These pictures are almost too hot to touch. Metallic photos of the sun make great Christmas gifts.
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GLOBAL ERUPTION ROCKS THE SUN: A global eruption on the sun has shattered old ideas about solar activity. Researchers presented their surprising findings at a press conference Monday at the American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco. Get the full story from Science@NASA.
GEMINID METEOR UPDATE: Earth is exiting the Geminid debris stream, and meteor rates are plummeting. According to the International Meteor Organization, the shower peaked during the early hours of Dec. 14th with 100+ Geminids per hour visible from ideally dark-sky sites. Highlights of the shower may be found in the gallery.
On Monday night in Sweden, meteoroids mixed with auroras to produce a display of rare beauty:
"Another great night in the Abisko National Park!" says photographer Chad Blakley. "We were counting roughly 20 to 40 meteors per hour among the Northern Lights. Luckily I was able to catch a few with my new camera, a Nikon D7000."
According to measurements made by NASA cameras in Alabama and Georgia, the Geminids of 2010 disintegrated at altitudes ranging from 50 km to 100 km. For comparison, auroras descend to altitudes just below 100 km. So, yes, the auroras and meteoroids were mixed, albeit barely.
2010 Geminid Meteor Photo Gallery
[NASA: "Geminids Defy Explanation"] [meteor alerts]
MAGNETIC ERUPTION : On Dec. 14th around 1530 UT, a filament of magnetism lifted up from the surface of the sun and--snap!--erupted. NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory recorded the action:
Click to play a 3MB animation
The blast produced an hours-long C2-class solar flare and hurled a magnificent CME into space: SOHO movie. The expanding cloud is not heading directly toward Earth, but it might deliver a glancing blow to our planet's magnetic field two or three days hence. High latitude sky watchers should be alert for auroras.
November 2010 Aurora Gallery
[previous Novembers: 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000]
Potentially Hazardous Asteroids (PHAs
) are space rocks larger than approximately 100m that can come closer to Earth than 0.05 AU. None of the known PHAs is on a collision course with our planet, although astronomers are finding new ones
all the time.
On December 15, 2010 there were 1167 potentially hazardous asteroids. Notes: LD means "Lunar Distance." 1 LD = 384,401 km, the distance between Earth and the Moon. 1 LD also equals 0.00256 AU. MAG is the visual magnitude of the asteroid on the date of closest approach.
| ||The official U.S. government space weather bureau |
| ||The first place to look for information about sundogs, pillars, rainbows and related phenomena. |
| ||Researchers call it a "Hubble for the sun." SDO is the most advanced solar observatory ever. |
| ||3D views of the sun from NASA's Solar and Terrestrial Relations Observatory |
| ||Realtime and archival images of the Sun from SOHO. |
| ||from the NOAA Space Environment Center |
| ||the underlying science of space weather |