Metallic photos of the sun by renowned photographer Greg Piepol bring together the best of art and science. Buy one or a whole set. They make a stellar gift.
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SOLAR RADIO STORM: Sunspot 1176 is 'radio-active.' Amateur radio astronomer Thomas Ashcraft sends this report from his observatory in rural New Mexico: "Over the past few days, I have been recording a sustained solar radio storm at 180 MHz. It is a broadband continuum storm of Type I radio bursts, and it sounds like ocean surf. Here is an audio sample from March 27th at 1930 UT. The sun seems to be entering a new phase of dynamism."
SUNSPOT PROFUSION: Sunspots are popping up in many locations across the sun's surface, causing the sunspot number to surge above 100. Leading the way is behemoth active region 1176, shown here in a photo taken yesterday by Larry Alvarez of Flower Mound Texas.
AR1176, the multi-cored ensemble at the bottom of the image, is dragging a pair of long magnetic filaments behind as it cuts aross the solar disk. Two more sunspots are visible in the active region's wake. The entire starscape spans more than 500,000 km from top to bottom--truly impressive.
"I call this picture Solar Rip," says Alvarez, "because it looks like a rip across the stellar surface." With so much happening on the sun, now is a good time to consider purchasing a solar telescope. Browse the links below for inspiration.
more sunshots: from Mike Taormina of Upstate New York, USA; from Rogerio Marcon of Campinas SP Brasil; from Steven Riegel of Albuquerque, NM; from Larry Landolfi and John Stetson of Portland, Maine; from Cai-Uso Wohler of Bispingen, Germany; from Stefano Sello of Pisa, Italy;
A RAINBOW AT NIGHT: Recipe for a rainbow: Add bright sunlight to raindrops and voila!--a beautiful band of multi-colors arcs across the sky. With such an ingredient list, you might suppose that rainbows can only be seen during the day, yet last night Ethan Tweedie of Kamuela, Hawaii, recorded this spectacular example long after dark:
"It was a moonbow," explains Tweedie. The bright moon played the role of sun, illuminating nightime raindrops falling through the damp Hawaiian air. "I've been trying to photograph a moonbow for a long time. Last night I was driving back from the Volcano there it was!"
Tweedie's long exposure revealed something even more rare: a secondary moonbow. It's the faint 'bow arciing above the brighter primary. Primary rainbows are caused by single reflections inside raindrops; secondary bows are caused by double reflections. It was a night to remember, indeed.
March 2011 Aurora Photo Gallery
[previous Marches: 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002]