AURORA ALERTS: Did you miss the Northern Lights? Next time
get a wake-up call from Space
PLANE GOES MISSING: The US Air
Force's X-37B space plane has gone missing. Amateur
satellite watchers who routinely monitor the secret
failed to sight it at expected times on Oct. 7th
and 9th. It's possible that the X-37B has landed.
More likely, the space plane has maneuvered into
a new orbit and will be recovered again in the nights
ahead. Stay tuned for updates.
REGION 1112: Emerging sunspot 1112
is connected to a vast network of dark magnetic
filaments looping around the sun's southeastern
limb. NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory took this
picture of the region just hours ago:
Filaments such as these have a habit of erupting.
Will the fact that they are rooted in a sunspot
make them more--or less--stable? No one knows. The
magnetohydrodynamics of sunspots is so complex,
not even the most powerful supercomputers on Earth
can predict when they will erupt. Readers with solar
telescopes are encouraged to monitor this region
for unexpected developments.
more images: from
Ingmar Glass of Bavaria, Germany; from
Cai-Uso Wohler of Bispingen, Germany; from
Larry Alvarez of Flower Mound, Texas
PLANET: Venus is moving between
Earth and the sun and, in the process, turning its
night side toward us. From the terrestrial point
of view, only a sliver of Venus remains illuminated.
Dennis Put sends this picture of the crescent planet
from Brielle, The Netherlands:
"Even modest equipment will allow Venus to
be viewed as a crescent disk," says Put. "This
image was taken in infrared light using a a 9-inch
Celestroon telescope and a DMK21 camera."
The trick is finding Venus. Because the
planet is so close to the sun, it hangs very close
to the western horizon after sunset. Any low trees
or buildings will block the view. One possibility:
look before sunset. Venus is actually bright enough
to be seen in blue sky. Sky
& Telescope makes the following recommendation:
"The time to view Venus is in daylight long
before sunset — but don't accidentally sweep up
the sun! In mid-afternoon, place your scope in the
shadow of a building or other obstacle where you
have a clear view of the sky 28° to 21° to the sun's
left." Observing from inside a shadow means
the sun will be safely hidden while you scan the
suggested region of sky for Venus. Try it!
more images: from
Mariusz Rudziński of Mirostowice Dolne, Poland;
Stephen Williams of Chabot Space and Science
Center, Oakland, California;
2010 Northern Lights Gallery
[previous Septembers: 2009,
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
all the time.
October 10, 2010 there were 1149
potentially hazardous asteroids.
Notes: LD means "Lunar
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