Learn to photograph Northern Lights like a pro. Sign up for Peter Rosen's Aurora Photo Courses in Abisko National Park.
| || |
BRIGHT FIREBALL, POSSIBLE METEORITE FALL: Last night, March 15th, a meteor exploded over Switzerland and southern Germany. The fireball was brighter than the full Moon and it produced loud sonic booms – a sign it penetrated deep in the atmosphere and may have dropped meteorites on the ground. The International Meteor Organization is gathering eyewitness reports through their new online reporting tool. European readers, if you witnessed this event, please report it. Your sighting could help pinpoint the landing zone of possible meteorites.
GREEN SKIES FOR ST. PATRICK'S DAY? Yesterday, a CME billowed away from the sun's western limb: SOHO movie. The massive cloud could deliver a glancing blow to our planet's magnetic field on March 17th, filling Arctic skies with green auroras just in time for St. Patrick's Day. NOAA forecasters estimate a 40% chance of geomagnetic storms on March 17th, increasing to 60% on March 18th as Earth passes through the CME's turbulent wake.
The incoming CME was propelled into space by sunspot AR2297. During the early hours of March 15th, the sunspot's magnetic canopy erupted in tandem with a nearby magnetic filament. The ensuing C9-class solar flare was beautifully captured in this movie from NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory:
The sun looks green in this movie not because of St. Patrick's Day. Instead, it is because the Solar Dynamics Observatory uses extreme ultraviolet filters to photograph the sun. Green is one of the false colors scientists have selected to make these UV images visible to the human eye.
More eruptions are in the offing. Although sunspot AR2297 has decayed in recent days, it still has a 'beta-gamma-delta' magnetic field that harbors energy for strong flares. NOAA forecasters estimate a 70% chance of an M-class event on March 16th. Solar flare alerts: text, voice
Realtime Space Weather Photo Gallery
CROP CIRCLES ARE REAL: On March 13th, Spaceweather.com and the students of Earth to Sky Calculus launched a Space Weather Buoy carrying 4 radiation sensors to the stratosphere. The purpose of the flight was to measure cosmic ray levels ahead of any incoming CMEs from sunspot AR2297. One day later, March 14th, team members hiked into the Coso Range Wilderness Area to recover the payload from its desert landing site. En route, they found some "crop circles":
These circular patterns appeared around many clumps of grass sprouting out of the desert floor. They are formed by gusts of wind pushing the blades of grass back and forth. The tips scratch circular furrows in the soft sand.
Previous Space Weather Buoys have carried no more than two radiation sensors. This one carried four. A key goal of the flight was to cross-calibrate these sensors so that we can use them not only on high-altitude balloons, but also on airplanes, where we will investigate the effect of cosmic rays on air travelers. The new sensors were purchased using proceeds from the recent sale of "space seeds" here on Spaceweather.com. The students would like to thank all gardeners who helped crowd-fund this research!
For more information about Earth to Sky Calculus and the space weather research they do, please click here.
AURORA OUTBURST: Over the weekend, sky watchers around the Arctic Circle witnessed a magnificent outburst of auroras. "It was utterly amazing," reports Oliver Wright of Abisko, Sweden. "March 14-15 was the best I've seen in years of night photography." He took this picture just as the storm was getting started:
"Later, the auroras exploded and just filled the sky!" he said.
Chad Blakley, an aurora tour guide in Abisko National Park, says "I have seen some very impressive displays during all of the years that I have been living in Abisko, but this particular show was truly one of a kind." Using a high speed camera, he captured a must-see movie which Blakley says "closely represents what we saw with our own eyes."
Aurora outbursts are often caused by CMEs. In this case however, a CME was not responsible. Instead, the interplanetary magnetic field (IMF) around Earth tipped south. This opened a crack in Earth's magnetic field. Solar wind poured in to fuel the display. Aurora alerts: text, voice
Realtime Aurora Photo Gallery
Realtime Space Weather 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 Mar. 16, 2015, the network reported 13 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 March 16, 2015 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.
| ||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 |