Metallic photos of the sun by renowned photographer Greg Piepol bring together the best of art and science. Buy one or a whole set. They make a stellar gift.
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PHOBOS-GRUNT SIGNALS DECIPHERED: Russian analysts have deciphered some of the transmissions received from Phobos-Grunt on Nov. 24th. According to reports, however, the data do not reveal why the Mars probe failed to fire its main engines on Nov. 9th, when it should have left Earth orbit en route to the Red Planet. The window of opportunity to reach Mars has closed, but if Roscosmos (theRussian space agency) can regain control of Phobos-Grunt before it falls back into Earth's atmosphere, the spacecraft could be re-purposed for a different mission.
BLACK FRIDAY SOLAR ECLIPSE: Earlier today, Nov. 25th, the new Moon passed in front of the sun, slightly off-center, producing a partial solar eclipse visible from Antarctica, Tasmania, and parts of South Africa and New Zealand. Mike Nicholson photographed the event about two minutes before sunset from Otaki Beach, NZ:
"We were experiencing gale force Sou'westerlies when I took the picture," says Nicholson. "Low clouds plus flying salt and sand provided a natural filter to reduce the glare of the sun."
Maximum coverage occurred about 100 miles off the coast of Antarctica where the sun turned into a slender 9% crescent. Will any pictures be submitted from that remote location? Stay tuned.
more images: from James of Christchurch, New Zealand; from Joerg Schoppmeyer of Signal Hill, Cape Town; from Bonar Carson of Dunedin, New Zealand; from Peter Sayers of Penguin, Tasmania, Australia
NORTHERN LIGHTS: As winter approaches, days are growing short around the Arctic Circle. "Luckily we still have Northern Lights to illuminate our village," says Miika Sirkiä, who sends this picture from Kittilä in the Finnish Lapland on Nov. 24th:
"Around midnight, the auroras were very bright--enough to turn the river Ounasjoki green," says Sirkiä.
Auroras have been flickering around the Arctic Circle for several days. These displays are not caused by major solar activity. Instead, they are prompted by small magnetic fluctuations in the solar wind. The interplanetary magnetic field (IMF) near Earth tips south, partially canceling Earth's north-pointing magnetic field. Solar wind pours in, oh so briefly, to excite the Northern Lights. Aurora alerts: text, phone.
more images: from Andy Keen of Ivalo, Northern Lapland, Finland; from Thomas Achermann of Jerisjärvi, Muonio, Lapland, Finland; from Steve Milner of Ft. St. John, British Columbia; from Borkur Hrolfsson of Reykjavik, Iceland; from Eric Rock of Churchill, Manitoba; from Pavel Kantsurov of Norilsk, Russia;