A "ring of fire" solar eclipse is coming to Australia on May 9th. Tune into the live webcast sponsored by the Coca-Cola Space Science Center.
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ETA AQUARID METEOR SHOWER: Earth is entering a stream of debris from Halley's Comet, source of the annual eta Aquarid meteor shower. Forecasters expect the shower to peak on May 5th and 6th with as many as 55 meteors per hour in the southern hemisphere and half that number in the north. The best time to look is during the dark hours before local sunrise. [photo gallery]
STRONG FLARE: An active region just over the sun's eastern limb exploded today, May 3rd @ 1730 UT, producing a strong M5-class solar flare. NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory caught a plume of hot plasma flying up from the blast site:
This is the second time in three days that this same farside active region has unleashed a strong flare. The sun's rotation is carrying the sunspot around the bend, and it should emerge into view from Earth during the weekend. After that, Earth-directed flares are possible. An uptick in geoeffective solar activity appears to be in the offing. Stay tuned for updates. Solar flare alerts: text, voice.
Realtime Space Weather Photo Gallery
MOOOO-VING UP--EDGE OF SPACE ADVERTISING: To fund space weather experiments in the stratosphere, science students in Bishop, California, have started a new business: Edge of Space Advertising. For a fee, they'll fly ad banners, shoes, US presidents--you name it!--to the edge of space. On April 22nd (Earth Day), they launched a cow:
This is EVA, the mascot of New Zealand Internet service provider EOL. Last month, she traveled from Tauranga, New Zealand, to an Edge-of-Space Port in the Sierra Nevada mountains of California. There, students attached EVA to the payload of a helium balloon and launched her to the stratosphere 120,000 feet above Earth's surface. Along the way she experienced temperatures as low as -65o C and air pressures only 1% of sea level--much like conditions on the planet Mars. At the end of the 3-hour flight, the balloon popped and EVA parachuted back to Earth, touching down in a remote corner of Death Valley. GPS signals led the students to the landing site, where they recovered EVA covered with desert dust but still smiling.
The name of the student group is "Earth to Sky Calculus." Mentored by Dr. Tony Phillips of spaceweather.com, they are actively exploring the stratosphere--measuring the effect of solar flares on the ozone layer, capturing high-altitude bacteria, and photographing meteor showers. The profits are going to a good cause.
EVA's flight to the stratosphere and the student's recovery expedition through Death Valley has generated a flurry of news coverage for EOL in New Zealand. In short, Edge of Space Advertising really works. Interested? Contact Dr. Tony Phillips for rates and details.
BIG SUNSPOTS: The Earthside of the sun is peppered with several large sunspots. One of them, AR1731, has an unstable delta-class magnetic field that harbors energy for strong Earth-directed flares. NOAA forecasters estimate a 30% chance of M-flares and a 5% chance of X-flares on May 3rd. Solar flare alerts: text, voice.
Flare-threat AR1731 is circled in this picture of the sun rising over the Philippines on May 3rd:
"At least 4 sunspot groups are visible in the image I took using an unfiltered Canon 7D DSLR digital camera," says Jett Aguilar of Quezon City. "The photo reminds me of an Escher print, with the sunspots transforming into birds!"
Realtime Space Weather Photo Gallery
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Realtime Noctilucent Cloud Photo Gallery
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