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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SPACE JUNK NARROWLY MISSES SPACE STATION: On June 28th, an unidentified piece of space junk came within ~250 meters of the ISS, forcing the crew to take shelter in a pair of docked Russian Soyuz spacecraft. They emerged about a half hour later after the object passed harmlessly by. This is the second time since March 2009 that the crew has had to take such precautions; it could happen even more frequently in future as the population of orbital debris continues to grow. Get the full story from NASA.
REMOTE SOLAR ECLIPSE: If the Moon covers the sun and no one is around to see it, did the eclipse actually happen? Philosophical riddles may be all we get on July 1st (0840 UT) when the Moon covers 9.7% of the solar disk. Receiving an actual picture of the partial eclipse is unlikely because of its very remote location:
"This Southern Hemisphere event is visible from a D-shaped region in the Antarctic Ocean south of Africa," says eclipse expert Fred Espenak of the Goddard Space Flight Center. "Such a remote and isolated path means that it may very well turn out to be the solar eclipse that nobody sees."
Just in case someone does see it, Spaceweather.com is staging a photo contest. To the photographer who submits the best picture of the event, we will pay $50.00 in cash and award a 6-month subscription to Spaceweather PHONE . Remote observers should submit their images here.
Eclipse resources: (1) animated map, (2) contact times, (3) webcasts--not!
ELECTRIC BLUE SUNSETS: The 2011 season for noctilucent clouds is gaining steam. Reports of electric-blue sunsets are now coming in from all the countries of northern Europe, Russia, Alaska and Canada. "We had our first sighting of NLCs on June 28th," reports Alan Dyer. He took this picture from Gleichen in southern Alberta:
"It was quite bright at 11:45 pm MDT local time and faded shortly after midnight," he says. "A nice display!"
Back in the 19th century, these mysterious clouds were confined to high latitudes, mainly around the poles. In recent years, however, NLCs have spread south to places such as Utah, Colorado, and perhaps even Virginia. Is this a sign of climate change? Some researchers think so. Sky watchers at all latitudes are encouraged to be alert for electric blue just after sunset or before sunrise; observing tips may be found in the 2009 NLC gallery.
more images: from Ivo Dinsbergs of Riga, Latvia; from John Houghton of Newtown Linford, Leicestershire; from Aurimas Dirse of Vilnius, Lithuania; from Barbara Grudzinska of Warsaw, Poland; from Richard Fleet of Pewsey Vale, Wiltshire, England;
June 2011 Aurora Gallery
[Aurora alerts: text, voice] [previous Junes: 2010, 2008, 2001]
June 15th Lunar Eclipse Gallery