When is the best time to see auroras? Where is the best place to go? And how do you photograph them? These questions and more are answered in a new book, Northern Lights - a Guide, by Pal Brekke & Fredrik Broms.
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X3-CLASS SOLAR FLARE: Earth-orbiting satellites have just detected an X3-class solar flare from big sunspot AR1890 (Nov. 5th @ 2212 UT). NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory recorded the extreme ultraviolet flash:
Although this flare was intense, it was also very brief. This will mitigate any Earth effects. For instance, any radio blackouts caused by ionization of Earth's upper atmosphere will likely be short-lived. Stay tuned for updates. Solar flare alerts: text, voice.
BIG SUNSPOT TURNS TOWARD EARTH: One of the biggest sunspots of the current solar cycle emerged over the sun's eastern limb three days ago and now it is turning toward Earth. This movie from NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory shows the approach of sunspot AR1890:
AR1890 has an unstable 'beta-gamma-delta' magnetic field that harbors energy for strong explosions. NOAA forecasters estimate a 45% chance of M-class solar flares and a 10% chance of X-flares on Nov. 5th. Solar flare alerts: text, voice.
Realtime Space Weather Photo Gallery
INDIA LAUNCHES MOM TO MARS: Congratulations to the space agency of India for their successful launch of the Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) on Nov. 5th. Also known as "Mangalyaan," the spacecraft will spend the next ten months traveling to Mars on a mission to study the planet's surface, atmosphere and moons. Mangalyaan's solar panels have been deployed, and Indian officials report all subsystems have been powered up and are healthy. [more]
SOLAR ECLIPSE: On Sunday morning, Nov. 3rd, the New Moon passed in front of the sun, producing a solar eclipse visible from the east Coast of North America to the western side of Africa. Photographer Ben Cooper experienced the event in a way few people ever have--by racing across the path of totality in a jet airplane. "We used a Falcon 900B jet to intercept this extremely short eclipse with a perpendicular crossing of the eclipse path," Cooper says. He took this picture flying 43,000 feet over the Atlantic Ocean:
Many eclipse chasers didn't bother chasing this particular eclipse because it was so short--in some places lasting only a matter of seconds. Cooper was among a dozen on board the jet who were determined to experience totality. "There was zero margin for error, with the plane, traveling near 600mph and hitting the eclipse shadow where it touched down on Earth at some 8,000 mph, required to hit a geographic point over the ocean at a precise instant," he says. "We arrived at our destination about 1 second late, so we observed even less of the eclipse than we expected. In total, we got an instantaneous totality of nearly zero seconds!" More information about the flight may be found here.
After crossing the Atlantic, the narrow path of totality touched several African nations including Gabon, the Congo, Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia. Observers across a much wider area witnessed a partial eclipse. Particular beautiful were the sunrise scenes experienced by early risers along the east coast of the USA. Browse the gallery for many more images. Webmaster's favorites
Realtime Solar Eclipse Photo Gallery
RE-DISCOVERING THE PFOTZER MAXIMUM: On Oct. 27th, when the students of Earth to Sky Calculus launched a pair of radiation sensors to the stratosphere onboard a helium balloon, they didn't know what to expect. This just in: They have re-discovered the Pfotzer Maximum. Most people have never heard of it. The Pfotzer Maximum is a layer of peak radiation about 20 km above Earth's surface. Take a look at this data plot from the team's space weather balloon and keep reading below for more information:
The plot shows a complete profile of ionizing radiation between 2.7 km and 27 km above Earth's surface. Data from their sensor counted X-rays and gamma-rays in the energy range 10.0 KeV to 20.0 MeV. A peak in radiation levels occured in the tropopause--that's the Pfotzer Maximum.
When cosmic rays crash into Earth's atmosphere, they produce a spray of secondary particles. With increasing depth in the atmosphere, the primary cosmic radiation component decreases, whereas the secondary radiation component increases. This complex situation results in a maximum of the dose rate at an altitude of ~20 km, the so-called "Pfotzer maximum," named after physicist George Pfotzer who discovered the peak using balloons and Geiger tubes in the 1930s.
The Earth to Sky experiment was prompted by a recent NASA report concerning the effects of space weather on aviation. Like astronauts, ordinary air travelers can be exposed to significant doses of radiation when the sun is active. Data collected by balloon-borne sensors can be used to check and improve research models of radiation percolating through Earth's atmosphere.
The students are ready to fly their sensors again. A radiation storm in the week ahead is a possibility as solar activity remains high. If one erupts, they plan to revisit the Pfotzer Maximum to find out how it reacts. Stay tuned. Solar flare alerts: text, voice.
Realtime Space Weather Photo Gallery
Realtime Comet ISON Photo Gallery
Realtime Aurora 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 Nov. 4, 2013, the network reported 12 fireballs.
(8 sporadics, 3 Northern Taurids, 1 Orionid)
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 November 5, 2013 there were 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 |