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The Night Sky in February

Adrian Berry, The Daily Telegraph

Is climate change caused by astronomical events beyond our control? There is growing evidence that the state of our atmosphere is dominated by the violent outbursts of energy that our solar system meets on its eternal passage through the Milky Way.

My picture, at shows the Pleiades, the brilliant and easily visible 400-light-year distant star cluster in Taurus that is now in the western sky. As many as 20 Pleiades stars have exploded as supernovae in the last million years, sending out cosmic rays that hit our atmosphere like atomic bullets.

These rays create the aerosol droplets that form the low-altitude clouds that bring us cold weather. “The evidence for this is now solidly confirmed,” said Jasper Kirkby, chief of the 2011 experiment at CERN which simulated cosmic rays to produce cloud-forming aerosols.

Low clouds – at less than 10,000 feet – have been one of the strongest causes of frigid climate. They may have caused “Snowball Earths”, periods when snow and ice covered the whole planet.

So vulnerable has our climate been to cosmic bombardment that the Danish scientist Henrik Svensmark, in his book The Chilling Stars written with the late Nigel Calder, compares our solar system to a “party of elderly ladies in a small boat who have blundered into the middle of the Battle of Trafalgar”.

As for the fashionable theory of climate change caused by carbon dioxide, it is contradicted by all the geological evidence. Searches going back 500 million years have failed to find any connection. Svensmark and Calder consider the case for man-made climate change “well and truly squelched”.

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