Where's Saturn? Is that a UFO--or the ISS? What's the name of that
star? Get the answers from mySKY--a
fun new astronomy helper from Meade.
DISCOVERIES: NASA's fleet of THEMIS satellites
has made some surprising new discoveries about outbursts of Northern
Lights called "substorms" and the source of their power.
Findings include giant magnetic ropes that connect Earth to the
Sun and explosions in the outskirts of Earth's magnetic field: full
NOT A COMET: Last
night , sky watchers from England to Florida to Canada witnessed
a new exploding comet--or so it seemed. "It looked like Comet
Holmes!" says Alvaro Garay
of Casselberry, Florida. Chris
Schierer of Cazenovia, New York, saw the same thing and "wondered
how such a bright naked-eye comet could have been missed."
He snapped this picture using a Canon
A pair of objects streaking through the cloud suggested
"a satellite explosion or fuel dump." The latter is correct.
This cloud mimicking Comet
17P/Holmes is fuel dumped from the upper stage of an Atlas rocket
that launched a classified satellite into orbit for the National
Reconnaissance Office on Dec. 10th. The event created a splendid
display for about 50 minutes and then faded into the night.
EXTRA: See the fuel dump on
video captured by Kevin Fetter of Ontario, Canada.
World Map of Fuel Dump Sightings]
SUNSPOT MIRAGE: There's
a smudge on this image of yesterday's setting sun, but it's not
a defect in photographer Mila Zinkova's camera. "It's sunspot
978," she says.
The enormous spot, along with the rest of the star, was distorted
by temperature inversion layers in the air over San Francisco Bay,
producing a beautiful mock
mirage. "Yet a mirage without a green flash is like a story
without the end," notes Zinkova, "and this mirage produced
some very bright
A satisfactory end indeed!
more images: from
Pete Lawrence of Selsey, West Sussex, UK; from
the Hinode spacecraft in Earth orbit; from
J. Fairfull and J. Stetson of South Portland, Maine; from
John Nassr of Baguio, the Philippines; from
James Kevin Ty of Manila, the Philippines; from
Javier Temprano of Santander, Spain; from
Eric Soucy of Ohain, Belgium; from
Ehsan Rostamizadeh of Kerman, Iran;
17P/Holmes Photo Gallery
World Map of Comet Photos]