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RADIATION STORM HITS MARS ROVER: En route to the red Planet, Mars rover Curiosity has experienced the strongest solar radiation storm since 2005. The rover is okay. Researchers say this is a normal part of Curiosity's job as 'stunt double' for human astronauts. [full story] [video]
CANYON OF FIRE: A magnetic filament snaking over the sun's northeastern limb rose up and erupted during the early hours of Feb. 24th. The eruption split the sun's atmosphere creating a "canyon of fire," shown here in a movie captured by the Solar Dynamics Observatory:
The glowing walls of the canyon are formed in a process closely related to that of arcade loops, which appear after many solar flares. Stretching more than 400,000 km from end to end, the structure traces the original channel where the filament was suspended by magnetic forces above the stellar surface.
As erupting magnetic filaments often do, this one launched a coronal mass ejection (CME) into space. The Solar and Heliospheric Observary recorded the expanding cloud: movie. The CME does not appear to be heading for Earth or any other planet.
WEEKEND SKY SHOW: When the sun goes down tonight, step outside and look west. Jupiter, Venus and the crescent Moon are converging for a beautiful three-way encounter in the sunset sky. Just hours ago, Rafael Schmall photographed the trio over Somogy, Hungary:
From upper left to lower right, the lights are Jupiter, Venus, and the Moon--all three bright enough to beam through wispy clouds.
On Saturday, Feb. 25th, the line will collapse to form a skinny triangle: sky map. It happens again on Sunday, Feb. 26th, with shifted vertices: sky map. Try to look before the sunset sky fades completely black. Venus, Jupiter and the Moon surrounded by twilight blue is an especially beautiful sight. This is such a nice event, NASA has issued a news release and video about it.
more images: from Azhy Hasan of Erbil city, Kurdistan, Iraq; from Marek Nikodem near Szubin, Poland; from Bernard Durand of Serre-Ponçon, France; from Russell Cockman of Black Rock, Melbourne, Australia; from Stefano De Rosa of Turin, Italy; from Mike O'Hara of Charlotte, North Carolina; from Ravindra Aradhya of Bangalore, India; from Kosma Coronaios of Louis Trichardt, South Africa; from Maximilian Teodorescu of Dumitrana, Romania; from Wienie van der Oord in the Negev desert; from Ali Al-Hajari of Isa Town, Bahrain; from P-M Hedén of Vallentuna, Sweden;
February 2012 Aurora Gallery
[previous Februaries: 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2004, 2003, 2002]