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UPDATE: NASA's bus-sized UARS satellite
returned to Earth sometime between 11:23 p.m. EDT
on Sept. 23rd and 1:09 a.m. EDT on Sept. 24th. There
are still no credible visual reports of the fireball.
At a post-reentry teleconference,
NASA officials showed a
map of the possible re-entry track. UARS could
have come down at any point along the green line,
which crosses vast regions of the Pacific Ocean,
North America, north Atlantic Ocean, Africa, and
southern Indian Ocean. Odds favor an ocean landing,
but no one knows the exact location of UARS debris.
X-FLARE: Behemoth sunspot 1302
unleashed another strong flare on Saturday morning--an
blast at 0940 UT. NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory
recorded the extreme ultraviolet flash:
The movie also shows a shadowy shock
wave racing away from the blast site. This is a
sign that the blast produced a coronal mass ejection
(CME). Analysts at the Goddard Space Weather Lab
say the CME could deliver a glancing blow to Earth's
magnetic field on Sept. 26 at 14:10 UT
(+/- 7 hours); click
here for an animated forecast track.
UPDATE: Sunspot AR1302
followed today's X2-flare with an M7-flare nearly
as strong (movie).
So far none of the blasts has been squarely Earth-directed,
but this could change as the sunspot turns toward
our planet in the days ahead. AR1302 is growing
and shows no immediate signs of quieting down. Solar
flare alerts: text,
SUNSPOT: New sunspot 1302 has already
produced two X-flares
(X1.4 on Sept. 22nd and X1.9 on Sept. 24th), can
another be far behind? NOAA forecasters put the
24-hour probability at 20%. The sheer size of the
active region suggests the odds might be even higher
Each of the dark cores in this snapshot
from the Solar Dynamics Observatory is larger than
Earth, and the entire active region stretches more
than 100,000 km from end to end. The sunspot's magnetic
field is crackling with sub-X-class flares that
could grow into a larger eruption as the sunspot
continues to turn toward Earth. Solar
flare alerts: text,
more images: from
Pavol Rapavy of Observatory Rimavska Sobota,
Cai-Uso Wohler of Bispingen, Germany; from
Jo Dahlmans of Ulestraten The Netherlands; from
P-M Hedén of Ålbo, Sweden; from
Howard Eskildsen of Ocala, Florida
2011 Aurora Gallery
[previous Septembers: 2010,
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.
September 24, 2011 there were 1250
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
out-of-this-world printing and graphics