Hang the Transit of Venus on your wall! Hubble-quality images from NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory are now available as metallic posters in the Space Weather Store.
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SOLAR WIND: A medium-speed (~425 km/s) stream of solar wind is buffeting Earth's magnetic field. The solar wind is not blowing hard enough to ignite a full-fledged geomagnetic storm, but it is stirring up some beautiful auroras around the Arctic Circle. Check the realtime aurora gallery for latest images.
ANOTHER FAST-GROWING SUNSPOT: The sunspot number is increasing again. During the past 36 hours, active region AR1618 has more than quadrupled in size. It now has more than a dozen dark cores scattered across an expanse of stellar surface more than 10 times wider than Earth. This movie from NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory shows the sunspot's recent development:
The sunspot has also developed a 'beta-gamma' magnetic field that harbors energy for strong solar flares. NOAA forecasters estimate a 30% chance of M-class flares and a 5% chance of X-flares during the next 24 hours. Because of the sunspot's nearly central location on the solar disk, any eruptions will likely be Earth-directed. Solar flare alerts: text, voice.
Realtime Space Weather Photo Gallery
INSIDE THE SHADOW OF THE MOON: On Nov. 13/14, the Moon passed directly i front of the sun. This arrangement, which produced a total eclipse, cast the shadow of the Moon directly down on northeast Australia. Using a wide-field camera, eclipse-chaser Alan Dyer photographed the shadow as it raced across the sky over Lakeland Downs, Queensland. Scan the images, then read Dyer's account of the shadow-transit below:
"This collage of wide-angle shots shows the motion of the Moon's conical shadow," he explains. "At top, you can see the bottom edge of the shadow just touching the Sun. This was second contact and the diamond ring effect that begins totality. The middle frame was taken near mid-eclipse and shows the bright horizon beyond the Moons shadow. However, the Sun is not centered on the shadow because we were located well north of the eclipse's center-line, where we had gone to escape nearby clouds. The bottom frame was taken at the end of totality as the first bit of sunlight bursts out from behind the Moon. Notice the sun sitting at the well-defined left edge of the Moon's shadow. The shadow moved off to the right."
People who have experienced total eclipses first-hand say the Moon's shadow is one of the most amazing aspects of the experience. Its arrival causes many birds to stop singing; a hush descends on the landscape as the sky darkens and the air temperature suddenly drops. The Moon's shadow lances more than a quarter million miles across the silent vacuum of space, and when it lands on Earth, it seems to bring a bit of otherworldly cold with it.
For more otherworldly images of the eclipse, browse the gallery:
Realtime Eclipse Photo Gallery
Realtime Noctilucent Cloud Photo Gallery
[previous years: 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011]