Did you miss the lunar eclipse? No problem. The Coca-Cola Science Center recorded it for you. Click here to play the movie.
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QUIET SUN: Solar activity remains low. Not one of the sunspots scattered across the visible disk of the sun possesses the kind of complex magnetic field that poses a threat for strong eruptions. NOAA forecasters estimate a scant 5% chance of M-flares on May 29th. Solar flare alerts: text, voice
COMET 209P/LINEAR FLIES BY EARTH: Today, Comet 209P/LINEAR is passing remarkably close to Earth. At a distance of only 5 million miles (0.0554 AU), it is making the 9th closest comet flyby in recorded history. Such an encounter should be good news for sky watchers. Just one problem: the comet is not only remarkably close, but also remarkably dim. Observing from Australia, Nirmal Paul needed a half-meter telescope to take this picture of the comet approaching on May 28th:
Despite its proximity to Earth, the comet is shining like a 10th or 11th magnitude star--that is, about 100 times too dim to see with the unaided eye. The comet is not very active and it currently produces very little dust. This will come as no surprise to anyone who watched the May Camelopardalid meteor shower on May 24th. Caused by dust from Comet 209P/LINEAR, the shower was a visual dud.
Amateur astronomers who wish to watch this stealthy comet pass by Earth should consult the detailed finder charts provided by Sky and Telescope. And check the comet gallery for updates:
Realtime Comet Photo Gallery
CLOUDTOP PHENOMENON: For years, researchers have been studying red sprites and blue jets--strange forms of lightning that come out of the tops of clouds. On May 27th, a new form appeared. Pilot Cherdphong Visarathanonth was in the cockpit of an A320 at the airport in Bangkok, Thailand, when he saw a white tornado-like beam dancing atop this cumulonimbus cloud:
"We could see the same phenomenon through both windshields even after the aircraft has pushing back in a different direction," says Visarathanonth. "I made a 4 minute video in which we can see the phenomenon quickly moving and disappearing from time to time."
Brian Whittaker, another pilot with extensive sky watching experience, says, "I have seen Blue Jets and Sprites, but this is something totally different. Good luck figuring out what it is."
One reader suggests that it is a "jumping sundog." Lightning discharges in thunderclouds can temporarily change the electric field above the clouds where charged ice crystals were reflecting sunlight. The new electric field quickly re-orients the geometric crystals to a new orientation that reflects sunlight differently. Videos of the phenomenon show that it might be related to what Visarathanonth saw.
Other ideas are welcomed. If you have one, post it in the comments section of Visarathanonth's Space Weather Gallery page.
Realtime Space Weather Photo Gallery
Realtime Meteor Photo Gallery
Realtime Aurora Photo Gallery
Realtime Mars Photo Gallery
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 May. 29, 2014, the network reported 6 fireballs.
( 6 sporadics)
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 May 29, 2014 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.
| ||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 |