AURORA WATCH: NOAA forecasters estimate a 50% chance of geomagnetic storms on Nov. 15th when one or more CMEs are expected to hit Earth's magnetic field. High-latitude sky watchers should be alert for auroras.
REVIVAL ON JUPITER: Think of the turmoil at the sea surface just before a massive submarine emerges from depth. Something like that is happening on Jupiter. A turbulent plume is breaking through the giant planet's cloudtops in the south equatorial zone, heralding the emergence of ... what? Scroll past this Nov. 14th photo from astrophotographer Paul Haese of Glenalta, South Australia for further discussion:
The plume, circled in Haese's photo and known to astronomers as the "SEB Revival Spot," is a sign that Jupiter's South Equatorial Belt (SEB) is about to return. The great brown belt disappeared earlier this year, leaving Jupiter without one of its signature stripes. No one knows where the SEB went, although some researchers have speculated that it sank beneath high altitude clouds and might now be bobbing back to the top.
Christopher Go of the Philippines first noticed the Revival Spot on Nov. 9th. At first it was small and white and required careful astrophotography to detect. Only five days later, it is expanding rapidly and darkening; soon, it could become visible to novices in the eyepieces of backyard telescopes. Stay tuned for updates.
more images: from Brian Combs of Buena Vista, GA; from John Nassr of Baguio, Philippines; from David Kolb of Lawrence, KS
SUNDIVING COMET: The solar system has one less comet after one of the dirty snowballs swung past the sun on Nov. 14th--a little too close--and did not survive. Click on the image to view a movie of the death plunge:
Japanese comet hunter Masanori Uchina first noticed the sundiver in coronagraph images from the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) on Nov. 13th. At the time it was a dim and distant speck, but it rapidly brightened on Nov. 14th as it approached the hot sun. Now it is just a dissipating haze of vapor and comet dust.
The comet was likely a member of the Kreutz sungrazer family. Named after a 19th century German astronomer who studied them in detail, Kreutz sungrazers are fragments from the breakup of a giant comet at least 2000 years ago. Several of these fragments are thought to pass by the sun and disintegrate every day. Most are too small to see but occasionally a bigger fragment like this one attracts attention.
October 2010 Aurora Gallery
[previous Octobers: 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001]
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 November 15, 2010 there were 1164potentially 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 |