammad bukan dikategorikan sebagai mujaddid.

Paling besar dalam sejarah beliau berkata ialah tindakan Muhammad bekerjasama dengan British dan Perancis hingga membawa kepada kejatuhan Khilafah Uthmaniah kerana menganggap kerajaan itu kononnya mengamalkan bidaah.

”Walaupun ini bukan satu-satunya faktor kemusnahan kerajaan tersebut tetapi ia tetap merupakan salah satu sebab yang membawa kepada kejatuhan itu.

“Tidak ada mazhab fiqh dalam Ahli Sunnah Wal Jamaah yang mengizinkan ulul-amri (pemerintah) disanggah sebegitu rupa dan ini berbeza dengan fahaman Wahabi,” katanya.

Beliau berkata demikian ketika membentangkan kertas kerja bertajuk ‘Penelitian kembali tentang kedudukan Muhammad Abdul Wahhab sebagai mujaddid‘ di Masjid Wilayah Persekutuan di sini hari ini.

Pembentangan kertas kerja itu sempena Wacana Pemikiran dan Pembinaan Ummah 1: Gerakan Tajdid dan Pemikiran Najdiyyun anjuran Pertubuhan Muafakat Sejahtera Masyarakat Malaysia (Muafakat).

Sehubungan itu Uthman berkata, sukar untuk meletakkan Muhammad berwajah mujaddid kerana amalannya yang bercanggah dengan Ahli Sunnah Wal Jamaah.

Beliau berkata, ia ditambahkan lagi dengan tabiat fahaman Wahabi yang sama seperti Kahawarij zaman klasik dan sering berperang dengan golongan tidak bersetuju dengan mereka.

“Mereka senang menghalalkan darah dan harta orang lain sebagaimana yang jelas dalam sejarah serta ajaran mereka.

“Jelas dalam skop sistem ilmu Ahli Sunnah Wal Jamaah ajaran Muhammad Abdul Wahhab pada beberapa perkara asasi iaitu akidah, syariat dan akhlak serta rohani adalah amat bertentangan sama sekali,” katanya.

Uthman di dalam pembentangan kertas kerjanya turut mendedahkan bagaimana bapa Muhammad iaitu Abdul Wahhab Sulaiman al-Najdi serta adiknya Sulaiman yang tidak redha dengan dakwah pengasas fahaman Wahabi itu.

“Adiknya Sulaiman marahkan Muhammad kerana pengasas fahaman Wahabi itu terlalu berpandukan kepada fahaman ibn.Taimiyyah dan ibn. Qayyim tanpa memandang pendapat ulama terdahulu dan kemudian.

“Ini terkandung di dalam kitab karangan Syeikh Muhammad Abdullah al-Hanbali iaitu seorang mufti di Mekah (meninggal dunia 1295 hijrah),” katanya lagi.

Mengenai ulama yang boleh digelar mujaddid, Uthman telah menyenaraikannya mengikut tempoh tertentu antaranya; Umar Abdul Aziz (salah seorang Khalifah Bani Umaiyyah); Imam Syafie; Imam Abu Hassan al-Asyari; Al-Baqillani; Imam Abu Hamid al-Ghazali dan Imam al-Nawawi.

Friends from Sri Lanka

Last Friday, my family and I went to May Tower Hotel in Jalan Munshi Abdullah to meet Uncle Zahedi, Aunty Suzana and Brother Hisham. They came from Sri Lanka to send Brother Hisham who is currently doing his Master’s Degree in Islamic Finance here in Kuala Lumpur.

We met them after the Friday prayers. When we reached there, Aunty Suzana looked at me exclaiming, “Oh, she looks just like Aishah”. Aishah Salihue is Aunty Suzana’s niece and a friend of mine who lives in San Jose, California. Coincidentally, Aishah shared the same name with my little sister, Aeshah, while Aishah’s little brother shared the same name with my little brother, Ali. I had met her and her family twice during my visits to the USA in 2005 and 2006.

I remember going to her house in 2006. Her huge backyard is like a wonderland  filled with many kinds of fruit trees. On the day I visited her, Aishah found out that their first apple had ripened in the backyard. She excitedly pluck it and ran with the apple indoors to show it to her mum. There was also a tent, Aishah’s bike, his little brother, Ali’s wagon, a table with benches and a trampoline in the backyard.

I remember feeling so excited as I succeeded to ride Aishah’s bike without any difficulties even on the grass. It was actually my second time riding a bike without the two tiny side wheels to help me balance. I also remember pulling Ali’s wagon with both ‘Alis’ giggling inside. We also drew pictures and wrote stories on the wooden table. But the best part of the day was when I met Aishah’s grandparents who came all the way from Sri Lanka. Aishah’s grandfather gave me a lot of very beautiful Sri Lankan stamps which are now safely kept inside my stamp album.

We had a great time. Before we left, Aishah’s mother gave me a beautiful brown hijab. We still keep in touch through emails and we sent stamps to each other several times. I really hope that Insya Allah, I could once again visit Aishah in her wonderful backyard.

It was so enjoyable meeting Uncle Zahedi, Aunty Suzana and Brother Hisham. They are very nice and wonderful to be with. Aunty Suzana is very sweet, beautiful and friendly and she really reminds me of her younger sister who is Aishah’s mother.

Animals Love To Hear Quran – Video

As I promised all of you, here is the video of our performance (click here to read more) last month. The quality is not as good as the original video since my dad had to decrease the size of the file in order to upload it on YouTube. The video is also quite noisy because of the noise made by the inflatable tent blower which they used as the roof for the stage. If my dad uploads a better version of the performance, I’ll let all of you know. This video shows all four of us (Ahmad Ali, Anisah Afifah, Aeshah Adlina and I) singing the Animals Love To Hear Quran nasheed.

During the performance, we also sang the Khalifah Song and Alhamdulillah. I hope that you shall enjoy the video.

We Are Khalifah Of Allah – Video

As I promised all of you, here is the video of our performance (click here to read more) last month. The quality is not as good as the original video since my dad had to decrease the size of the file in order to upload it on YouTube. The video is also quite noisy because of the noise made by the inflatable tent blower which they used as the roof for the stage. If my dad uploads a better version of the performance, I’ll let all of you know. This video shows all four of us (Ahmad Ali, Anisah Afifah, Aeshah Adlina and I) singing the Khalifah Song.

We performed two other songs that day, Animals Love To Hear Quran and Alhamdulillah. I hope that you shall enjoy the video.

100 Years Ago: The Amazing Technology of 1910

I found this very interesting article in Yahoo! News and thought of sharing it with all of you.

Heather Whipps
Special to LiveScience Heather Whipps
special To Livescience
Fri Jan 1, 11:05 am ET

The dawn of 2010 promises more amazing developments in the world of technology. Already, tourists can visit space, for a price, nearly everything and everyone is going digital, and medical science continues to test the boundaries of what makes us truly human. One full century ago, the new technologies that had people talking were considered just as groundbreaking. Electricity led the charge of developments that were changing the way people lived every day, with transportation and chemistry not far behind. As the clocks of 1909 ticked towards 1910, more exciting inventions were just around the corner.

The first decade of the 1900s was an exciting time to be alive, with inventors continuing to make major strides in all disciplines.
The early years of the century saw the general public finally able to enjoy the fruits of what was achieved in electrical engineering during the previous century. By 1910, many suburban homes had been wired up with power and new electric gadgets were being patented with fervor. Vacuum cleaners and washing machines had just become commercially available, though were still too expensive for many middle-class families. The telephone was another hot new commodity in 1910, with millions of American homes already connected by manual switchboard. Those who did not have a phone to call their neighbor still had to rely on the paper for their news, however; though radio technology was in its infancy, regular broadcasts were still several years away. In transportation, those first years of the 20th century began the age of the airship, marked by a craze for dirigibles such as the Zeppelin and the Wright Brothers’ historic flight at Kitty Hawk in 1903. Henry Ford introduced his landmark Model T in 1908, making automobiles available and affordable to the masses for the first time.
Chemistry also charged full steam ahead in 1910. Advances in the use of gases chilled the world out with the release of the first electric refrigerators and air-conditioning units, while French inventor Georges Claude harnessed neon in glass tubes and debuted neon lighting in Paris, changing the face of seedy advertising forever. Other new inventions, both influential and inane, that were making waves one century ago included:
  • Bakelite plastic
  • Escalators
  • Teabags

  • Cellophane

  • Instant coffee

  • Disposable razor blades
The best thing before sliced bread. The world was modernizing quickly by 1910, but some everyday things we take for granted now were then still just a glimmer in their inventors’ eyes. Men were still relying on buttons and women on painful corsets until 1913, for example, when clothing technology got a boost with the development of the zipper and modern brassiere. Unfortunate zipper accidents likely healed better with the invention of the modern Band-Aid, which came about seven years later. Steel turned rusty until mid-decade, when the stainless variety ushered in a new era of efficient gun barrels and, later, shiny appliances. Finally, though the pop-up toaster first hit the market in 1919, the public had to wait almost ten years for its practicality to be fully realized. The “greatest thing” of the modern age, the one invention against which all others are now compared-sliced bread-was born in Missouri in 1928.

We’re just so modernised now that it sounds funny that once a person invented sliced bread and teabags. I guess in another hundred years, computers are no longer thought as an invention but as a daily need.