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 SAIL UPDATE: Evidence is mounting that NASA's NanoSail-D spacecraft has successfully unfurled its solar sail in Earth orbit. Radio beacon data picked up on Jan. 20th and 21st by amateur radio operators in Canada and the USA are consistent with an open sail. NASA mission controllers plan to confirm the deployment with additional data in the hours ahead. Radio operators can help by listening for NanoSail-D's beacon signal at 437.270 MHz, which contains information about the status of the spacecraft. Follow the links for orbital elements, beacon details and submissions.
SUNSPOT ACTIVITY: A rash of small spots is rapidly emerging near the main core of sunspot group 1147, and this could herald an increase in solar activity. Click on the image, below, to launch a 9 MB movie from Solar Dynamics Observatory:
The reason this rash is interesting has to do with its magnetic characteristics. It is an evolving jumble of magnetic polarities, with positive (+) pressing against negative (-) in many places. These are favorable condition for magnetic reconnection and solar flares. researchers with solar telescopes are encouraged to monitor the region for further developments.
more images: from Pavol Rapavy of Observatory Rimavska Sobota, Slovakia
BIG AND SPOOKY: The largest rocket ever launched from the west coast of the USA blasted off from California's Vandenberg Air Force Base on Jan. 20th at 1:10 pm PST. "The 23 story-high Delta IV Heavy rocket used three boosters, which produced more than two millions pounds of thrust to carry its payload into orbit," says photographer Anthony Galvan III, who recorded the launch on Figueroa Mountain some 40 miles from the Air Force base:
The massive rocket's "spooky" payload was a top-secret spy satellite belonging to the US National Reconaissance Office. Any doubts about the covert nature of the mission were dispelled 10 minutes after liftoff when the rocket's live feed went deliberately black. Only a twisting contrail in the blue Pacific sky reminded onlookers that, yes, it really happened.
more images: from John Boyd of Santa Barbara, CA; from Alfredo Garcia of Dockweiler Beach, CA
January 2011 Aurora Photo Gallery
[previous Januaries: 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2005, 2004]
Solar Eclipse Photo Gallery
[NASA: Hinode Observes Annular Solar Eclipse]
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 January 21, 2011 there were 1184 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 |