When is the best time to see auroras? Where is the best place to go? And how do you photograph them? These questions and more are answered in a new book, Northern Lights - a Guide, by Pal Brekke & Fredrik Broms.
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CHANCE OF FLARES: Will May begin with a solar flare? Two sunspots (AR1730 and AR1731) have 'delta-class' magnetic fields that harbor energy for strong eruptions. NOAA forecasters put the odds of an M-class solar flare today at 40%. Solar flare alerts: text, voice.
FARSIDE ERUPTION: Actually, May did begin with a solar flare--on the farside of the sun. An active region located behind the sun's eastern limb erupted during the early hours of May 1st, hurling a plume of red-hot debris into space:
Coronagraph images from NASA's twin STEREO probes confirm that a CME emerged from the blast site. Earth was not in the line of fire. Next week, however, we might be as the sun's rotation turns the active region toward our planet. Stay tuned for updates. Solar flare alerts: text, voice.
Note: iPhone and iPad users can track events on the farside of the sun using NASA's 3D Sun app. Download it now!
SPACE WEATHER BALLOON POPS: Last week, we reported on a group of high school students in Bishop, CA, who are launching "space weather balloons" to the edge of space to study the effect of solar flares on Earth's ozone layer. This is what it looks like when a space weather balloon pops:
A camera atop the balloon's payload recorded the explosion at 60 frames per second, allowing the student researchers to create a slow-motion movie of the balloon tearing itself to ribbons. This was their 22nd flight to the stratosphere since 2010, so they've seen this happen many times: another movie highlights some of the best explosions so far.
The popping of the balloon is an intentional part of the mission profile. It happens at an altitude of approximately 120,000 feet above Earth's surface, well inside the ozone layer that the students wish to study. The payload then parachutes back to Earth, where students find it (often in exotic places such as Death Valley) using GPS trackers.
The name of the group is "Earth to Sky Calculus." Check their Facebook page for more information about the space weather balloon program and other activities.
Realtime Space Weather Photo Gallery
Realtime Aurora Photo Gallery
Realtime Comet Photo Gallery
Realtime Noctilucent Cloud Photo Gallery
[previous years: 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011]
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 May 1, 2013 there were 1397 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 |