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JUNO OBSERVED BY AMATEUR ASTRONOMERS: NASA's Juno spacecraft left Earth Friday, Aug. 5th, on a five-year voyage to the planet Jupiter. Amateur astronomers have photographed the car-sized spacecraft leaving the Earth-Moon system. Images: #1, #2, #3.
MAJOR SOLAR FLARE: This morning at 0805 UT, sunspot 1263 produced an X7-class solar flare--only the third X-flare of new Solar Cycle 24 and the most powerful so far. NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory captured the explosion's extreme ultraviolet flash:
The brunt of the explosion was not Earth directed. Nevertheless, a minor proton storm is in progress around our planet, which could affect satellites in high-altitude orbits. Also, radiation from flare created waves of ionization in Earth's upper atmosphere, briefly disrupting communications at some VLF and HF radio frequencies.
SOHO coronagraphs show a CME emerging from the blast site. The cloud will probably miss Earth. At this time, however, we cannot rule out a glancing blow from the flank of the CME on or about August 11th. Stay tuned for updates. Solar flare alerts: text, voice.
more data: from Rob Stammes of Laukvik, Lofoten, Norway; from Andy Smith of Devon, United Kingdom; from Jan Karlovsky of Hlohovec, Slovakia
WEEKEND AURORAS: A widespread display of auroras erupted late Friday, Aug. 5th, when a double-CME hit Earth's magnetic field and sparked a G4-category geomagnetic storm. Click on the image to view a time lapse video of the event recorded by Michael Ericsson on the shores of Tibbitt Lake in the Northwest Territories of Canada:
"Although not the most intense auroras I've ever seen, this one is definitely up there on my favorites list," he says.
The show was not restricted to Canada. Northern Lights spilled across the border into the United States as far south as Oregon, Utah, Colorado, and Nebraska. (Note: The faint red lights photographed in Nebraska are typical of low-latitude auroras during major geomagnetic storms.) Observers in Europe as far south as England, Germany and Poland also witnessed a fine display. Browse the gallery for more examples.
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August 2011 Aurora Gallery
[previous Augusts: 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002]
2011 Noctilucent Cloud Gallery
[previous years: 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009]