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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EVENING CONJUNCTION: When the sun sets tonight, go outside and look up for Jupiter and the Moon. The two bright heavenly bodies are only ~4o apart, a beautiful conjunction and a nice way to end the day. Images: #1, #2, #3, #4, #5.
FARSIDE ERUPTION: Departing sunspot AR1384, currently located just behind the sun's western limb, erupted today around 14:45 UT. NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory photographed the debris flying over the edge of the solar disk:
The eruption appears to be connected to magnetic filaments snaking over the horizon to the Earthside of the sun. Will this event affect our planet? Probably not. It is located too far from disk center. Stay tuned, however, to see what kind of CME the blast produced.
NEW YEAR'S FIREBALL: The first bright fireball of the New Year streaked over the southwestern USA on Jan. 1st at 03:15 UT. It was visible from Arizona, Colorado and New Mexico. "I was able to see it out my window," reports amateur astronomer Thomas Ashcraft from his rural observatory outside of Santa Fe. "It was brilliant turquoise blue." Ashcraft operates a combination all-sky camera/forward-scatter meteor radar system, which captured the fireball's flight. Click on the image to play the movie--and don't forget to turn up the volume to hear the ghostly radar echo:
Cameras belonging to NASA's All-Sky Fireball Network also recorded the fireball from multiple locations. An orbit calculated from those data show that the fireball was a random meteoriod hailing from the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. It hit Earth's atmosphere at 26 km/s (58,000 mph), which is relatively slow compared to other meteoroids, and disintegrated 82 km above Earth's surface.
"This was an auspicious start to 2012," says Ashcraft. "Clear skies and Happy New Year!"
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 2, 2012 there were 1272 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 |