They came from outer space--and you can have one! Genuine meteorites are now on sale in the Space Weather Store.
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GEOMAGNETIC OUTLOOK: NOAA forecasters estimate a 30% to 45% chance of strong geomagnetic storms around the poles on March 28-29 in response to an incoming solar wind stream. High-latitude sky watchers should be alert for auroras. Aurora alerts: text, phone.
ATREX EXPERIMENT LIGHTS UP THE NIGHT SKY: Before sunrise on March 27th, sky watchers up and down the eastern seaboard of the United States witnessed a strange apparition. A quintet of milky-white plumes appeared in the night sky, twisting in the winds at the edge of space. "It was pretty unreal and very exciting to see," says eye-witness Jack Fusco, who sends this picture from Seaside Park in New Jersey:
The plumes were chemical tracers (trimethyl aluminum) deposited in the upper reaches of Earth's atmosphere by five rockets launched rapid-fire from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. The goal of the experiment, named ATREX (Anomalous Transport Rocket Experiment), is to study 3D turbulence in the thermosphere.
"We saw the rockets lift off and then slowly release their chemicals, creating trails in the sky," reports Alice B. of Loudoun County, Virginia. "We could also see what I assume were the rocket remnants falling back to Earth."
"Once the chemical tracers from the rockets were released, the view was amazing," adds Bryan Lauber of Frenchtown, NJ. "The tracers were extremely bright and seemed to just fall out of the sky!"
more images: from Jeff Berkes of West Chester, PA; from Ray Maher of Maurice River Township, N.J; from Mark A. Brown of Carlisle, PA; from Robert T. Smith of Stoneville, NC; from Rich McPeters near Annapolis, Maryland; from Cliff Baldwin of Aquebogue, NY; from David Murr of Louisa, Virginia; from Jim Scott of Fleetwood, PA;
ANOTHER CME FROM SUNSPOT AR1429: Transiting the farside of the sun, never-say-die sunspot AR1429 erupted during the late hours of March 26th, producing its 11th major CME. The Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) photographed the cloud flying over the sun's eastern limb:
According to a forecast track prepared by analysts at the Goddard Space Weather Lab, the CME will hit two spacecraft, STEREO-B and Spitzer, on March 28th. Earth is not in the line of fire.
This event shows that AR1429, the source of several strong geomagnetic storms in early March, is still active. It will begin turning back toward our planet about a week from now. Stay tuned.
ROBOT SPACESHIP CHASES ISS: Europe's robotic supply ship, the Edoardo Amaldi (ATV-3), is chasing the International Space Station (ISS) around Earth. Marco Langbroek saw it at daybreak on March 24th flying over the rooftops of his neighborhood in Leiden, the Netherlands:
"The ATV-3 was very bright and easily visible to the naked-eye, nothwithstanding the bright twilight (the sun was less than 7o below the horizon)," says Langbroek. "It was about magnitude 0 to -1.5, and somewhat orange in color. A video of the flyby may be found here."
Launched on March 23rd laden with almost 7000 lb of supplies, the cargo carrier is expected to dock with the ISS on March 28th. As the two spacecraft converge, it might be possible to see them both in the sky at once. Check SpaceWeather.com's Simple Satellite Tracker or your cell phone to see if you are favored with a double flyby.
February 2012 Aurora Gallery
[previous Februaries: 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2004, 2003, 2002]