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STORM: A strong geomagnetic storm
(Kp=7) is in
progress following the impact of a CME around
1130 UT on Sept. 9th. This could be the first of
several hits from a series of CMEs expected to reach
Earth during the weekend. High-latitude sky watchers
should be alert for auroras
after nightfall. Aurora
ground currents caused by the storm have been detected
SUNSPOT: Sunspot 1283 is producing
flares so intense they are visible through solar
telescopes in backyards 93 million miles away. Amateur
astronomer Andy Devey photographed this one, and
eruption, from Barnsley UK on Sept. 8th:
The magnetic canopy of sunspot 1283
has an unstable "beta-gamma-delta" configuration
tthat harbors energy for more powerful eruptions.
NOAA forecasters estimate a 75% chance of M-flares
and a 25% chance of X-flares during the next 24
hours. Solar flare
more images: from
Bob Yoesle of Goldendale, Washington; from
Sergio Castillo of Inglewood, California; from
Monty Leventhal OAM of Sydney, Australia; from
James Kevin Ty of Manila, Philippines; from
Alcaria Rego of Almada, Portugal
CME: On Sept 8th around 2300 UT,
the SOHO and STEREO spacecraft detected a significant
CME emerging from the farside of the sun. Earth
is not in the line of fire, but the planet Mercury
is. Analysts at the Goddard
Space Weather Lab estimate that the cloud will
reach the innermost planet on Sept. 9th at 12:00
UT (plus minus 7 hours). Click to view a movie of
their CME model:
NASA's MESSENGER spacecraft is in orbit around
Mercury, so it will have a front row seat for the
impact. Researchers are keen to learn how Mercury's
magnetosphere responds to CMEs. In particular, they
wonder if CMEs can overpower Mercury's magnetic
field and sputter atoms right off the planet's surface.
Thanks to the Goddard forecast, MESSENGER's controllers
know the CME is coming, and they can prepare to
observe the impact.
Interplanetary space weather forecasting is a new
thing. It became possible in 2010-2011 when NASA
and ESA spacecraft surrounded the sun. Working together,
SOHO, the Solar Dynamics Observatory, STEREO-A and
STEREO-B now have the entire star under surveillance.
CMEs can be tracked no matter where they go, which
means space weather isn't just for Earth anymore.
2011 Aurora Gallery
[previous Septembers: 2010,
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
all the time.
September 9, 2011 there were 1244
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.
official U.S. government space weather bureau
first place to look for information about sundogs,
pillars, rainbows and related phenomena.
call it a "Hubble for the sun." SDO
is the most advanced solar observatory ever.
views of the sun from NASA's Solar and Terrestrial
and archival images of the Sun from SOHO.
the NOAA Space Environment Center
underlying science of space weather
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