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SOLAR ECLIPSE THIS WEEKEND: The Moon is about to take a bite out of the sun. On Saturday, August 11th, there will be a partial solar eclipse visible from locations around the Arctic Circle and across much of Asia. During the 3+ hour event, as much as 73% of the solar disk will be covered.
Movie credit: Larry Koehn of ShadowandSubstance.com
Selected cities in the eclipse zone include Moscow (2.1% coverage), Oslo (4.8%), Raykjavik (20%), Tromso (29%), and Seoul (35%). The view from population centers in South Korea could be especially beautiful because the eclipse will occur late in the day, producing a "crescent sunset" effect.
Warning: Do not stare at the partially eclipsed sun or look at it through any kind of unfiltered optics. Even a sliver of exposed sun can be blindingly bright. If you're in the eclipse zone, read these observing tips.
Realtime Eclipse Photo Gallery
'COMMON' RED SPRITES: In the Czech Republic, photographer Daniel Ščerba has spent much of the summer training his cameras on passing thunderstorms, hoping to catch strange forms of upward-directed lightning. On August 7th he recorded a huge cluster of red sprites:
"They sprang up from a mesoscale convective system (MCS) that was passing through southern Austria," says Ščerba. "I observed 7 groups like these over a 35 minute period."
The instigating thunderstorm was located about 380 km from Ščerba's camera, denoted by a white star in this regional lightning map:
380 km may sound like a great distance, but a bit of separation helps when it comes to observing sprites over the tops of towering thunderheads. Here's why.
As spectacular as the display was, Ščerba says he has seen many like it this summer. "This is a common occurrence," he remarks. "I have taken many pictures of sprites like these."
Solar minimum (happening now) may be boosting sprites. During this phase of the solar cycle, cosmic rays from deep space penetrate the sun's weakening magnetic defenses and enter Earth's atmosphere in greater numbers than usual. Some researchers believe that cosmic rays may provide the ionizing "spark" that triggers many sprites. If so, stay tuned for more as solar minimum deepens.
Realtime Sprite Photo Gallery
FAR-OUT OPTICS EXPERIMENT: Last week, the students of Earth to Sky Calculus flew a cosmic ray balloon to the stratosphere. A crystal globe went along for the ride. The young scientists wanted to see what Earth looked like when viewed through the spherical lens ... of Earth. Answer: very cool. Play the video to see for yourself:
You can have this globe for $149.95. The students are selling them to support their high-altitude balloon program. Each one comes with a greeting card showing the crystal sphere in flight and telling the story of its journey to the edge of space. All sales support the Earth to Sky Calculus cosmic ray ballooning program and hands-on STEM research.
Far Out Gifts: Earth to Sky Store
All sales support hands-on STEM education
Realtime Space Weather Photo Gallery
Realtime Aurora Photo Gallery
Realtime Noctilucent Cloud 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 Aug. 9, 2018, the network reported 67 fireballs.
(41 sporadics, 21 Perseids, 2 alpha Capricornids, 1 kappa Cygnid, 1 Northern delta Aquariid, 1 Southern delta Aquariid)
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 August 9, 2018 there were 1912 potentially hazardous asteroids.
| |Recent & Upcoming Earth-asteroid encounters:
|Asteroid || |
|2018 PR7 || |
|2018 OZ || |
|2018 PC || |
|2018 PW7 || |
|2018 LQ2 || |
|2016 GK135 || |
|2016 NF23 || |
|1998 SD9 || |
|2018 DE1 || |
|2001 RQ17 || |
|2015 FP118 || |
|2017 SL16 || |
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.
|2018 EB || |
| ||Cosmic Rays in the Atmosphere |
Readers, thank you for your patience while we continue to develop this new section of Spaceweather.com. We've been working to streamline our data reduction, allowing us to post results from balloon flights much more rapidly, and we have developed a new data product, shown here:
This plot displays radiation measurements not only in the stratosphere, but also at aviation altitudes. Dose rates are expessed as multiples of sea level. For instance, we see that boarding a plane that flies at 25,000 feet exposes passengers to dose rates ~10x higher than sea level. At 40,000 feet, the multiplier is closer to 50x. These measurements are made by our usual cosmic ray payload as it passes through aviation altitudes en route to the stratosphere over California.
What is this all about? Approximately once a week, Spaceweather.com and the students of Earth to Sky Calculus fly space weather balloons to the stratosphere over California. These balloons are equipped with radiation sensors that detect cosmic rays, a surprisingly "down to Earth" form of space weather. Cosmic rays can seed clouds, trigger lightning, and penetrate commercial airplanes. Furthermore, there are studies ( #1, #2, #3, #4) linking cosmic rays with cardiac arrhythmias and sudden cardiac death in the general population. Our latest measurements show that cosmic rays are intensifying, with an increase of more than 13% since 2015:
Why are cosmic rays intensifying? The main reason is the sun. Solar storm clouds such as coronal mass ejections (CMEs) sweep aside cosmic rays when they pass by Earth. During Solar Maximum, CMEs are abundant and cosmic rays are held at bay. Now, however, the solar cycle is swinging toward Solar Minimum, allowing cosmic rays to return. Another reason could be the weakening of Earth's magnetic field, which helps protect us from deep-space radiation.
The radiation sensors onboard our helium balloons detect X-rays and gamma-rays in the energy range 10 keV to 20 MeV. These energies span the range of medical X-ray machines and airport security scanners.
The data points in the graph above correspond to the peak of the Reneger-Pfotzer maximum, which lies about 67,000 feet above central California. When cosmic rays crash into Earth's atmosphere, they produce a spray of secondary particles that is most intense at the entrance to the stratosphere. Physicists Eric Reneger and Georg Pfotzer discovered the maximum using balloons in the 1930s and it is what we are measuring today.
| ||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 |
| ||fun to read, but should be taken with a grain of salt! Forecasts looking ahead more than a few days are often wrong. |
| ||from the NOAA Space Environment Center |
| ||the underlying science of space weather |
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