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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QUIET SUN: Solar activity is low, with only a smattering of isolated C-flares occasionally breaking the quiet. NOAA: The chance of X-flares today is no more than 1%. Solar flare alerts: text, phone.
METEORS FROM HALLEY'S COMET: Earth is entering a stream of debris from Halley's Comet, source of the annual eta Aquarid meteor shower. Because the shower's radiant is located below the celestial equator, southern hemisphere observers are favored, but even northerners will be able to see at least a few flecks of Halley-dust disintegrating in the atmosphere when the shower peaks this weekend. The best time to look is during the hours before sunrise on Sunday, May 6th. Bright moonlight will cap the meteor rate at about 30 per hour.
In recent nights, NASA's all-sky meteor network has picked up a number of early eta Aquarid fireballs. This one was bright enough to shine through the glow of sunrise and clouds over Tullahoma, Tennessee, on April 29th:
According to analysts at NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office, this particular speck of comet dust hit the atmosphere traveling 62 km/s (139,000 mph) and disintegrated about 84 km (52 mi) above Earth's surface.
The full Moon of May 5-6, 2012, with interfere with the visibility of the eta Aquarid peak. Radar signals, however, penetrate moonlight with ease. Tune into Space Weather Radio for live echoes from eta Aquarids passing over the US Air Force Space Surveillance Radar in Texas.
SUNSPOT MIRAGE: Yesterday, May 1st, when the sun rose over Veszprem, Hungary, big sunspot AR1471 split into three pieces. "It was a mirage--the strongest I have ever seen!" says Monika Landy-Gyebnar, who photographed the apparition:
Landy-Gyebnar explains how she arranged this photo-op: "We had a nice, clear and windless morning. I set up my camera where I could see the sun rising over a cold valley where fog often collects; it is a location colder then its surroundings. I hoped the inversion layer at the valley would provide some distortion--and indeed it did. The image I saw when sun appeared was incredible!"
The entire event lasted no more than a few minutes, "but it seemed to be a century to me!" she says. A short animation of the mirage may be found here.
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 May 2, 2012 there were 1287 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 |