Five days after it was discovered, the dark mark in Jupiter's cloudtops
where an asteroid or comet hit the giant planet is still easy to
see through backyard telescopes. Browse these links for recent images:
AURORAS OVER NEBRASKA:
"This past Wednesday, I spent the night
at at the Nebraska Star Party in Valentine, Nebraska," says
amateur astronomer Howard Edin. "Just after midnight I noticed
a pale arc of clouds in the north; after staring for a while I realized
they were not clouds," A 30-second exposure he made using his
40D revealed the nature of the phenomenon:
"It was the aurora borealis," he says.
Although he didn't know it at the time, a solar wind stream had
just hit Earth's magnetic field, sparking bright
auroras over Canada and several northern-tier US states. Nebraska
was at the outer limit of the display, so the auroral colors were
too dim for human vision, but a digital camera picked them up quite
Memo to astrophotographers: Auroras can be a great deep-sky target.
Sign up for geomagnetic storm
alerts, and you'll always know when to open the shutter.
2009 Aurora Gallery
[previous Julys: 2008,
OVER OREGON: "Last night, July 23rd,
we stepped outside to watch an ISS flyover,
but that performance was outstaged by one of the most spectacular
NLC displays I've ever witnessed!" reports Paul Wagner of Portland,
Oregon. The electric-blue clouds were almost as bright as some of
the porch lights in his neighborhood:
Andrew Robb saw the same display: "They came through like
a storm. These were the brightest noctilucent clouds I've seen yet
over the Portland area, and they really had a nice
variety of forms. What a sight!"
This is the second time in July that bright noctilucent clouds
have descended from their usual arctic habitat to the continental
United States. Sightings have been made in Colorado, Utah, Washington,
Oregon, Nebraska, Nevada and many other states where the night sky
does not usually turn electric-blue. No one knows why the mysterious
clouds are spreading south, but they are; observers at all latitudes
should be alert for NLCs.
Noctilucent Photo Gallery
[previous years: 2008,
22nd Eclipse Gallery
[previous eclipses: Jan
26, 2009; Aug.
1, 2008; Mar. 19,
the Sunspot Cycle