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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QUIET SUN: With the sunspot number dropping to almost zero, solar activity is very low. No strong flares are expected today. NOAA: 1% chance of X-flares. SWx alerts: text, voice.
JUST ONE FIREBALL: An outburst of gamma Delphinid meteors expected by some forecasters on June 11th failed to materialize. If anything, the meteor rate was slightly lower than normal as Earth passed through a region of space where the cometary debris stream was supposed to be. No outburst, however, doesn't mean no meteors. Thomas Ashcraft recorded a gamma Delphinid fireball streaking over his private observatory in rural New Mexico:
"This fireball appeared ten minutes from the predicted outburst peak time," says Ashcraft. "One fireball does not prove an outburst but this meteor may be significant in any case."
Turn the volume up and play the movie again. The sounds you hear are distant radio transmitters reflecting from the fireball's ion trail. Ashcraft operates a 61 MHz forward-scatter meteor radar, which detects such reflections. "There is a faint scatter reflection at the terminal burst moment, but the full radio reflection was delayed in this case and lasted over a minute," he says.
Realtime Space Weather Photo Gallery
AURORAS + NOCTILUCENT CLOUDS: On Sunday, June 9th, Alan Dyer of Gleichen, Alberta, Canada, went outside to see the colors of the sunset. He got more than he bargained for. Stacked atop the rosy glow of twilight were dual bands of electric-blue noctilucent clouds and green auroras:
"At times the auroral curtains appeared superimposed on the noctilucent clouds," says Dyer. "It isn't often we see the two phenomena together."
That's because they are completely unrelated. Auroras are caused by energetic particles from the sun raining down on Earth's upper atmosphere, causing the air to glow like the picture tube of a color TV. Noctilucent clouds are made of tiny ice crystals wrapped around bits of meteor smoke. Their electric-blue color comes from the scattering of high altitude sunlight. On June 9th the two phenomena overlapped for a rare display.
"Adding to the colours was the deep orange of perpetual twilight rimming the northern horizon," continues Dyer. "It was a beautiful pre-solstice night."
More aurora-noctilucent overlaps might be in the offing. NLC experts say noctilucent clouds have appeared bright and early this year, while 2013 might bring the late surge of a double-peaked Solar Max. High-latitude sky watchers should keep an eye on the sunset. Aurora alerts: text, voice.
Realtime Noctilucent Cloud Photo Gallery
[previous years: 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011]
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