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IMPACT: A CME hit Earth's magnetic
field on Feb. 26th at ~2100 UT. The impact was weak
and does not appear set to cause a strong geomagnetic
WEST AT SUNSET: Venus, Jupiter
and the crescent Moon are beaming through the evening
twilight, forming a bright triangle visible through
city lights and even thin clouds. Try to catch them
before the sky fades completely black. The trio
surrounded by twilight blue is an especially beautiful
sight. This is such a nice event, NASA has issued
release and video
about it. Sky maps: Feb.
Pavel Kantsurov sends this picture
taken just hours ago from Norilsk, Russia:
"Even the industrial landscape
looked beautiful with the planets shining above,"
more images: from
Charlie Bates Solar Astronomy Project of Atlanta,
Stan Richard of Urbandale, Iowa; from
Enrique Torres of Mérida, Venezuela; from
Tamas Abraham of Biatorbagy, Hungary; from
Brian Klimowski of Flagstaff, Arizona; from
Dirk Obudzinski of San Francisco, California;
Amirreza Kamkar of Qayen-Iran; from
Paul Andrew of Dover, Kent, UK; from
Clay Quarterman of Odessa, Ukraine; from
Francisco Diego of Tower Bridge, London; from
Jeff Berkes of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; from
Kiss Csongor of Derecske, Hungary; from
Thomas Achermann of Toras-Sieppi, Muonio, Finnish
Quentin Déhais of France; from
Pete Glastonbury of Devizes, Wiltshire, UK;
Stefano De Rosa of Turin (Italy); from
Stephan Brügger of Lübeck, Germany; from
Paulo Casquinha of Costa da Caparica, Almada,
Gregg Alliss of Marion, Iowa; from
Robert Snache of Rama First Nation, Ontario
TARGETS EARTH, MARS: A coronal
mass ejection (CME) launched from the sun on Feb.
24th appears set to hit both Earth and Mars. According
to analysts at the Goddard Space Weather Lab, the
cloud should reach Earth today, Feb. 26th around
1330 UT (+/- 7 hr), followed by Mars two days later.
Click to view the CME's animated forecast track:
The cloud's impact could spark a G2-class
geomagnetic storm, so high latitude sky watchers
should be alert for auroras. Aurora
If the forecast is correct, the CME
could also hit NASA's Mars rover Curiosity on Feb.
27th. The rover, en route to the red planet onboard
the Mars Science Lab spacecraft, is equipped with
a radiation sensor that could detect energetic particles
accelerated by the CME's passage. Indeed, this has
The CME was hurled into space by a
filament of magnetism, which rose up from the sun's
northestern limb and erupted on Feb. 24th: SDO
movie. Although much of the cloud headed north,
out of the plane of the planets, the cloud's lower
edge will dip down low enough to intersect Earth,
Curiosity, and Mars.
2012 Aurora Gallery
[previous Februaries: 2011,
IN BROAD DAYLIGHT: As the brightest
planet in the heavens, Venus can be seen in broad
daylight. The trick is knowing where to look. On
Feb. 24th, the crescent Moon provided some guidance.
"The Moon told us where Venus was in the sky,
allowing us to see her in daylight with the naked
eye," says Nerissa-Cesarina Urbani, who sends
this picture from Serra San Quirico, Italy:
Even among veteran observers, it is
always a bit of a surprise to see Venus pop out
of the blue sky when you look straight at the planet.
Many observers had this experience on Feb. 25th
as the helpful Moon glided only 3o away
from the goddess of love.
more images: from
Thomas Faller of Newnan, GA; from
Alan C Tough of Elgin, Moray, Scotland; from
Sam Barricklow of Garland, Texas; from
Pete Strasser of Tucson, AZ; from
Doug Zubenel of Kansas City, Missouri