Come to Tromsø and share Marianne's passion for rural photography: Chasethelighttours.co.uk invites you to experience "Heaven on Earth" with an aurora, fjord, fishing, whale watching, photography or sightseeing tour.
JUPITER AND THE MOON IN CONJUNCTION: When the sun goes down tonight, step outside and look up. The Moon and Jupiter are side by side, only about 5o apart in the constellation Cancer. Try to catch them before the evening sky fades to black. The conjunction framed by twilight blue is a beautiful sight. [photo gallery]
QUIET WITH A CHANCE OF FLARES: Solar activity is low, but one sunspot could break the quiet: AR2305. The sunspot's dark core is larger than Earth and it has a 'beta-gamma' magnetic field that harbors energy for M-class solar flares. Philippe Tosi sends this high-res image of AR2305 from his backyard oobservatory in Nîmes, France:
The clarity of the image is impressive. Note the granulation of the stellar surface surrounding the sunspot's dark cores. Those are Texas-sized bubbles of plasma rising and falling like water boiling on top of a hot stove. These granules are present even when sunspots are not. (You are now ready to take the solar granulation quiz.)
If AR2305 does erupt, the flare will surely be geoeffective because the sunspot is almost directly facing Earth. NOAA forecasters estimate a 25% chance of M-class flares on March 29th. Solar flare alerts: text, voice
Space Weather Photo Gallery
INCOMING SOLAR WIND: NOAA forecasters estimate a 60% chance of polar geomagnetic storms on Sunday, March 29th, when a high-speed solar wind stream hits Earth's magnetic field. The source of the stream is a coronal hole on the sun:
Image credit: NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory
Coronal holes are places in the sun's atmosphere where the magnetic field opens up and allows solar wind to escape. In the extreme UV image, above, curved lines trace the sun's magnetic field; arrows indicate the flow of gaseous material (solar wind) out of the deep-purple coronal hole.
Gas velocities in the stream could be as high as 700 km/s (1.6 million mph). When such a high-speed stream hits Earth, it is likely to spark bright polar auroras. Stay tuned for weekend lights. Aurora alerts: text, voice
Space Weather Photo Gallery
STRESS-TESTING HALOBACTERIA: Astrobiologsts have long wondered if halobacteria, a terrestrial extremophile with a special talent for shielding itself from UV radiation, could survive on the planet Mars. To find the answer, the students of Earth to Sky Calculus have been flying halobacteria onboard balloons to the top of Earth's atmosphere. On March 24, 2015, this test tube full of microbes traveled to an altitude of 110,000 feet:
During the flight, onboard sensors registered temperatures as low as -60 C, air pressures of 1% sea level, and cosmic radiation levels 40 times Earth-normal. Those are conditions akin to the planet Mars. Two and a half hours after they were launched, the bacteria landed in the Death Valley National Park. This means they experienced a 100 C swing in temperature, a 100-fold change in air pressure, and a 40-fold surge of radiation. A recovery team collected the microbes from Death Valley's Nelson Range on March 25th.
The students have already shown that halobacteria can survive trips like this. But can they survive multiple trips? This same test-tube of microbes will fly again on April 1st, and a third time on April 7th--an unprecedented stress-test for this species. Stay tuned for results!
Hey thanks! The students of Earth to Sky Calculus wish to thank Fokke Fernhout for sponsoring the March 24th flight. His donation of $500 paid for the helium and other supplies necessary to get the balloon off the ground. In exchange, the students flew a Fernhout family photo to the edge of space:
Readers, if you would like to help send halobacteria back to the edge of space for additional stress-testing, sponsorship opportunities are available. Please contact Dr. Tony Phillips for details.
Eclipse Photo Gallery
Aurora Photo Gallery
Comet Photo Gallery
Every night, a network
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 Mar. 29, 2015, the network reported 6 fireballs.
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
all the time.
March 29, 2015 there were 1567
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.
official U.S. government space weather bureau
first place to look for information about sundogs,
pillars, rainbows and related phenomena.
call it a "Hubble for the sun." SDO
is the most advanced solar observatory ever.
views of the sun from NASA's Solar and Terrestrial
and archival images of the Sun from SOHO.
the NOAA Space Environment Center
underlying science of space weather