| AURORA ALERTS: Did you miss the Northern Lights of June 25th? Next time get a wake-up call from Space Weather PHONE. || || |
WHAT'S WRONG WITH THE SUN? The sun is entering its third year of eerie calm. Sunspots are rare and solar flares simply aren't happening. Is this "solar minimum" lasting longer than it should? A NASA scientist has examined centuries of sunspot data to find the answer, revealed in today's story from Science@NASA.
LITTLE RED SPOT DESTROYED: Last month, Jupiter had three red spots. Today there are only two. "The 'Little Red Spot' is gone," reports Christopher Go who took this picture on July 10th from his backyard observatory in the Philippines:
His photo shows two and only two storms: the Great Red Spot (center) and Oval BA just above it. Missing is the Little Red Spot (LRS), a young upstart of a storm that had the temerity to crash into its older siblings on July 1st-3rd. Bad weather at key observing sites hid the crash from many astronomers, leaving the fate of the LRS uncertain until now. "The LRS has dissipated," says Go. "Its remnant can be seen just east of the Great Red Spot."
Go uses an 11-inch Celestron telescope to monitor events on Jupiter. Much is visible these days because Jupiter is at its closest to Earth for all of 2008. If you have a backyard telescope, point it southeast after sunset. Jupiter is there blazing brighter than any star: sky map.
MARS ON THE MOVE: Put on your 3D glasses and behold ... a "moving rock" on Mars:
Click to view the complete scene
Graphic artist Patrick Vantunye of Belgium created the 3D anaglyph by combining right- and left-eye images from Phoenix's stereo camera. It shows a rock near the Mars lander's feet seemingly pushed some distance through the dusty soil. "It reminds me of the moving rocks of Racetrack Playa in Death Valley," says Vantuyne. Long held to be a mystery, those Death Valley rocks are now thought to travel by means of wind propulsion, skidding along a desert floor momentarily slick after rainstorms. What moved this Mars rock? Possibilities include Phoenix's landing thrusters, martian wind, a nudge from Phoenix's robotic arm, and of course the unknown. Solutions are welcomed.
EXTRA: A second moving rock has come to our attention. Click here to view the rock and its location with respect to the Phoenix lander.
2008 Aurora Gallery
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