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 WIND: Earth is passing through a stream of solar wind blowing ~500 km/s. The action of the wind has not yet caused a geomagnetic storm, but it has been enough to spark bright lights around the Arctic Circle. High-latitude sky watchers should be alert for auroras tonight. Aurora alerts: text, voice.
HARVEST MOON: The northernn autumnal equinox is only two days away. That makes this week's full Moon the Harvest Moon, the full Moon closest to the beginning of Fall. Louis Suarato sends this picture of the Harvest Moon rising on Sept. 18th over a farm in Buskirk, New York:
"A farmer was very generous in allowing me to capture this view from a hill overlooking his farm," says
The setting is a nod to the origins of the name "Harvest Moon." Before the days of electric lights, farmers relied on moonlight to harvest crops which ripened all at once in autumn. They couldn't afford to stop working at sunset, so "harvest moonlight" was essential to their operations. The flow of electricity has made the Moon obsolete as a source of practical illumination, but not as an object of beauty. Step outside tonight at sunset, look east and enjoy the view.
Realtime Space Weather Photo Gallery
COMET ISON: Comet ISON is still more than two months away from its spectacular close encounter with the sun. Amateur astronomers aren't waiting. The brightening comet has become a good target for backyard telescopes in the pre-dawn sky and pictures of the comet are pouring in. Last night, Chris Schur captured this image from his home observatory in Payson, Arizona:
"This 25 minute exposure shows the comet through a 12 inch telescope," says Schur. "The image has sharp focus, perfect tracking and the star trails are unbroken and smooth. A nearby star added to the nice composition."
At the moment, ISON is too dim for the naked eye--"I estimate the comet's magnitude to be +12.5," says Schur--but it is on track to become an impressive sungrazer. For comparison, Comet ISON is brighter than Comet Lovejoy was in 2011 at a similar distance from the sun. The fact that Comet Lovejoy turned into a spectacular sungrazer bodes well for the performance of Comet ISON.
Observers of Comet ISON will notice that it is in the same part of the sky as Mars. The comet will make a close approach to the Red Planet on October 1st, and during that time Mars satellites will be taking ISON's picture at point blank range. Those images will likely rival or improve upon the view from Earth. Stay tuned to the Comet ISON Photo Gallery for updates from both planets.
Realtime Comet ISON Photo Gallery
Realtime Aurora Photo Gallery
Realtime Noctilucent Cloud Photo Gallery
[previous years: 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011]
Realtime Comet Photo Gallery