| WAKE UP! Did you sleep through the auroras of October? Next time get a wake-up call: Spaceweather PHONE. || || |
AURORA ALERT: High-latitude sky watchers should be alert for Northern Lights tonight. Earth is entering a high-speed solar wind stream and this is lighting up auroras around the Arctic Circle.
images: from Aleksander Chernucho of the Kolyskia peninsula, Russia; from LeRoy Zimmerman of Ester, Alaska
TAURID METEORS: The annual Taurid meteor shower is underway and it could be a good show. 2008 is a "swarm year" for the Taurids: Between Nov. 5th and 12th, Earth is due to pass through a swarm of gritty debris from parent comet 2P/Encke. When the same thing happened in 2005, sky watchers observed a slow drizzle of midnight fireballs for nearly two weeks.
Roman Piffl sends this report from Slovakia: "Last night (Nov. 5th), a very bright Taurid fireball streaked over the northern horizon of Marianka near our capital city Bratislava." He and colleagues Ivan Majchrovic and Tomas Maruska captured the meteor in this 30 second exposure with a Canon 5D:
"We estimate the magnitude of the fireball to be -10, about as bright as a quarter Moon," he says.
Readers, be alert for more of these in the nights ahead. The best time to look is anytime after dark. The constellation Taurus (where Taurids appear) rises at sunset and hangs high overhead at midnight: sky map.
more Taurid photos: from Frank R Uroda of Port Huron, Michigan; from Brian Emfinger of Ozark, Arkansas
GREAT PROMINENCE: "The sun left two gifts on my doorstep this morning," says Alan Friedman of Buffalo, New York. "There was a gorgeous solar prominence and a glorious warm November day that allowed me to observe it in shirtsleeves!" This was the view through his backyard solar telescope:
Other observers saw it, too: Stephen Ames of Hodgenville, Kentucky, called it "a real WOWser!" Jan Timmermans of the Netherlands measured the prominence and found it surging "four times higher than Earth itself. It was huge." John Boyd of Santa Barbara, California, said "it was the biggest prominence I've seen in a long time. I'm glad the sun is getting active again."
Indeed it is. The month of October brought four new-cycle sunspots, doubling the total of the previous nine months. For the first time in 2008, new-cycle active regions are outnumbering their old-cycle counterparts. Solar Cycle 24 is definitely picking up steam and this fiery prominence may be a further sign of things to come.
Readers, if you have a solar telescope, take a look at the increasingly active sun.
more images: from David Leong of Hong Kong; from Jan Timmermans of Valkenswaard, the Netherlands; from Steve Irvine of Big Bay, Ontario, Canada; from Adrian Guzman of San Jose, California;
Oct. 2008 Aurora Gallery
[Previous Octobers: 2007, 2006, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000]