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THANKSGIVING SKIES: In the USA, Thanksgiving is the bigggest travel holiday of the year. That's good news for sky watchers, because there are some things you can see only from the window of an airplane. Find out what from Science@NASA.
SPACE WEATHER BALLOON EXPLODES: On Nov. 23rd, the students of Earth to Sky Calculus launched a Space Weather Buoy to the stratosphere. Carried aloft by a suborbital helium balloon, the payload contained a pair of X-ray/gamma-ray sensors to measure cosmic radiation levels inside Earth's ozone layer. About 90 minutes after launch, this is what happened:
The balloon exploded: #1, #2, #3, #4.
It's supposed to do that. As a weather balloon ascends, it expands into the rapidly thinning air high above Earth. The diameter multiplies until the growing sphere is as wide as a small house. Eventually, the rubber fabric of the balloon reaches its elastic limit, and it ruptures. If it didn't, we would never get the payload back!
This balloon exploded at an altitude of 102,986 feet. The almost-silent blast was captured by a camera looking up from the payload below. Next, a parachute opened and the payload descended to Earth, landing in a remote corner of Death Valley where an Earth to Sky recovery team retrieved it yesterday.
The students and their mentor Dr. Tony Phillips of spaceweather.com are examining the radiation data now. This is the first time they have flown two radiation sensors. Cross-calibrating the two sensors in a single flight will allow the team to fly them separately on future missions, launching multiple balloons in rapid succession to investigate the dynamics of solar storms. Stay tuned for updates.
Space Weather Photo Gallery
AURORA WATCH: In most places on Earth, seeing auroras is rare. In Sweden's Abisko National Park, not seeing them is even rarer. "Last night was the 10th time we have seen the auroras during the last 11 days!" reports tour guide Chad Blakley. "Our group of eight witnessed a very nice aurora display dancing over Lake Torneträsk for several hours." He photographed the display using a Nikon D600:
"For many of our guests this was the most impressive display they had ever seen," adds Blakley. "I never grow tired of sharing the excitement the first time someone sees the Northern Lights."
Tonight could be 11 out of 12. A high-speed solar wind stream is heading for Earth and it could arrive on Nov. 25-26. NOAA forecasters estimate a 25% chance polar polar geomagnetic storms during the next 24 hours. Aurora alerts: text, voice
Aurora Photo Gallery
Comet Photo Gallery
Every night, a network
all-sky cameras scans the skies above the United
States for meteoritic fireballs. Automated software
maintained by NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office
calculates their orbits, velocity, penetration depth
in Earth's atmosphere and many other characteristics.
Daily results are presented here on Spaceweather.com.
On Nov. 26, 2014, the network reported 13 fireballs.
(11 sporadics, 1 November omega Orionid, 1 Leonid)
In this diagram of the inner solar system, all of the fireball orbits intersect at a single point--Earth. The orbits are color-coded by velocity, from slow (red) to fast (blue). [Larger image] [movies]
Potentially Hazardous Asteroids (PHAs
are space rocks larger than approximately 100m that
can come closer to Earth than 0.05 AU. None of the
known PHAs is on a collision course with our planet,
although astronomers are finding new
all the time.
November 27, 2014 there were 1516
potentially hazardous asteroids.
Notes: LD means
"Lunar Distance." 1 LD = 384,401 km, the distance
between Earth and the Moon. 1 LD also equals 0.00256
AU. MAG is the visual magnitude of the asteroid on
the date of closest approach.
official U.S. government space weather bureau
first place to look for information about sundogs,
pillars, rainbows and related phenomena.
call it a "Hubble for the sun." SDO
is the most advanced solar observatory ever.
views of the sun from NASA's Solar and Terrestrial
and archival images of the Sun from SOHO.
the NOAA Space Environment Center
underlying science of space weather