Lights Over lapland is excited to announce that Autumn Aurora Adventures are available for immediate booking! Reserve your adventure of a lifetime in Abisko National Park, Sweden today!
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ANIMATED SOLAR ECLIPSE MAPS: The Great American Solar Eclipse is less than one month away. How much of the sun will be covered over your home town? A great way to find out: Animated eclipse maps created by science-artist Larry Koehn. On his web site, there are individual maps for all 50 US states as well as little-known eclipse zones in Canada and Europe. Check it out!
GIGANTIC JETS OVER HAWAII: Every night, the Gemini cloudcam atop Mauna Kea in Hawaii monitor storms approaching some of the world's largest telescopes. It often captures bright bolts of lightning lancing down to the ground below the towering dormant volcano. On July 24th it captured something lancing up:
"This amazing lightning-like phenomenon is known as a Gigantic Jet," says Frankie Lucena of Puerto Rico, who processed the video. "They are related to sprites, but more powerful and easier to see with the naked eye."
Cloudcam video caught at least three of these jets springing from the tops of a powerful growing thunderstorm. The tallest of them reached all the way to the ionosphere some 80 km overhead.
"Gigantic Jets are much more rare than sprites," says Oscar van der Velde, a member of the Lightning Research Group at the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya. "While sprites were discovered in 1989 and have since been photographed by the thousands, it was not until 2001-2002 that Gigantic Jets were first recorded from Puerto Rico and Taiwan." Only a few dozen Gigantic Jets have ever been seen, mostly over open ocean.
Sometimes called "space lightning," Gigantic Jets and their cousins the sprites are true space weather phenomena. They inhabit the upper atmosphere alongside auroras, meteors and noctilucent clouds. Some researchers believe they are linked to cosmic rays: subatomic particles from deep space striking the top of Earth's atmosphere produce secondary electrons that could, in turn, provide the spark for these upward bolts.
The link to cosmic rays is particularly interesting at this time. For the past two years, space weather balloons have observed a steady increase in deep space radiation penetrating our atmosphere. This increase is largely due to the decline in the solar cycle. Flagging solar wind pressure and weakening sunspot magnetic fields allow more cosmic rays into the inner solar system--a trend which is expected to continue for for years to come. These changes could add up to more Gigantic Jets in the future. Stay tuned!
Realtime Sprite Photo Gallery
SOLAR ECLIPSE SPACE PENDANTS: Would you like to support our Solar Eclipse Balloon Network? Here's one way: Buy a space pendant. This solar eclipse-themed necklace flew to the stratosphere on July 2, 2017, attached to the payload of an Earth to Sky Calculus space weather balloon:
The payload contained more just like it. If you buy one now for $79.95, we will fly it back to the stratosphere during the Great American Solar Eclipse on August 21, 2017, where it will be enveloped by the Moon's cool shadow above our launch site in Oregon. No additional charge! Just make a note in the COMMENTS BOX of the shopping cart: "Please fly my pendant into the eclipse!" Each pendant comes with a greeting card showing the jewelry in flight and telling the story of its journey to the stratosphere and back again.
More items from the edge of space may be found in the Earth to Sky Store. All proceeds support atmospheric radiation monitoring and hands-on STEM education.
Far Out Gifts: Earth to Sky Store
All proceeds support hands-on STEM education
"WHITE SUNSPOT": Sunspot numbers have dropped to zero this week as dark cores associated with sunspot activity have vanished. Instead of dark spots, the sun has a light spot. NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory photographed this sprawling "white sunspot" on July 25th:
The correct name of this phenomenon is "faculae." It is a cousin of sunspots.
Regular dark sunspots are magnetic islands on the surface of the sun. Magnetic fields in these areas are typically thousands of times stronger than Earth's magnetic field. Sunspot magnetic fields are so strong, they block the flow of heat from the nuclear furnace below. They appear dark because they are relatively cool compared to their surroundings.
Faculae are also made of magnetic fields. However, the magnetism of faculae is concentrated in much smaller bundles than in sunspots. Instead of blocking heat from below, they essentially form corridors that allow us to see into sun's hot interior, creating an apparent bright spot on the surface of the sun.
These bright structures are more common than you might think. During the peak of a sunspot cycle, faculae actually win out over sunspots and make the sun appear slightly (about 0.1%) brighter at Solar Maximum than at Sunspot Minimum. Free: Solar Flare Alerts
Realtime Space Weather Photo Gallery
Realtime Noctilucent Cloud Photo Gallery
Realtime Aurora 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 Jul. 26, 2017, the network reported 34 fireballs.
(29 sporadics, 2 Perseids, 2 Southern delta Aquariids, 1 alpha Capricornid)
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 July 26, 2017 there were 1803 potentially hazardous asteroids.
| |Recent & Upcoming Earth-asteroid encounters:
|Asteroid || |
|2017 OO1 || |
|2017 OL1 || |
|2017 BS5 || |
|2017 OM1 || |
|2017 OE1 || |
|2011 CC22 || |
|2014 OA339 || |
|3122 || |
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.
|2014 RC || |
| ||Cosmic Rays in the Atmosphere |
Readers, thank you for your patience while we continue to develop this new section of Spaceweather.com. We've been working to streamline our data reduction, allowing us to post results from balloon flights much more rapidly, and we have developed a new data product, shown here:
This plot displays radiation measurements not only in the stratosphere, but also at aviation altitudes. Dose rates are expessed as multiples of sea level. For instance, we see that boarding a plane that flies at 25,000 feet exposes passengers to dose rates ~10x higher than sea level. At 40,000 feet, the multiplier is closer to 50x. These measurements are made by our usual cosmic ray payload as it passes through aviation altitudes en route to the stratosphere over California.
What is this all about? Approximately once a week, Spaceweather.com and the students of Earth to Sky Calculus fly space weather balloons to the stratosphere over California. These balloons are equipped with radiation sensors that detect cosmic rays, a surprisingly "down to Earth" form of space weather. Cosmic rays can seed clouds, trigger lightning, and penetrate commercial airplanes. Furthermore, there are studies ( #1, #2, #3, #4) linking cosmic rays with cardiac arrhythmias and sudden cardiac death in the general population. Our latest measurements show that cosmic rays are intensifying, with an increase of more than 13% since 2015:
Why are cosmic rays intensifying? The main reason is the sun. Solar storm clouds such as coronal mass ejections (CMEs) sweep aside cosmic rays when they pass by Earth. During Solar Maximum, CMEs are abundant and cosmic rays are held at bay. Now, however, the solar cycle is swinging toward Solar Minimum, allowing cosmic rays to return. Another reason could be the weakening of Earth's magnetic field, which helps protect us from deep-space radiation.
The radiation sensors onboard our helium balloons detect X-rays and gamma-rays in the energy range 10 keV to 20 MeV. These energies span the range of medical X-ray machines and airport security scanners.
The data points in the graph above correspond to the peak of the Reneger-Pfotzer maximum, which lies about 67,000 feet above central California. When cosmic rays crash into Earth's atmosphere, they produce a spray of secondary particles that is most intense at the entrance to the stratosphere. Physicists Eric Reneger and Georg Pfotzer discovered the maximum using balloons in the 1930s and it is what we are measuring today.
| ||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 |
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| ||fun to read, but should be taken with a grain of salt! Forecasts looking ahead more than a few days are often wrong. |
| ||from the NOAA Space Environment Center |
| ||the underlying science of space weather |
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