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Thread: Earth's atmosphere can reach temperatures up to 2700 degrees Fahrenheit?

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    Default Earth's atmosphere can reach temperatures up to 2700 degrees Fahrenheit?



    I recently got a book at the library titled The Total Skywatcher's Manual by Linda Shore, David Prosper & Vivian White (Weldon Owen publishers 2015) and it's full of all kinds of interesting facts and tidbits. An item that got my attention in particular is a description of the five layers of our atmosphere which have surpringly different temperatures.

    The third and fourth layers going outward are the mesosphere (32-50miles above) and the thermosphere (50-435 miles up). The mesosphere is where meteors burn up and is the coldest layer at -80C/-120F. The thermosphere, the layer above, is where the international space station orbits, where auroras form and according to the book "...Temperatures here reach up to a steamy 2,700F (1,500C)."

    The book does not explain how or why this happens but I find those high temperatures surprising. How does this happen?
    THP

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    Default Re: Earth's atmosphere can reach temperatures up to 2700 degrees Fahrenheit?

    Space is such an interesting place
    https://www.windows2universe.org/ear...rmosphere.html
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    Default Re: Earth's atmosphere can reach temperatures up to 2700 degrees Fahrenheit?

    Thanks Gabby76, that's a good explanation! Makes me wonder how a spacewalk must feel around ISS when the sun is up or down.
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    Default Re: Earth's atmosphere can reach temperatures up to 2700 degrees Fahrenheit?

    I imagine the suits systems get a good workout.
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    Default Re: Earth's atmosphere can reach temperatures up to 2700 degrees Fahrenheit?

    Although the temperature is very high, the density of the gas is so low that it cannot deliver significant quantities of heat.
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    Default Re: Earth's atmosphere can reach temperatures up to 2700 degrees Fahrenheit?

    Thank you KathyNS. So while the temp is high up there, there is more empty space between atoms, molecules, and particles and hence less heat transfer than in denser atmosphere closer to the ground if I understand.
    THP

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    Default Re: Earth's atmosphere can reach temperatures up to 2700 degrees Fahrenheit?

    Very interesting question Happy Parrot.
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    Default Re: Earth's atmosphere can reach temperatures up to 2700 degrees Fahrenheit?

    Hi THP. Sorry to come in late on here. KathyNS nailed the answer here. I can tell you that I have observed Jupiter in the summer time, and the the upper atmospheric thermal spherules can play havoc with you. On my last session, Jupiter's equatorial belts and the north and south temporal belts were showing and then not showing, like someone opening and closing a horizontal door. Years ago, they made long exposure planetary images, but this pushed the reciprocity factor of the film. Nowadays, we have astronomy video cameras, and can pick the best frames from the session to be stacked for the final image. I hope this this helps THP, and the best of regards.
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    Default Re: Earth's atmosphere can reach temperatures up to 2700 degrees Fahrenheit?

    Interesting note on atmospheric artifact on images Marshall. Thanks. Would you say much of the air turbulence we see through the lens occurs at lower denser layers in the atmosphere? It is remarkable how high temperature can rise in the thermosphere.
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    Default Re: Earth's atmosphere can reach temperatures up to 2700 degrees Fahrenheit?

    Hi THP. To be sure, we observe through several layers of our atmosphere. This is why objects look better when viewed nearly overhead rather than near the horizon, because we are going through less of our atmosphere. Even on what we might consider a "great sky" one night, with great transparency and seeing, we still have those unseen upper atmosphere thermal spherules to deal with on our telescope session. Although these "cells" are calculated to be only a few centimeters in diameter, they can still result in a somewhat blurry image at our eyepiece.
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