They came from outer space--and you can have one! Genuine meteorites are now on sale in the Space Weather Store. They make a unique Valentine's gift.
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HIGH-LATITUDE AURORA ALERT: Earth is entering a stream of solar wind blowing ~500 km/s, and the encounter is stirring up geomagnetic activity around the Arctic Circle. High-latitude sky watchers should be alert for auroras.
Photographer Antony Spencer reports "an amazing display" over Enontekio, Finland, on March 22-23:
"I was leading a group of photographers who have come over from the U.K and we decided to drive inland from Tromsø to beat the clouds," says Spencer. "The display we witnessed was absolutely incredible. I have never seen this much color in the aurora before."
more images: from Sylvain Serre of Salluit, Nunavik, Quebec, Canada
March 2011 Aurora Photo Gallery
[previous Marches: 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002]
SQUARE SUPER MOON: Like so many other people around the world, James Helmericks of Alaska went outside on the evening of March 19th to watch the super perigee Moon rise in the east. "Imagine my surprise," he says, "when I saw that it was almost square." He took this picture from the Colville River Delta on Alaska's north slope:
Atmospheric optics expert Les Cowley explains what happened: "This is a very strong mirage produced by rays bent while crossing intense vertical temperature gradients between a layer of cold air beneath warmer air. The lunar disk details are vertically stretched, suggesting that the mirage is part of a fabled Fata Morgana. If we could see distant mountains they would likely be distorted into fantastical vertically elongated shapes resembling castles and tall spires. The high Arctic is famous for these mirages."
more super moonshots: from Peter Rosén of Central Stockholm, Sweden; from Göran Strand of Rörvattnet, Sweden; from Ron Wayman of Tampa Florida; from Guillaume Cannat of Palavas-les-Flots, France; from Rory Glasgow of Huntsville, Texas; from Phil Harrington of Fire Island, New York; from Megan O'Leary of East Sandwich, MA; from Zakaria Hamdi of Djedeida, Debila, Eloued, Algeria; from P-M Hedén of Vallentuna, Sweden; from Jacob Kuiper of Steenwijk, The Netherlands; from Bader Eddine Hamdi of Djedeida, Debila, Eloued, Algeria; from Kendall Gelner of Denver, Colorado; from Miguel Claro of Cabo Espichel, Sesimbra, Portugal.
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 March 23, 2011 there were 1215 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.
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