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GEOMAGNETIC STORM: A CME hit Earth's magnetic field on Oct. 5th at approximately 0700 UT, sparking minor geomagnetic storms around both poles. Shortly after the CME's impact, Minoru Yoneto photographed an outburst of auroras over Queenstown, New Zealand:
"It was very good timing to shoot these Southern Lights just as the bright Moon was setting," says Yoneto. "[To the naked eye, the lights were faint], but a 30-second exposure with my digital camera set to ISO1600 revealed their beauty."
High-latitude sky watchers should remain alert for auroras as Earth's magnetic field continues to reverberate. Plus, according to NOAA forecasters, one or two more CMEs may be on the way to keep the storm going. Storm alerts: text, voice.
FARSIDE CME: Yesterday, October 4th, something exploded on the far side of the sun and propelled a spectacular CME into space. The Solar and Heliospheric Observatory recorded the cloud as it emerged from behind the sun's limb:
Analysts at the Goddard Space Weather Lab have combined observations from SOHO and the twin STEREO spacecraft to calculate the CME's trajectory: It is heading for Mercury. The CME will hit the innermost planet on Oct. 5th around 04:30 UT plus minus 7 hours. Energetic particles accelerated by shock waves at the leading edge of the cloud could also have minor effects on the MESSENGER probe in orbit around Mercury. The CME's forecast track shows that Venus might also receive a blow on Oct. 6th.
TIANGONG-1 SIGHTINGS: China's first space station, an 8.5-ton experimental module named Tiangong-1 (Heavenly Palace-1), is flying over the United States this week. Last night, Tavi Greiner saw it gliding over Shallotte, North Carolina:
"The Tiangong 1 passed between Cygnus and Cassiopeia shortly after sunset," says Greiner. "It was surprisingly bright, easily seen with the unaided eye."
Readers, check Spaceweather's Satellite Tracker for sighting opportunities in your hometown. You can also turn your smartphone into a Tiangong-1 tracker by downloading the Simple Flybys app.
more images: from Jim Saueressig II of Burlington, Kansas; from Justin Cowart of Carbondale, Illinois; from Stuart McDaniel of Lawndale, North Carolina; from Giuseppe of Fisciano, Italy
September 2011 Aurora Gallery
[previous Septembers: 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004]