NEW AND IMPROVED:
Turn your iPhone or iPod Touch into a field-tested
global satellite tracker. The Satellite
Flybys app now works in all countries.
STORM: A geomagnetic storm (Kp=5) that lasted
for more than 9 hours on May 29th is subsiding now and the
chances for auroras are subsiding with it. The next storm
is due on May 31st or June 1st when a solar wind stream is
expected to hit Earth's magnetic field. Stay
PLANE X-37B: The US Air Force's X-37B space
plane is making a series of passes over North America this
weekend. It shines about as brightly as the stars of the Big
Dipper as it glides across the night sky. Last night, Dan
Bush caught it crosssing paths with another satellite over
"This is a 30 second exposure with my Nikon
D90," says Bush. "I could see the X-37B despite
the bright moonlight."
At least one observer has witnessed an "X-37B
As the space plane soared over Bradenton,
Florida, on May 25th "it
brightened to magnitude -0.8, about twice the brightness
of Arcturis," reports Scott Ferguson. Probably he caught
some sunlight glinting from the space plane's solar arrays.
Such a flare would have made the space plane instantly visible
even from light-polluted urban areas.
Readers, turn your cell phone into a space
plane tracker or check our Simple Satellite
Tracker for flyby times. And be alert for flares.
more X-37B images: from
Val Germann of Jefferson City, Missouri;from
Gary of Fort Davis, Texas; from
Jason Czech of Brimfield, Massachusetts
CONJUNCTION: Earlier today over Athens, Greece,
the International Space Station (ISS) had a conjunction with
Jupiter ... in broad daylight. Amateur astronomer Anthony
Ayiomamitis recorded the flyby:
The trick, says Ayiomamitis, was focusing. "Focusing
the telescope was very difficult against the mostly-blank
blue sky. And there were no big sunspots I could use to fine-tune
the focus by observing the sun. I got very lucky!"
His photo shows that with ISS construction now
mostly complete the space station subtends an angle bigger
than the biggest planet. "Jupiter has an apparent diameter
of 37.5 arcseconds, which is second to the passing ISS at
42.1 arcseconds," he notes.
Last week he also photograpphed the space station
the sun. "Broad daylight is an interesting time for
ISS photography," he says. Blue-sky transit forecasts
may be found at calsky.com.
2010 Aurora Gallery
[previous Mays: 2008,