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SUNSPOT OF INTEREST: Solar activity is low, but sunspot AR2305 is poised to break the quiet. The growing active region has developed a 'beta-gamma-delta' magnetic field that harbors energy for X-class solar flares. AR2305 is facing Earth, so any eruptions on March 26th would surely be geoeffective. Solar flare alerts: text, voice
WHAT'S GOING ON IN THE STRATOSPHERE? Lately, Spaceweather.com and the students of Earth to Sky Calculus have been launching a lot of Space Weather Bouys. The missions aim to solve a minor mystery in the stratosphere. On March 17th, a CME hit Earth's magnetic field, sparking the strongest geomagnetic storm of the current solar cycle. Shortly after the CME hit, ground-based neutron monitors measured a drop in cosmic rays. Here is an example from the monitoring station in Oulu, Finland:
This drop is called a "Forbush Decrease." It happens because the CME sweeps aside cosmic rays that normally surround Earth, causing radiation levels to drop. The Earth to Sky space weather ballooning program has measured two previous Forbush Decreases, on Sept 13th and Dec 21st, 2014. On both occasions, radiation levels in the stratosphere dropped in sync with neutron counts on the ground.
This time, however, was different. Instead of dropping, radiation in the stratosphere ticked upward. At least that is what the Space Weather Buoys are telling us. This particular buoy was launched on March 17th during the peak of the geomagnetic storm:
So far, the student team has launched balloons with radiation sensors on March 13th, March 17th, March 21st, and March 24th; and more launches in the offing. By sampling the response of the stratosphere to the great storm--both the initial impact and the rebound--they hope to unravel the puzzle. After a few more flights, the team will share the full data set with the public.
This is crowd-funded research. Every one of Earth to Sky's flights is sponsored by a private individual or company. In exchange for a $500 donation, sponsors can have their logo or favorite family photo transported to the edge of space. Readers, if you would like to contribute to the research, please contact Dr. Tony Phillips for details.
Realtime Space Weather Photo Gallery
CHASING MOON SHADOWS: Total eclipses of the sun are achingly brief. The Moon's shadow races across the landscape at thousands of kilometers per hour, enveloping sky watchers for a matter of minutes at most. On March 20th, when the Moon passed in front of the sun over the Arctic Ocean, a few observers extended the experience--in an airplane. "Flying at 14,000 m was an incredible way to watch the eclipse," reports Sylvain Chapeland. "Our velocity of 950 km/h allowed an extra minute of totality." She recorded this must-see video over a stretch of ocean between Iceland and the Faroe Islands:
"I have never seen anything like the shadow of the Moon rushing upon us during totality, overtaking us and continuing its path at 3000 km/h," says Chapeland. "This was a dramatic perspective. Our view of the sun's corona with Venus shining on the east side were incredible."
Want to spend even more time in the shadow of the Moon? Take your time browsing Spaceweather.com's solar eclipse photo gallery:
Realtime Eclipse Photo Gallery
Realtime Aurora Photo Gallery
Realtime Comet Photo Gallery
Every night, a network of NASA all-sky cameras scans the skies above the United States for meteoritic fireballs. Automated software maintained by NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office calculates their orbits, velocity, penetration depth in Earth's atmosphere and many other characteristics. Daily results are presented here on Spaceweather.com.
On Mar. 26, 2015, the network reported 9 fireballs.
In this diagram of the inner solar system, all of the fireball orbits intersect at a single point--Earth. The orbits are color-coded by velocity, from slow (red) to fast (blue). [Larger image] [movies]
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 March 26, 2015 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 |