They came from outer space--and you can have one! Genuine meteorites are now on sale in the Space Weather Store.
METEOR SHOWER: Earth is approaching
the debris field of ancient Comet Thatcher, source
of the annual Lyrid
meteor shower. Forecasters expect the shower
to peak on April 21-22; a nearly-new moon on those
dates will provide perfect dark-sky conditions for
meteor watching. Usually the shower is mild (10-20
meteors per hour) but unmapped filaments of dust
in the comet's tail sometimes trigger outbursts
10 times stronger. [video]
EXPLOSION: Magnetic fields on the
sun's northeastern limb erupted around 17:45 UT
on April 16th, producing one of the most visually-spectacular
explosions in years. NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory
recorded the blast at extreme ultraviolet wavelengths:
The explosion, which registered M1.7
on the Richter
Scale of solar flares, was not Earth-directed.
A CME produced by the blast is likely to hit NASA's
STEREO-B spacecraft, but probably no planets.
This event confirms suspicions that
an active region of significance is rotating onto
the Earth-facing side of the sun. Stay tuned for
updates. Solar flare
UPDATE: Using data
from SDO, Steele Hill of NASA's Goddard Space Flight
Center has assembled a must-see
movie of the event. The movie shows the explosion
unfolding at 304 Angstroms, a wavelength which traces
plasma with a temperature around 80,000 K.
RINGS AT THEIR BEST: This week Saturn
is at opposition--directly opposite the sun in the
skies of Earth. The ringed planet rises at sunset
and soars high in the sky at
midnight, up all night long. Opposition is the
time when Saturn's rings are at their best. From
the point of view of Earth, shadows in the ring
plane almost completely disappear (just as your
own shadow tries to hide beneath your feet at noon)
and sunlight is directly backscattered by icy ring
particles toward our planet.
Amateur astronomer Christopher Go
photographed the brightening rings on April 12th:
"Saturn is close to opposition
and the rings are brightening. This is the Seeliger
Effect," says Go. "Also a Northern
Electrostatic Disturbance, which was detected by
Cassini a few days ago, can be seen as a white patch
north of the green belt."
Saturn is easy to find. Look south
at midnight. The ringed planet forms a "double
star" with Spica. [sky
more images: from
Efrain Morales Rivera of Aguadilla, Puerto Rico
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
all the time.
April 16, 2012 there were 1287
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.
official U.S. government space weather bureau
first place to look for information about sundogs,
pillars, rainbows and related phenomena.
call it a "Hubble for the sun." SDO
is the most advanced solar observatory ever.
views of the sun from NASA's Solar and Terrestrial
and archival images of the Sun from SOHO.
the NOAA Space Environment Center
underlying science of space weather