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IMPORTANT SPACE WEATHER SATELLITE SET TO LAUNCH: NOAA, NASA and the US Air Force are preparing to launch a satellite that is critical to space weather forecasting: The Deep Space Climate Observatory ("DSCOVR" for short) will monitor solar wind from the L1 point one-million miles upstream from Earth. Set to launch on Feb. 8th, DSCOVR will succeed the aging ACE spacecraft in providing early warnings of incoming CMEs and other solar storms. Monitor the launch blog for updates.
DARK SOLAR FILAMENT: Most solar flares come from sunspots. The next big explosion, however, could come from a different source: A huge magnetic filament is hanging over the surface of the sun, and it could erupt at any moment. Sergio Castillo photographed the structure from his backyard observatory in Corona, CA:
"This dark filament wish is really easy to spot using a backyard solar telescope," says Castillo. "Many amateur astronomers are photographing it."
The structure is, essentially, a tendril of plasma more than 400,000 km long held suspended above the surface of the sun by magnetic forces. Its scale is nicely illustrated in this diagram prepared by Spaceweather.com reader Sefano Sello of Pisa, Italy. If the filement were peeled off the sun and stretched out, it would easily reach from Earth to the Moon. It could also be wrapped around the circumference of giant Jupiter many times over.
If the filament becomes unstable and erupts, it could hurl parts of itself into space. Pieces of the filament falling back to the solar surface would explode upon impact, creating one or more Hyder flares. Astronomers with backyard solar telescopes are encouraged to monitor the structure as it turns toward Earth. A photogenic explosion may be in the offing. Solar flare alerts: text, voice
Realtime Space Weather Photo Gallery
EDGE-ON ENCOUNTER WITH JUPITER: Jupiter is having a close encounter with Earth--an edge-on close encounter. In a rare coincidence, Jupiter's opposition on Feb. 6th coincides almost perfectly with its equinox on Feb. 5th when the Sun crosses Jupiter's equatorial plane. This sets the stage for a remarkable series of events. Now, and for the next couple of months, backyard sky watchers can see the moons of Jupiter executing a complex series of mutual eclipses and transits. For example, play this movie:
Astronomer Thomas Ashcraft recorded these images on Feb. 2nd from his private observatory in eural New Mexico. "The movie shows Ganymede passing in front of Europa on Feb 02nd in the near-infrared at 610 nm," explains Ashcraft. "Some detail is evident on Ganymede. It is interesting to see how distinctly different the moons are."
Next up: On Feb. 7th, icy Europa will cast its shadow on volcanic Io. Events like these will continue, off and on, until July 2015. Browse the realtime Jupiter photo gallery for more examples.
Realtime Jupiter Photo Gallery
SPACE ROSES FOR VALENTINE'S DAY: Valentine's Day is just around the corner, and many people are preparing to give the gift of roses. But wait. How about space roses, instead? On Jan. 28th, Spaceweather.com and the students of Earth to Sky Calculus flew a batch of rose seeds to the stratosphere. They went aloft inside a standard Space Weather Buoy, nestled alongside cameras, radiation sensors and GPS trackers. Here is a picture of the seeds 107,300 feet above Earth's surface:
En route to the edge of space, the seeds experienced cosmic radiation levels, temperatures, and pressures akin to those on the planet Mars. What kind of roses will these "space seeds" produce? We only know this: A seed packet of space roses would make a unique Valentine's gift.
Get yours now. For only $49.95 we will mail you a packet of seeds along with a Valentine's card authenticating their flight. 100% of funds received will be used for student research. For more information, contact Dr. Tony Phillips.
Realtime Aurora Photo Gallery
Realtime Comet Photo Gallery
Every night, a network of NASA 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 Feb. 7, 2015, the network reported 17 fireballs.
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 ones
all the time.
On February 7, 2015 there were potentially hazardous asteroids.
Recent & Upcoming Earth-asteroid encounters: 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.
|Asteroid || |
|2015 BF92 || |
|2015 AZ43 || |
|2000 EE14 || |
|2063 Bacchus || |
| ||The official U.S. government space weather bureau |
| ||The first place to look for information about sundogs, pillars, rainbows and related phenomena. |
| ||Researchers call it a "Hubble for the sun." SDO is the most advanced solar observatory ever. |
| ||3D views of the sun from NASA's Solar and Terrestrial Relations Observatory |
| ||Realtime and archival images of the Sun from SOHO. |
| ||from the NOAA Space Environment Center |
| ||the underlying science of space weather |