AURORA ALERTS: Did you miss the Northern Lights? Next time get a wake-up call from Space Weather PHONE
| || |
SPYSAT LAUNCH: Last night around 9:06 pm PDT, sky watchers across much of southern California witnessed a rocket streaking across the western sky. It was an Atlas V launched from Vandebergh AFB carrying a top-secret reconnaissance satellite, the NROL-41. Speculation on the nature of the mission ranges from conventional signals intelligence to the demonstration of new technologies for a whole new generation of spysats. Launch photos: #1, #2, #3.
FAILURE TO LAUNCH: Sept. 21st began with a eruption on the sun's northeastern limb that ... couldn't ... quite ... lift off. NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory recorded the action:
One-hour time lapse movies: mpeg, avi, iPad, iPhone, hi-res still frame
The one-hour blast produced neither a bright flash of electromagnetic radiation (a "solar flare") nor a substantial coronal mass ejection (CME). It just bounced up and down above the stellar surface. More potent events may be just around the corner. A magnetic active region crackling with B- and C-class solar flares is about to emerge over the northeastern limb. Indeed, this event probably came from its leading edge. Stay tuned for solar activity.
CLOSE ENCOUNTER WITH JUPITER: Last night, Earth and Jupiter converged for their closest encounter until 2022. The giant planet soared overhead at midnight, shining like a super-bright star second only to the Moon in luminosity. Jupiter was as much as 75 million km closer than other Earth-Jupiter encounters of decades past.
"I couldn't resist aiming my laser at Jupiter, knowing that it had to travel 75 million km less than usual to reach the planet," says Pete Glastonbury who sends this picture from Devizes, Wiltshire, UK:
Astronomers who aimed their telescopes instead got an eyeful of alien moons, swirling storms and cloud belts. "What a night," he says.
Did you miss the show? Don't worry, it's not over. Jupiter will remain at about the same distance from Earth for weeks to come. Be sure to look on the night of Sept. 22nd when Jupiter and the full Moon will be in conjunction, the two brightest objects in the night sky less than 10o apart. Reminder calls are available from SpaceWeather PHONE.
more images: from Niloofar Khavari of Dehkade, Karaj, Iran; from Sadegh Ghomizadeh of Iran, Tehran; from Rylee Isitt of Prince George, British Columbia, Canada; from Glenn Jolly of Gilbert, Arizona; from Aymen Ibrahem of Bibliotheca Alexandrina, Alexandria, Egypt; from Alan Friedman at the Mt. Wilson Observatory in California; from Pete Lawrence of Selsey, West Sussex, UK; from Jin Lu of Tempe, Arizona;
Sept. 2010 Northern Lights Gallery
[previous Septembers: 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004, 2002, 2001, 2000]
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 September 21, 2010 there were 1145 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 |
| ||from the National Solar Data Analysis Center |