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TAURID METEOR WATCH: The annual Taurid meteor shower peaks Nov. 5th through 12th, and it could be a good show. 2008 is a "swarm year" for the Taurids: Earth is due to pass through a swarm of gritty debris from parent comet 2P/Encke. When the same thing happened in 2005, sky watchers observed a slow drizzle of midnight fireballs for nearly two weeks. Be alert for Taurids: sky map.
SUNSPOT 1007: "There is a lovely swirling plasma maelstrom approaching the sun's western limb," reports astrophotographer Pete Lawrence, who sends this picture from his backyard observatory in Selsey, UK:
Most of us call it "sunspot 1007." It is only the eighth sunspot of young Solar Cycle 24; it is also the biggest and most active. On Nov. 3rd and 4th, sunspot 1007 unleashed a series of B-class solar flares that bathed Earth's dayside in X-rays and caused ionospheric disturbances over Europe. After many months of deep solar minimum, the sun is finally showing signs of life.
Solar rotation is about to carry sunspot 1007 over the western limb where it can no longer be seen from Earth. Readers, if you have a solar telescope, catch the "lovely maelstrom" before it goes.
sunspot photos: from M. Ugro et al. of South Portland, Maine; from Robert Arnold of Isle of Skye, Scotland; from Stephen Ames of Hodgenville, Kentucky; from Pavol Rapavy of Rimavska Sobota, Slovakia; from Paul Maxson of Surprise, Arizona; from Guenter Kleinschuster of Feldbach, Styria, Austria;
KASATOCHI, WEEK 12: Twelve weeks ago in Alaska's Aleutian islands, the Kasatochi volcano erupted. More than a million tons of ash and sulfur dioxide rocketed into the stratosphere, giving rise to sunsets of rare beauty around the northern hemisphere. Those sunsets are still with us....
On Nov. 2nd, "we had another great Kasatochi sunset with bright light and colors!" reports P-M Hedén of Vallentuna, Sweden. He snapped this picture using a Canon 450D:
"This sunset has several volcanic hallmarks," says atmospheric optics expert Les Cowley. "Stratospheric ash and sulfate aerosols have scattered light near the horizon to produce an intense yellow twilight arch. Higher up, the sky shows signs of the purple light, a mixture of dust-scattered blue light and reddened sunset rays. Finally, to the left is a long dark shadow across the stratosphere where a low-hanging cloud over the horizon has blocked the sun’s light." (Note: The shadow is best seen in the full-sized photo.)
"It’s been 12 weeks since Kasotochi erupted. Some volcanoes have given years of colorful sunsets and, who knows, this one could also!"
more images: from Lionel Bernardi of Toulouse, France; from Aymen Ibrahem of Giza, Egypt: from Bizik Péter of Eger, Hungary; from Elaine Parker of Westover, Maryland; from Anne Patterson at the Dingle peninsula, Ireland; from Valentin Grigore of Targoviste, Romania; from John C McConnell of Maghaberry Northern Ireland.
Oct. 2008 Aurora Gallery
[Previous Octobers: 2007, 2006, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000]