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HARVEST MOON: There's a full Moon tonight and it has a special name--the "Harvest Moon." It's the full Moon closest to the northern autumnal equinox. Before electric lights, farmers working late at night relied on the light of the Harvest Moon to gather their ripening autumn crops.
GEOMAGNETIC ACTIVITY: High-latitude sky watchers should be alert for auroras mixing with the light of tonight's Harvest Moon. A fast-blowing stream of solar wind is buffeting Earth's magnetic field and causing geoagnetic activity around the poles. Aurora alerts: text, voice.
A CME struck Earth's magnetic field on Sept. 9th, sparking more than 18 hours of bright auroras. In the United States, Northern Lights were spotted as far south as Washington, Wisconsin, Vermont, Montana, Maine, Minnesota and North Dakota. In Michigan, it was like a day at the beach:
Shawn Malone took the picture from the shores of Lake Superior near the city of Marquete. "Auroras appeared right after dusk, barely visible because of the moon," he says. "Gradually the fog moved in, creating a surreal landscape--the aurora and a fogbow!"
UPDATED: September 2011 Aurora Gallery
[previous Septembers: 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004]
TODAY's BONUS SHOTS: Launch of GRAIL from Ben Cooper of Cape Canaveral, Florida; Wave Clouds from Steve Jamruszka of Glacier National Park, Montana; Sundogs from Piet Berger of Simpelveld, the Netherlands;
SUNSPOT CONJUNCTION: A new sunspot (AR1289) is growing rapidly in the sun's eastern hemisphere. The International Space Station drew attention to it this morning when the solar-paneled spacecraft flew almost directly in front of the sunspot's dark core:
Maximilian Teodorescu took the picture from Magurele, Romania. "The space station made a very nice couplet with sunspot AR1289," he says. "This was the second ISS transit of the sun in three days for my location."
Readers, would like to try photographing your own ISS-sunspot conjunctions? Transit predictions are available from Calsky.com. And, of course, you'll need a solar telescope.
more images: from Stephen W Ramsden of Atlanta, GA; from Theo Ramakers of Ruthlege, GA;