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CHANCE OF STORMS: NOAA forecasters estimate a 40% chance of polar geomagnetic storms on Jan. 15th when a CME is expected to sideswipe Earth's magnetic field. The storm cloud was propelled in our direction by a solar filament eruption three days ago. Residents of the Arctic, be alert for auroras. Aurora alerts: text, voice
COMET LOVEJOY AT ITS BRIGHTEST: This is a good week to look at Comet Lovejoy, which is reaching maximum brightness as mid-January passes. Experienced observers say the comet is now shining like a star of magnitude +3.8. In other words, it is an easy target for binoculars and visible to the unaided eye from dark-sky sites. On Wednesday night, Ehsan Rostamizadeh of Bidkhoun, Iran, photographed the comet passing by the Pleiades star cluster:
This gives backyard sky watchers a point of comparison: If you can see the Pleiades, you can probably see the comet, too.
A telescope pointed at Comet Lovejoy reveals a fantastic tail more than 10o long. Regular observers report striking dynamics: Earlier this month, a magnetic storm in the comet's tail caused a "disconnection event" and a blob of plasma to propagate down the long gaseous structure. Every time a gust of solar wind or a CME buffets the comet, something interesting happens. To monitor developments, consult the Comet Lovejoy finder charts from Sky & Telescope. Also, the Minor Planet Center has published an ephemeris for accurate pointing of telescopes.
Realtime Comet Photo Gallery
SPACE WEATHER BUOYS INVESTIGATE COSMIC RAYS: Did you know...? The flux of cosmic rays around Earth has been increasing for the past week. To investigate, spaceweather.com and the students of Earth to Sky Calculus are launching a series of Space Weather Buoys to the stratosphere. Carred aloft by helium balloons, each Buoy carrries a pair of radiation sensors, a GPS altimeter, and multiple cameras to record the flight. Here is the view from 111,100 feet captured by a Buoy launched on Jan. 10th:
In the lower right of this picture, visible through a wide gap in the clouds, is Bishop, CA, the small mountain town where most of the student researchers live. Spaceweather.com HQ is located in the Sierras overlooking Bishop, underneath a bank of white, fluffy clouds.
Another launch happened yesterday, Jan. 14th. By the end of the week we hope to share data showing how atmospheric radiation levels are responding to the ongoing uptick in cosmic rays.
Hey thanks! The Jan. 10th flight was made possible by a generous donation of $500 from spaceweather.com reader Jack Jewell. A picture of Jack crossing the finish line of a 50-mile ultramarathon flew to the stratosphere on top of the Bouy. Here it is in flight:
Readers, if you would like to follow in Jack's footsteps to the stratosphere by sponsoring a flight, please contact Dr. Tony Phillips to make arrangements.
Realtime Space Weather 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 Jan. 15, 2015, the network reported 4 fireballs.
(3 sporadics, 1 xi Coronae Borealid)
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 January 15, 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 || |
|2007 EJ || |
|1991 VE || |
|2015 AK1 || |
|2004 BL86 || |
|2008 CQ || |
|2000 EE14 || |
| ||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 |