On October 8th there will be a total eclipse of the Moon. Got clouds? No problem. The event will be broadcast live on the web by the Coca-Cola Science Center.
NASA SPACECRAFT DETECTS SUPER X-FLARE: If you thought an X1-class solar flare was bad, how about an X100,000? NASA's Swift spacecraft has detected such a explosion. Fortunately for life on Earth, it did not come from the sun. The source of the super-flare was another star almost 60 light-years away: full story.
DEPARTING SUNSPOTS: The chance of Earth-directed flares is decreasing as a phalanx of sunspots rotates off the visible disk of the sun. This morning in Romania, Maximilian Teodorescu photographed some of the departing active regions:
"This is the AR2172-AR2173 complex," he says. "Soon they will be on the farside of the sun."
There is a brief hazard to consider as these sunspots depart: If any of them erupt as they go around the sun's western limb, they could spark a radiation storm near our planet. The reason is, the western limb of the sun is well-connected to Earth. Solar magnetic fields springing out of that region spiral back to our planet. If a sunspot passing through the area explodes, those spiralling magnetic fields can funnel energetic particles in our direction.
That said, the chance of flares is waning. NOAA forecasters estimate a 45% chance of M-flares today, down to 20% on Oct. 4th. Solar flare alerts: text, voice
Aurora Photo Gallery
SPACE WEATHER BUOY RECOVERED: It only looks like a lunchbox. Pictured below is a Space Weather Buoy--an insulated capsule containing a cosmic ray detector, video cameras, GPS trackers, and other sensors. On Sept. 28th, it flew 115,000 feet above Earth's surface to check radiation levels in the stratosphere. This picture was taken at the apex of the flight:
In collaboration with Spaceweather.com, the students of Earth to Sky Calculus have been launching these buoys on a regular basis to study the effect of solar activity on Earth's upper atmosphere. Their latest flight has a sharply defined purpose: to find out if stratospheric radiation is rebounding from a "Forbush Decrease" earlier this month.
The story begins on Sept. 12th when a CME hit Earth head-on, sparking the strongest geomagnetic storm of the year. The students launched a Space Weather Buoy into the storm, expecting to measure an increase in energetic particles. Instead of more, however, they measured less. The CME swept away many of the cosmic rays around Earth and, as a result, radiation levels in the stratosphere dropped. This counterintuitive effect is called a "Forbush Decrease" after the 20th century physicist Scott Forbush who first described it.
Now that the CME is long gone, cosmic radiation levels around Earth should be returning to normal. But are they? The answer lies inside the payload, which a team recovered yesterday from a remote landing site in Death Valley National Park. Stay tuned.
Note: The students wish to thank Sander Geophysics for sponsoring this flight. (Note their logo in the upper right corner of the payload.) Their generous contribution of $500 paid for the helium and other supplies necessary to get this research off the ground.
Space Weather 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 Oct. 2, 2014, the network reported 25 fireballs.
(24 sporadics, 1 Southern Taurid)
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.
October 2, 2014 there were 1505
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