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ORIONID METEOR SHOWER: Next weekend, Earth will pass through a stream of debris from Halley's Comet, source of the annual Orionid meteor shower. Forecasters expect 25 meteors per hour when the shower peaks on Oct. 21st. [video] [full story]
WEEKEND AURORAS: A solar wind stream buffeted Earth's magnetic field over the weekend, igniting a G1-class geomagnetic storm that lasted more than 15 hours. Auroras with rare pulsations, colors, and cloud-piercing luminosity were sighted all around the Arctic Circle. In Lofoten, Norway, the lights formed an exquisite green butterfly:
If this picture confuses you, turn it sideways to see it the same way photographer June Grønseth did. "I took more than 400 pictures last night," says Grønseth. "The butterfly and the heart were my favorites."
NOAA forecasters estimate a 40% chance of continued storms tonight as solar wind effects begin to wane. High-latitude sky watchers should remain alert for auroras. Aurora alerts: text, voice.
Realtime Aurora Photo Gallery
INCOMING ACTIVE REGION: An active sunspot located just over the sun's northeastern limb exploded during the early hours of Oct. 14th. NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory photographed a bright loop of hot plasma twisting over the blast site:
The eruption hurled a coronal mass ejection into space: SOHO movie. The cloud will not affect Earth because our planet was not in the line of fire. Future eruptions, however, might be geoeffective. The sun's rotation is about to bring the sunspot onto the Earthside of the sun where we could become targets for future flares. Stay tuned. Solar flare alerts: text, voice.
RADIO STORM ON JUPITER: On Oct. 12th, there was a storm on Jupiter--a radio storm. Amateur radio astronomer Thomas Ashcraft recorded the event using a shortwave radio telescope located in New Mexico. Click on the dynamic spectrum (a plot of intensity vs. frequency vs. time) to hear the whooshing, crackling, popping sounds that emerged from his telescope's loudspeaker:
Dynamic spectrum courtesy of Wes Greenman, Radio Alachua Observatory
"Listen to the recording in stereo," advises Ashcraft. "I recorded the audio from two separate radios at 21.1 MHz and 20.9 MHz, so there is a stereo spatial effect from the frequency drift of the emissions."
Jupiter's radio storms are caused by natural radio lasers in the planet's magnetosphere that sweep past Earth as Jupiter rotates. Electrical currents flowing between Jupiter's upper atmosphere and the volcanic moon Io can boost these emissions to power levels easily detected by ham radio antennas on Earth. Jovian "S-bursts" and "L-bursts" mimic the sounds of woodpeckers, whales, and waves crashing on the beach. Here are a few audio samples: S-bursts, S-bursts (slowed down 128:1), L-Bursts
Now is a good time to listen to Jupiter's radio storms. The distance between Earth and Jupiter is decreasing as the giant planet approaches opposition on Dec. 3rd; the closer we come to Jupiter, the louder it gets. NASA's Radio Jove Project explains how to build your own receiver.
Realtime Space Weather Photo Gallery
Realtime Noctilucent Cloud Photo Gallery
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