Autumn is here, and it's a wonderful time for stargazing. Find out what's up from Spaceweather PHONE.
SOLAR ACTIVITY: An explosion on the sun yesterday produced a burst of 18-22 MHz radio waves so intense "it sounded like a freight train rolling through," says astronomer Thomas Ashcraft. He recorded the sounds using his shortwave radio telescope in New Mexico: listen.
An eruption behind the sun's limb, Nov. 7, 2006. Credit: SOHO.
The source of the blast was an active sunspot hiding just behind the sun's eastern limb. For days it has been erupting and throwing clouds of magnetized gas high above the sun's surface where we can see them. Soon, we'll see the sunspot itself. The sun's rotation is turning the spot toward Earth and it could emerge later today. Stay tuned.
TRANSIT OF MERCURY: On Wednesday, Nov. 8th, Mercury will pass directly in front of the sun--a rare transit visible from the Americas, Hawaii and all around the Pacific Rim. The action begins at 2:12 p.m. EST (11:12 a.m. PST) and lasts for nearly five hours.
The Transit of Mercury, simulated by graphic artist Larry Koehn.
Because Mercury is so small, only a tiny fraction of the sun will be covered. So don't stare at the sun on Wednesday--it will be as blinding as ever. Instead, try to view the event through a properly-filtered solar telescope. Mercury's tiny, jet-black silhouette passing in front of solar prominences, filaments and sunspots should be a marvelous sight.