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PERSEID METEOR SHOWER--UPDATE: Yes, there was a Perseid outburst last night. Maybe two. Reporting via the Central Bureau of Astronomical Telegrams, Peter Jenniskens of the SETI Institute writes that "predicted encounters with the 1-revolution and 4-revolution dust trails of comet 109P/Swift-Tuttle were observed on Aug. 12" with peak rates of 140 and 190 meteors per hour, respectively. Preliminary data from the International Meteor Organization (IMO) Video Network suggest that each surge was no more than ~1 hour long. Check the full telegram for details.
An all-sky camera operated by Kevin Palivec caught at least one of the outbursts over Hawley, Texas. And that's not all. The movie he submitted to spaceweather.com also captured numerous airplanes, satellites, and sprites:
"Last night was a spectacular evening for watching the Persied meteor shower here in Texas," says Palivec. "Early in the evening we were treated to some sprites and lightning off to the northwest, which was worrying because it meant we might get clouded over. However that didnt happen, and after midnight the sky lit up with streaks of Persieds flashing across the sky."
The shows not over. Earth is still inside the debris zone of Comet Swift-Tuttle, and meteor rates could continue apace or even increase on Aug. 12-13. Observing tips: Go outside between midnight and dawn on Saturday morning. Allow about 45 minutes for your eyes to adjust to the dark. Lie on your back and look straight up. Perseids can appear anywhere in the sky, but their tails will point back to a single point in the constellation Perseus: sky map.
Realtime Perseid Photo Gallery
ASA's AIM SPACECRAFT, DONE FOR THE SEASON: The 2016 northern summer season for noctilucent clouds is almost finished. NASA's AIM spacecraft will miss the finale. Cora Randall, a member of the AIM science team at the University of Colorado, explains: "Recently, the AIM spacecraft experienced an anomaly requiring that CIPS (the Cloud Imaging and Particle Size Instrument) be temporarily turned off. The cause of the anomaly is well understood and a software patch is being developed. CIPS is expected to be turned back on in early September after the patch is uploaded to the spacecraft."
LIFT OFF: For days, astronomers have been monitoring a great filament of magnetism hovering above the sun's eastern limb. Now it appears to be lifting off. Alan Friedman of Buffalo, NY, photographed the structure defying the sun's gravity on Aug. 11th:
In the hours ahead, this unstable prominence could continue to rise above the sun, possibly exploding to form a CME (coronal mass ejection). If so, the resulting storm cloud would miss Earth because the blast site is too far off the sun-Earth line for a geoeffective impact. One thing is certain: the eruption will be photogenic. Readers with solar telescopes are encouraged to monitor developments.
Realtime Space Weather Photo Gallery
Realtime Sprite Photo Gallery
Realtime Aurora 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 Aug. 12, 2016, the network reported 262 fireballs.
(158 Perseids, 98 sporadics, 2 , 1 Northern delta Aquariid, 1 kappa Cygnid, 1 , 1 Southern delta Aquariid)
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 August 12, 2016 there were 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.
| ||Cosmic Rays in the Atmosphere |
These measurements are based on regular space weather balloon flights: learn more.
|Situation Report -- Oct. 30, 2015 ||Stratospheric Radiation (+37o N) |
|Cosmic ray levels are elevated (+6.1% above the Space Age median). The trend is flat. Cosmic ray levels have increased +0% in the past month. |
|Sept. 06: 4.14 uSv/hr (414 uRad/hr) |
|Sept. 12: 4.09 uSv/hr (409 uRad/hr) |
|Sept. 23: 4.12 uSv/hr (412 uRad/hr) |
|Sept. 25: 4.16 uSv/hr (416 uRad/hr) |
|Sept. 27: 4.13 uSv/hr (413 uRad/hr) |
|Oct. 11: 4.02 uSv/hr (402 uRad/hr) |
|Oct. 22: 4.11 uSv/hr (411 uRad/hr) |
Approximately once a week, Spaceweather.com and the students of Earth to Sky Calculus fly "space weather balloons" to the stratosphere over California. These balloons are equipped with radiation sensors that detect cosmic rays, a surprisingly "down to Earth" form of space weather. Cosmic rays can seed clouds, trigger lightning, and penetrate commercial airplanes. Our measurements show that someone flying back and forth across the continental USA, just once, can absorb as much ionizing radiation as 2 to 5 dental X-rays. For example, here is the data from a flight on Oct. 22, 2015:
Radiation levels peak at the entrance to the stratosphere in a broad region called the "Pfotzer Maximum." This peak is named after physicist George Pfotzer who discovered it using balloons and Geiger tubes in the 1930s. Radiation levels there are more than 80x sea level.
Note that the bottom of the Pfotzer Maximim is near 55,000 ft. This means that some high-flying aircraft are not far from the zone of maximum radiation. Indeed, according to the Oct 22th measurements, a plane flying at 45,000 feet is exposed to 2.79 uSv/hr. At that rate, a passenger would absorb about one dental X-ray's worth of radiation in about 5 hours.
The radiation sensors onboard our helium balloons detect X-rays and gamma-rays in the energy range 10 keV to 20 MeV. These energies span the range of medical X-ray machines and airport security scanners.
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| ||The first place to look for information about sundogs, pillars, rainbows and related phenomena. |
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| ||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 |
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