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CMEs WILL MISS EARTH: A pair of CMEs hurled into space on July 19-20 by a cluster of explosions in sunspot complex AR2565-AR2567 will not hit Earth. NOAA analysts have determined that the storm clouds will miss our planet. Solar flare alerts: text or voice
EXIT STAGE RIGHT: After nearly two weeks spent staring at Earth with the unrealized menace of strong flares, big sunspots AR2565 and AR2567 are departing. "Exit stage right," says Alan Friedman, who photographed the dark cores approaching the sun's western limb from his backyard observatory in Buffalo, NY:
"They put on a wonderful performance," says Friedman.
Photographically, that is true. The sunspots were easy targets for backyard solar telescopes and posed for some excellent photos. Energetically, however, they underwhelmed. Aside from a brief flurry of barely-M-class flares on July 20-21, the sunspots have done little to increase the storminess of space weather.
The quiet should grow even deeper in the days ahead as the sunspots disappear over the sun's limb. NOAA forecasters estimate a 35% chance of M-class flares on July 22nd waning to 15% on July 24th.
Realtime Space Weather Photo Gallery
THE SPHERICAL MILKY WAY: Spaceweather.com and the students of Earth to Sky Calculus regularly fly a Ricoh Theta S camera onboard helium balloons to take spherical photos at the edge of space. Turns out, this camera works great at sea level, too. Last week on the island of La Palma, photographers Karoline Mrazek and Erwin Matys used one to photograph the Milky Way. To see the results, click on the theta:
"The interactive spherical image shows the bright galactic center above the pitch black volcanic landscape of La Palma," says Mrazek and Matys. "The full band of the Milky Way is clearly visible as it crosses the zenith."
"This proves that it is possible to shoot low-light celestial objects such as the milky way and the zodiacal light with the Theta S. We did 25 exposures of 60 seconds at ISO 800 each for the sky and for the landscape. The individual images were stacked with Deep Sky Stacker and the two stacks were combined with Photoshop."
Mrazek and Matys are founding members of the astrophotography group project nightflight. They've been testing the Ricoh Theta S in many settings for night-sky photography. Their complete report on spherical astrophotography is highly recommended. Read it here.
AFTER THE STORM, MAMMATUS CLOUDS: Yesterday, a severe thunderstorm swept through St Claude, Manitoba, drenching the landscape and cutting power to residents. "While waiting for power to be restored, I noticed these cloud formations drifting serenely overhead," reports Paul Moffat. "It seemed to make the storm's fury worthwhile."
These are mammatus clouds. Named for their resemblance to a cow's underbelly, they often appear around the unstable edges of severe thunderstorms. Researchers have called mammatus clouds an "intriguing enigma," because they have not been studied as much as other clouds, and there is much uncertainty about how they form.
Photographers and artists have long valued mammatus clouds for their strangely beautiful appearance. Indeed, Gedzelman (1989) notes that the pendulous lobes appear in paintings as early as the 1500s. Mammatus clouds often go unnoticed because potential observers have been chased indoors by the rain. If you are one of them, go back outside when the downpour stops; you could witness a beautiful mystery in the sky.
Realtime Space Weather Photo Gallery
Realtime Aurora Photo Gallery
Realtime Noctilucent Cloud Photo Gallery
Realtime Sprite 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 Jul. 22, 2016, the network reported 113 fireballs.
(112 sporadics, 1)
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 July 22, 2016 there were 1713 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.
| ||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 |
| ||Tobi -- Proud Supporter of Space Education! |
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