They came from outer space--and you can have one! Genuine meteorites are now on sale in the Space Weather Store. They make a unique Valentine's gift.
| || |
COMET FLYBY: First images from last night's Stardust-NExT flyby of Comet Tempel 1 are coming in now. Tune into NASA TV for a press conference beginning at 12:45 pm PST (3:45 pm EST).
FIRST X-FLARE OF THE NEW SOLAR CYCLE: Sunspot 1158 has unleashed the strongest solar flare in more than four years. The eruption, which peaked at 0156 UT on Feb. 15th, registered X2 on the Richter scale of solar flares. NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory recorded an intense flash of extreme ultraviolet radiation, circled below:
movie formats: 5 MB gif, 1.3 MB iPad, 0.6 MB iPhone
X-flares are the strongest type of solar flare, and this is the first such eruption of new Solar Cycle 24. In addition to flashing Earth with UV radiation, the explosion also hurled a coronal mass ejection (CME) in our direction. The expanding cloud may be seen in this movie from NASA's STEREO-B spacecraft. Geomagnetic storms are possible when the CME arrives 36 to 48 hours hence. Stay tuned for updates.
SWEET AURORAS: Last night, as predicted, a gust of solar wind hit Earth's magnetic field, sparking bright Valentine's auroras around the Arctic Circle. Øystein Lunde Ingvaldsen sends this picture of the sweet lights over Bø in Vesterålen, Norway:
"It was a short but beautiful blast of Northern Lights," says Ingvaldsen. "Perhaps this is a preview of things to come later this week." Indeed, a series of CMEs en route to Earth from exploding sunspot 1158 are expected to arrive on Feb. 15th-17th, prompting bright displays at even lower latitudes. Sky watchers should be alert for auroras.
more images: from Gabi and Gunter Reichert of Sundklakkstraumen, Norway; from Tom Eklund of Valkeakoski, Finland; from Fredrik Broms of Kvaløya, Norway; from Martin McKenna of Glenshane Pass, N. Ireland; from Chad Blakley of Abisko National Park, Sweden; from Conor McDonald of Maghera, Northern Ireland; from B.Art Braafhart of Salla - Sallatunturi, Finnish Lapland;
February 2011 Aurora Photo Gallery
[previous Februaries: 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2004, 2003, 2002]
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 February 15, 2011 there were 1198 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 |