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RETURN TO QUIET: Solar activity is subsiding after last week's flurry of strong flares from sunspot 1283. The sunspot remains capable of M-class eruptions, but Earth would be unaffected by further blasts as the sunspot rotates over the sun's western limb. Solar flare alerts: text, voice.
WEEKEND AURORAS: A CME struck Earth's magnetic field on Sept. 9th, sparking more than 18 hours of bright auroras around the Arctic Circle. In Vallentuna, Sweden, photographer P-M Hedén condensed the display into a single time-lapse image:
"The auroras were wonderful," says Hedén. "I put together all the shots I got this photo. In addition to the auroras, it shows moonlit clouds, star trails, and an airplane circling around before landing at Arlanda airport."
Meanwhile in the United States, Northern Lights were spotted as far south as Michigan, Washington, Wisconsin, Vermont, Montana, Maine, Minnesota and North and South Dakota. A similar display could be in the offing on Sept. 12-13 when another CME from sunspot 1283 is expected to sail past Earth. NOAA forecasters estimate a ~10% chance that a glancing blow will trigger further geomagnetic storms.
UPDATE: Bright auroras were observed last night in Alaska and Canada in response to gentle buffeting from a solar wind stream. Images: from Brandon Lovett of Fairbanks, Alaska; from Yaron Eini of Denali, Alaska; from Claus Vogel of Pelly Crossing, Yukon; from Yuichi Takasaka of Yellowknife, NWT, Canada
September 2011 Aurora Gallery
[previous Septembers: 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004]
HARVEST MOON: Last night's full Moon was the "Harvest Moon"--so called because it occurs on the eve of the northern autumnal equinox. Before electric lights, farmers working after sunset relied on the light of the Harvest moon to help them gather ripening autumn crops. When the Harvest Mooon rose in the east last night hundreds of millions of people around the world watched it. Perhaps only one person, however, watched it from a hang glider:
Tamas Ladanyi took the picture while gliding over Lake Balaton in Hungary. "It was a spectacular sight," he says. "The Moon was even brighter during the landing manoeuvre."
more moonshots: from Stefano De Rosa of Turin (Italy); from Oleg Toumilovitch of Johannesburg, South Africa; from Tamas Abraham of Zsambek, Hungary; from Monika Landy-Gyebnar of Veszprem, Hungary; from David Sylvester of Hamilton, Montana; from Daisuke Tomiyasu of Ashiya city, Japan; from Heiko Ulbricht of Freital, Saxony, Germany; from I. Lembke of Friesland, Netherland;