THE ISS? Sky watchers are reporting a "mysterious
satellite" following the International Space Station. It trails
the ISS by about one minute, relatively faint, but definitely there.
Mystery solved: The follower is Progress 33, a Russian supply ship.
On July 12th, it will come within meters of the space station to
test a new automated docking system. Check the Simple
Satellite Tracker for flyby times--and get two spaceships for
the price of one.
Ralf Vandebergh of Wittem, the Netherlands; from
Jun Lao of Deerfield Township, Ohio
Yesterday, sunspot 1024 took the day off;
the fast-growing active region stopped growing and even decayed
a little. Today, the sunspot is growing again: movie.
It now measures 125,000 km from end to end, almost as wide as the
planet Jupiter. Fulvio Mete sends this picture from his backyard
observatory in Rome, Italy:
The size of the spot makes it a fine target for amateur solar
telescopes. And it is worth watching. Sunspot 1024 is the first
big sunspot of new Solar Cycle 24, and it is crackling with minor
but photogenic B-class
flares. By itself, this one active region won't bring an end to
the deepest solar minimum in a century, but it does show that the
sun's magnetic dynamo is still working--a fact some had begun to
doubt. More sunspots are coming, so stay tuned.
more images: from
Stefano Sello of Pisa, Italy; from
Andy Yeung of Hong Kong; from
John Nassr of Baguio, Philippines; from
Ehsan Rostamizadeh of Kerman, Iran; from
Pavol Rapavy of Observatory Rimavska Sobota, Slovakia; from
Steve Wainwright of Swansea South Wales, UK; from
Keith Davies of Swansea, South Wales, United Kingdom; from
David Leong of Hong Kong; from
Peter Desypris on the Island of Syros, Greece;
BLUE MOON OVER IRAN:
A severe dust storm so large that it is
from space is blowing across Iran. Government officials have
closed schools, cancelled flights, and warned the elderly and children
to stay indoors. The only good thing about the storm is that it
is turning the Moon a pleasing shade of blue:
Amir H. Abolfath took the picture from Tehran on July 7th. "I
thought blue moons were a myth," he says, "but there it
Yes, blue moons are real.
They appear when the air is filled with fine particles of dust (or
other aerosols) about 1 micron in diameter. This is just the right
size to make dusty air act as a blue color filter. Because the dust
storm is so large, blue moons could be a regular fixture in the
Persian sky for some nights to come.
more images: from
Farzad Zamanfar of Tehran, Iran; from
Mohamad Soltanolkottabi of Esfahan, Iran;
Sarychev Sunset Gallery
[See also: 2008
Kasatochi Sunset Photo Gallery]
Noctilucent Photo Gallery
[previous years: 2008,
the Sunspot Cycle