Metallic photos of the sun by renowned photographer Greg Piepol bring together the best of art and science. Buy one or a whole set. They make a stellar gift.
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SOLAR ACTIVITY IN THE OFFING: A big sunspot is emerging over the sun's NE limb. Yesterday it unleashed an M1-class solar flare (SDO movie) and hurled a coronal mass ejection into space. Geoeffective solar activity could increase in the days ahead as the sun's rotation turns the sunspot toward Earth.
HALLOWEEN TRICKS: A solar wind stream brushed against Earth's magnetic field on Oct. 30-31, sparking auroras around the Arctic Circle. Noting that "not everything is as it seems on the eve of Halloween," photographer Christina Hammock captured "this tropical aurora scene at the top of the ice sheet in Greenland." (continued below)
Hammock works at Summit Station, an NSF-supported climate research facility. "We have a pink flamingo stuck outside the station," she explains. "I made the cardboard cut-out of a palm tree especially for this occasion. (Actually, I've been waiting for the right conditions for this photo. The auroras needed to be low enough in the sky to silhouette the tropical scene and the winds had to be low enough not to blow the tree around.)"
"Behind the palm trees and flamingos, the aurora were dancing all over the south eastern sky," Hammock continues. "We had swirls, pillars, and curves forming so distinctly that it looked like someone was painting them over the stars as we watched. Not even the -57F (-49C) temperatures could keep us from laying on our backs on the snow to watch the show in awe." Aurora alerts: text, voice.
more Halloween auroras: from Paul Beebe of Upsala, Ontario, Canada; from B.Art Braafhart of Salla, Finnish-Lapland; from Antti Pietikäinen of Muonio, Lapland, Finland; from Göran Fredriksson of Örnsköldsvik, Sweden; from Ulf Jonsson of Luleå, Norrbotten, Sweden
October 2011 Aurora Gallery
[previous Octobers: 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2004, 2003, 2002]
HALLOWEEN TREATS: What's bettter than candy on Halloween? Hint: It's pumpkin-colored and the skeleton is leaning against it:
Amateur astronomer Tom Wagner of Waterloo, Iowa, explains: "Years ago I ran out of candy on Halloween. Not wanting to disappoint the trick or treaters--or myself--I came up with an alternative. I set up my telescope (pictured above) and point it at the moon for them to see. One little goblin exclaimed as he saw the Moon, This is better than candy! His mother agreed. Tonight a little girl talked about how she never knew the Moon had 'holes' in it. This has become a Halloween tradition."
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 1, 2011 there were 1256 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 |
| ||for out-of-this-world printing and graphics |