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ASTEROID FLYBY: Newly-discovered asteroid 2012 LZ1 is flying past the Earth-Moon system today. At closest approach on June 14th (23:10 UT), the 500 meter-wide space rock will be 14 lunar distances (3.3 million miles) away. A team of astronomers led by Ernesto Guido photographed the incoming asteroid on June 13th: images.
INCOMING CMES: On June 14th, for the second day in a row, sunspot AR1504 erupted and hurled a CME toward Earth. The fast-moving (1360 km/s) cloud is expected to sweep up a previous CME and deliver a combined blow to Earth's magnetic field on June 16th around 10:16 UT. This animation shows the likely progression of the approaching storm:
According to the forecast track prepared by analysts at the Goddard Space Weather Lab, the CMEs will also hit Venus on June 15th and Mars on June 19th. Because Venus and Mars do not have global magnetic fields to protect them, both of those planets will probably lose tiny amounts of atmosphere when the CMEs strike.
Here on Earth, the impact is likely to trigger a geomagnetic storm around the poles. High-latitude sky watchers should be alert for auroras on June 16th. Magnetic storm alerts: text, voice.
Movie extras: NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory captured the UV glow from today's M2-class solar flare. The STEREO-Ahead spacecraft photographed the massive CME.
ELECTRIC-BLUE NOCTILUCENT CLOUDS: Data from NASA's AIM spacecraft show that noctilucent clouds (NLCs) are like a great "geophysical light bulb." They turn on every year in late spring, reaching almost full intensity over a period of no more than 5 to 10 days. News flash: The bulb is glowing. Flying photographer Brian Whittaker photographed these NLCs over Canada on June 13th:
"I was very happy to see my first noctilucent clouds of 2012," says Whittaker. "They were visible to the north for about 3 hours as we flew between Ottawa and Newfoundland at 35,000 feet."
These electric-blue clouds are hanging 85 km above Earth's surface, at the edge of space itself. Their origin is still largely a mystery; various theories associate them with space dust, rocket exhaust, global warming--or some mixture of the three. One thing is sure. They're baaack ... for the summer of 2012.
Observing tips: NLCs favor high latitudes, although they have been sighted as far south as Colorado and Virginia. Look west 30 to 60 minutes after sunset when the Sun has dipped 6o to 16o below the horizon. If you see luminous blue-white tendrils spreading across the sky, you may have spotted a noctilucent cloud.
Realtime Space Weather Photo Gallery
[Submit your photos] [NASA videos: 2012 Transit of Venus, ISS Transit of Venus]
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 June 14, 2012 there were 1311 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.
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| ||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 |
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