Marianne's Heaven On Earth Aurora Chaser Tours Chasethelighttours.co.uk invites you to join them in their quest to find and photograph the Aurora Borealis. Experience the winter wonderland in the Tromsø Area.
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SUNSET SKY SHOW: When the sun goes down tonight, step outside and look west. Mercury and the slender crescent Moon are shining side-by-side in the rosy glow of sunset. If you can't see them with the unaided eye, try binoculars. It's a great way to end the day. [sky map]
GEOMAGNETIC STORM: On April 7th, Earth crossed a fold in the heliospheric current sheet, plunging our planet into a region of space filled with "negative-polarity" magnetic fields. This sparked a G1-class geomagnetic storm and bright auroras around the Arctic Circle. "Suddenly, the sky exploded in color," reports Janne Maj Nagelsen, who took this picture from Stamnes, Vaksdal, Norway:
"I've waited for so many years to take this picture, because the Northern Lights has never been high enough in the sky before," says Nagelsen. "It was amazing."
Many people have never heard of the heliospheric current sheet. It is one of the biggest things in the solar system--a vast undulating system of electrical currents shaped like the skirt of a ballerina: picture. Earth dips in and out of it all the time.
NOAA forecasters estimate a 55% chance of continued storming on April 8th as Earth slowly exits this region of space. High-latitude sky watchers should remain alert for auroras. Aurora alerts: text or voice
Realtime Aurora Photo Gallery
PLANET-SIZED SUNSPOT: As expected, a large sunspot has emerged over the sun's northwestern limb. AR2529 has a dark core as wide as Earth itself, as shown in this April 8th photo taken by Philippe Tosi of Nîmes, France:
Sunspots are, essentially, islands of magnetism floating in a sea of solar plasma. This island is as wide as a planet. Magnetic fields arching above a sunspot can become tangled. They criss-cross and reconnect, exploding with the force of millions of atomic bombs. However, such a "solar flare" is unlikely in this case because the magnetic field of sunspot AR2529 is not tangled; it is stable and poses little threat for strong explosions. Solar activity is expected to remain low this weekend.
Realtime Space Weather Photo Gallery
ANTARCTIC LIGHTS: When the sun goes down over Halley Research Station in Antarctica, the darkening sky usually turns an icy shade of sunset red. On April 2nd, the primary color was, instead, green:
"The auroras were incredibly fast moving and at times covered with entire sky," says photographer Greig Lawson, the station's doctor, who ventured out onto the ice during a G2-class geomagnetic storm. "They were clearly visible even while the sun was still setting."
Operated by the British Antarctic Survey, the Halley Research Station is known for its studies of ozone, cosmic rays, and climate change. It is located on the Brunt Ice Shelf, a 130 meter thick slab of frozen water that floats atop the Weddell Sea. Such a platform is a dangerous place to be. Pieces of the shelf frequently break off, or "calve," giving birth to new icebergs. The current base structure, Halley VI, can avoid unstable ice by relocating itself. The station's colorful modules are built upon huge hydraulic skis.
Lawson will be busy in the months ahead tending to the station's wintertime staff of 16. Hopefully, he'll have time send more pictures. As the Arctic brightens, making Northern Lights difficult to see, the Antarctic will darken, providing a velvety canvas for geomagnetic storms to paint their colors on southern skies.
Realtime Space Weather Photo Gallery
Solar Eclipse Photo Gallery
Realtime Comet Photo Gallery
[More about Comet 252P: brightness measurements, 3D orbit, orbital elements]
Every night, a network of NASA all-sky cameras
scans the skies above the United States for meteoritic fireballs. Automated software maintained by NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office calculates their orbits, velocity, penetration depth in Earth's atmosphere and many other characteristics. Daily results are presented here on Spaceweather.com.
On Apr. 8, 2016, the network reported 2 fireballs.
In this diagram of the inner solar system, all of the fireball orbits intersect at a single point--Earth. The orbits are color-coded by velocity, from slow (red) to fast (blue). [Larger image] [movies]
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 April 8, 2016 there were 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.
| ||Cosmic Rays in the Atmosphere |
These measurements are based on regular space weather balloon flights: learn more.
|Situation Report -- Oct. 30, 2015 ||Stratospheric Radiation (+37o N) |
|Cosmic ray levels are elevated (+6.1% above the Space Age median). The trend is flat. Cosmic ray levels have increased +0% in the past month. |
|Sept. 06: 4.14 uSv/hr (414 uRad/hr) |
|Sept. 12: 4.09 uSv/hr (409 uRad/hr) |
|Sept. 23: 4.12 uSv/hr (412 uRad/hr) |
|Sept. 25: 4.16 uSv/hr (416 uRad/hr) |
|Sept. 27: 4.13 uSv/hr (413 uRad/hr) |
|Oct. 11: 4.02 uSv/hr (402 uRad/hr) |
|Oct. 22: 4.11 uSv/hr (411 uRad/hr) |
Approximately once a week, Spaceweather.com and the students of Earth to Sky Calculus fly "space weather balloons" to the stratosphere over California. These balloons are equipped with radiation sensors that detect cosmic rays, a surprisingly "down to Earth" form of space weather. Cosmic rays can seed clouds, trigger lightning, and penetrate commercial airplanes. Our measurements show that someone flying back and forth across the continental USA, just once, can absorb as much ionizing radiation as 2 to 5 dental X-rays. For example, here is the data from a flight on Oct. 22, 2015:
Radiation levels peak at the entrance to the stratosphere in a broad region called the "Pfotzer Maximum." This peak is named after physicist George Pfotzer who discovered it using balloons and Geiger tubes in the 1930s. Radiation levels there are more than 80x sea level.
Note that the bottom of the Pfotzer Maximim is near 55,000 ft. This means that some high-flying aircraft are not far from the zone of maximum radiation. Indeed, according to the Oct 22th measurements, a plane flying at 45,000 feet is exposed to 2.79 uSv/hr. At that rate, a passenger would absorb about one dental X-ray's worth of radiation in about 5 hours.
The radiation sensors onboard our helium balloons detect X-rays and gamma-rays in the energy range 10 keV to 20 MeV. These energies span the range of medical X-ray machines and airport security scanners.
| ||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 |