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.
| || |
SLIGHT CHANCE OF FLARES: NOAA forecasters estimate a slight 20% chance of M-class solar flares from departing sunspot AR1564. Otherwise, solar activity is expected to remain low for the next 24 hours. Solar flare alerts: text, voice.
JUPITER SWALLOWS AN ASTEROID: Around the world, amateur astronomers have been scanning the cloudtops of Jupiter for signs of debris from an explosion witnessed by Dan Peterson and George Hall on Sept. 10th. So far the cloud layer is blank. "Several observers have now obtained excellent images on the second and third rotations after the fireball, and there is nothing new nor distinctive at the impact site," reports John H. Rogers, director of the Jupiter Section of the British Astronomical Association:
The fireball was probably caused by a small asteroid or comet hitting Jupiter. Apparently, the giant planet swallowed the impactor whole.
When fragments of Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 hit Jupiter in 1994, each major flash observed by NASA's Galileo spacecraft produced a "bruise," a murky mixture of incinerated comet dust and chemically altered Jovian gas twisting and swirling among the clouds. In July 2009, amateur astromer Anthony Wesley discovered a similar mark thought to be debris from a rogue asteroid crashing into the planet.
So where is the debris this time? Perhaps the impactor was small, packing just enough punch to make a flash, but without leaving much debris. Indeed, studies suggest that Jupiter is frequently struck by relatively small 10-meter-class asteroids. In such cases, minimal debris is to be expected.
Stay tuned for updates in case something surfaces.
Realtime Space Weather Photo Gallery
DEEP-SKY AURORAS OVER ICELAND: Last night, photographer Iurie Belegurschi opened the shutter of his camera to record the Milky Way over a glacial lagoon in Iceland. He got something extra--the Northern Lights:
Not only the heavens but also the lagoon itself was glowing green, a reflection of mild geomagnetic activity in the sky overhead. "It was an amazing night!" says Belegurschi.
Stronger activity is in the offing. NOAA forecasters estimate a 15% chance of severe geomagnetic storms around the poles on Sept. 14th when a solar wind stream is expected to reach Earth. Aurora alerts: text, voice.
Realtime Aurora Photo Gallery
Realtime Noctilucent Cloud Photo Gallery
[previous years: 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011]