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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SOLAR ACTIVITY SURGES: A sunspot on the sun's eastern limb is crackling with powerful X-class solar flares. It announced itself with an X1.7-class eruption on May 13th at 0217 UT, quickly followed by an X2.8-class flare at 1609 UT. These are the strongest flares of 2013, and they signal a significant uptick in solar activity. More eruptions are in the offing. Solar flare alerts: text, voice.
Both of today's flares have produced strong flashes of extreme ultraviolet radiation. Here is the view of the X1.7-flare from NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory:
The explosions also hurled coronal mass ejections (CMEs) into space. Coronagraphs onboard the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory are tracking the clouds: movie. The planet in the CME movie is Mercury. Although the CMEs appear to hit Mercury, they do not. In fact, no planets were in the line of fire. However, the CMEs appear to be on course to hit NASA's Epoxi and Spitzer spacecraft on May 15-16.
When the flaring began, the sunspot was hidden behind the sun's eastern limb, but now solar rotation is bringing the active region into view. The Solar and Heliospheric Observatory captured this first look during the waning hours of May 13th:
The next 24 to 48 hours should reveal much about the sunspot, including its size, magnetic complexity, and potential for future flares. For the moment, there is no reason to expect the explosions to stop. Stay tuned for updates. Solar flare alerts: text, voice.
Realtime Space Weather Photo Gallery
FANTASTIC SUNRISE: The sunrise over Australia on Friday, May 10th, was a little ... unusual. Tony O'Brien photographed what happened from a spot south of the town of Newman:
It was an annular solar eclipse. At the moment of O'Brien's snapshot, more than 95% of the sun's diameter was covered by the Moon.
"I traveled a full day to see the eclipse, and it was worth the trip," he says. "What a fantastic event!"
In an annular eclipse the Moon is not quite big enough to cover the entire solar disk. A blinding ring of solar fire juts out around the Moon, overwhelming the sun's delicate corona. It may not be the same as totality, but annularity has a charm and beauty all its own. Browse the gallery for more images from the eclipse zone.
Realtime Solar Eclipse 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]