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BRIGHT EXPLOSION ON THE MOON: Recently, a small boulder hit the Moon and exploded with as much energy as 5 tons of TNT. NASA scientists say the explosion was bright enough to see with the naked eye. [full story] [video]
WEEKEND CME STRIKES: Over the weekend, a pair of CMEs hit Earth--one on May 18th (0100 UT) and another on May 19th (2250 UT). The impacts, especially the first one, rattled Earth's magnetic field and sparked Northern Lights visible as far south as Colorado. Some of the brightest appeared over Cape Cod, Massachusetts, where photographer Chris Cook took this self-portrait:
"This is the first time since September 2005 that the lights have been visible from here," says Cook. " It was a beautiful display. During the peak, which lasted about 20 minutes, I could see red and pink pillars with my unaided eye." With only a short exposure, Cook's camera revealed the true depth of color shown above.
More auroras are possible tonight as Earth's magnetic field continues to reverberate from the impacts. NOAA forecasters estimate a 75% chance of polar geomagnetic storms on May 20th. Aurora alerts: text, voice.
Realtime Aurora Photo Gallery
WHAT'S IN THE OFFING? A new sunspot is approaching. For the past two days it has been crackling with flares and hurling material over the sun's northeast limb. NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory photographed these glowing magnetic loops marking the spot of an M1-class explosion during the early hours of May 20th:
The sunspot is on the sun's farside now, but solar rotation is carrying it in our direction. It a day or so it will emerge into view over the sun's eastern limb. Then, forecasters can evaluate its magnetic field and potential for additional flares. Stay tuned. Aurora alerts: text, voice.
HOW TO SEE THE FARSIDE OF THE SUN: If you have an iPhone 4s, iPhone 5, mini iPad or iPad2, you can monitor the farside of the sun. Just download the 3D Sun app for a nearly live 360-degree view of our star.
Realtime Space Weather Photo Gallery
Realtime Comet Photo Gallery
Realtime Noctilucent Cloud Photo Gallery
[previous years: 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011]
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 May 20, 2013 there were 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 |