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STORM: Accelerated by yesterday's
X-flare, energetic protons from the sun are swarming
around Earth on Jan. 28th. The radiation storm ranks
on NOAA scales, which means this is not a severe
storm. Nevertheless, it can still affect spacecraft
and satellites at the nuisance level. For instance,
image from SOHO is clouded by protons hitting
SOHO's onboard digital camera.
SOLAR ECLIPSE: A "ring of
fire" solar eclipse is coming to the USA this
spring. It's the first annular eclipse visible from
the contiguous United States in almost 18 years.
Science@NASA has the full
story and a video.
(UPDATED): Departing sunspot
1402 unleashed an X2-class
solar flare on Jan. 27th at 18:37 UT. NASA's Solar
Dynamics Observatory recorded the extreme ultraviolet
Sunspot 1402 is rotating onto the
far side of the sun, so the blast site was not facing
Earth. Nevertheless, energetic protons accelerated
by the blast are now surrounding our planet, and
radiation storm is in
The explosion also produced a spectacular
coronal mass ejection (CME). A
movie from the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory
cloud racing away from the sun at 2500 km/s or 5.6
million mph. Update: Work by analysts
at the Goddard Space Weather Lab shows that the
CME will just miss Earth when its edge passes by
our planet on Jan. 30-31. Click to view an animated
The cloud will deliver a glancing
blow to Mars on Feb 1st and a nearly-direct hit
to NASA's STEREO-Ahead spacecraft on Jan. 29th.
flare alerts: text,
OVER THE USA: The geomagnetic storm
of Jan. 24th died out before night fell over North
America--or did it? According to reports still trickling
in, auroras were reported not only in Canada, but
also in some of the lower 48 US states. Shawn Malone
of Marquette, Michigan, took this picture looking
north from the shores of Lake Superior:
"I got to view a slice of the
aurora through a tiny opening in an otherwise completely
overcast sky," says Malone. "It appeared
to be a pretty decent display."
Prompted by the CME warning, Mike
Hollingshead of Nebraska drove 450 miles to the
Badlands National Park of South Dakota hoping to
catch a glimpse of the auroras. He got more than
he bargained for: "While I waited for some
sign of auroras, the most amazing
fireball I've ever seen blasts down. It flashed
brightly and illuminated the terrain around me."
Later, the auroras made a belated appearance, turning
More auroras could be in the offing.
A solar wind stream is heading for Earth, due to
arrive on Jan. 28-29. NOAA forecasters estimate
a 15% chance of geomagnetic storms at high latitudes.
more images: from
Stephan Hoglund of Grand Marais, Minnesota;
Kimberly S Mietzah Damkoehler of Houston, Alaska;
Robert Berdan of Calgary, Alberta; from
Bob Conzemius of Lake of the Woods, Minnesota;
Matt Melnyk of Edmonton, Alberta; from
Sylvain Serre of Ivujivik, Nunavik, Quebec,
2012 Aurora Gallery
[previous Januaries: 2010,
[previous comets: McNaught,