Thirty-five new items have just been added to our Meteorite Jewelry collection. Browse the Space Weather Store for something out of this world.
| || |
LYRID METEOR SHOWER: Earth is approaching the debris field of ancient Comet Thatcher, source of the annual Lyrid meteor shower. Forecasters expect the shower to peak on April 21-22; a nearly-new moon on those dates will provide perfect dark-sky conditions for meteor watching. Usually the shower is mild (10-20 meteors per hour) but unmapped filaments of dust in the comet's tail sometimes trigger outbursts 10 times stronger. [video] [Lyrid chat]
SOMETHING IN THE OFFING: A potentially significant active region is about to rotate onto the Earthside of the sun. A hot plume of plasma flying over the sun's northeastern limb heralded its approach during the early hours of April 15th:
Extreme UV image credit: NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory
The eruption hurled a coronal mass ejection toward NASA's STEREO-B spacecraft. Analysts at the Goddard Space Weather Lab have prepared a forecast track showing the progress of the cloud. No planets are in the line of fire.
Stay tuned for updates as the sun turns to reveal the active region in the days ahead. Solar flare alerts: text, phone.
SATURN'S RINGS AT THEIR BEST: On Sunday, April 15th, Saturn is at opposition--directly opposite the sun in the skies of Earth. The ringed planet rises at sunset and soars high in the sky at midnight, up all night long. This is the time when Saturn's rings are at their best. From the point of view of Earth, shadows in the ring plane almost completely disappear (just as your own shadow tries to hide beneath your feet at noon) and sunlight is directly backscattered by icy ring particles toward our planet.
Amateur astronomer Christopher Go photographed the brightening rings on April 12th:
"Saturn is close to opposition and the rings are brightening. This is the Seeliger Effect," says Go. "Also a Northern Electrostatic Disturbance, which was detected by Cassini a few days ago, can be seen as a white patch north of the green belt."
Saturn is easy to find. Look south at midnight. The ringed planet forms a "double star" with Spica. [sky map]
more images: from Efrain Morales Rivera of Aguadilla, Puerto Rico
WEEKEND AURORAS: For the third day in a row, a high-speed solar wind stream is buffeting Earth's magnetic field. On Saturday, April 14th, an intense burst of auroras appeared over Bodø, Norway:
"The lights went from nothing to extreme in a very short time," says photographer Sindre Nedrevåg. "The background was pretty, too: There was Venus and a lot of stars, together with the colours of the sunset. The auroras became so intense that even 3 seconds of exposure wasn't fast enough with my Nikon D300s at ISO 640."
NOAA forecasters estimate a 10% to 15% chance of more geomagnetic activity during the next 24 hours as the solar wind continues to blow.
more images: from Sylvain Serre of Ivujivik, Nunavik, Quebec, Canada; from Einar Halvorsrud of Alta, Norway; from Yuri Gnatyuk of Arkhangelsk, Russia; from Gregory Lacy of the Yukon River north of Fairbanks, Alaska; from Jónína Óskarsdóttir of Faskrudsfjordur, Iceland; from Eric Fokke of Norway, Lofoten; from Brian Tomlinson of Reykjavik Iceland; from B.Art Braafhart of Salla, Finnish Lapland;