Metallic photos of the sun by renowned photographer Greg Piepol bring together the best of art and science. Buy one or a whole set. They make a stellar gift.
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SUBSIDING STORM: The geomagnetic storm of Dec. 28th is subsiding. The G1-class disturbance began when the interplanetary magnetic field (IMF) tipped south, opening a crack in Earth's magnetosphere and allowing solar wind to enter. Cameras onboard US Dept. of Defense meteorological satellites recorded bright bands of aurora borealis circling the polar regions north of Scandinavia:
Paul McCrone processed the data at the US Navy's Fleet Numerical Meteorology and Oceanography Center in Monterey, CA. "These images use both nighttime visual and infrared data from the DMSP satellites F17 and F18," he says. DMSP satellites are outfitted with low-light cameras capable of recording clouds, lightning, city lights and auroras after nightfall. Note in the image, above, how the brightest bands of aurora borealis rival the urban lights of some northern European cities. "It was a dramatic display," observes McCrone.
more images: from Chad Blakley of Abisko National Park, Sweden; from Fredrik Broms of Kvaløya, Norway; from Severin Sadjina of Vigra, Møre og Romsdal, Norway; from Bjarki Mikkelsen of Porjus, Sweden; from Helge Mortensen of Kvaløya, Norway; from Timo Newton-Syms of Ruka, Finland; from Rob Stammes of Laukvik Lofoten Norway
GIANT STORM ON SATURN: Got a telescope for Christmas? Point it at Saturn. A giant storm even brighter than Saturn's rings is raging through the planet's cloudtops. "I've never seen anything like this," says veteran planetary photographer Anthony Wesley. "It's possible that this is the biggest storm on Saturn in many decades." Here it is recorded by Wesley's 16-inch telescope on Dec. 22nd:
Instruments on NASA's Cassini spacecraft are picking up strong bursts of radio static. Apparently, lightning is being generated in multiple cells across the storm front. Cassini's cameras are also beaming back fantastic images of the tempest.
"At it's current size and brightness, the storm should be visible to anyone with a mid-size scope under steady seeing," continues Wesley. "This is a great time to be a planetary photographer." [Sky maps: Dec. 29, 30, 31]
more images: from Fredy Willems of Waipahu, Hawaii; from Glenn Jolly of Gilbert, Arizona; from Christopher Go of Cebu City, Philippines; from Sadegh Ghomizadeh of Tehran, Iran; from Vincent Lao of Pasig City, Philippines
Lunar Eclipse Photo Gallery
[NASA: "Solstice Lunar Eclipse"] [astronomy alerts]
November 2010 Aurora Gallery
[previous Novembers: 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000]
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 December 29, 2010 there were 1167 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 |