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.
PHOTO CONTEST: NASA and Spaceweather.com
have joined forces to launch ... a photo contest.
The target is NanoSail-D,
the first solar sail to orbit Earth. Cash prizes
for the best photos range from $100 to $500. Visit
HOLE: A dark croissant-shaped hole
has opened up in the sun's atmosphere, and it is
spewing a stream of solar wind into space. NASA's
Solar Dynamics Observatory took this picture of
the vast opening during the early hours of Jan.
Click to view a high-resolution
image. Credit: SDO
Researchers call this a "coronal
hole." Solar rotation is turning the coronal
hole toward Earth. The stream of solar wind pouring
from it will swing around and hit our planet in
early February, possibly sparking polar magnetic
storms. High-latitude sky watchers should be alert
for auroras between Feb. 2nd and 4th.
2011 Aurora Photo Gallery
[previous Januaries: 2010,
LIGHT PILLARS: Light pillars are
a common sight around cities in winter. Urban lights
bounce off ice crystals in the air, producing tall
luminous columns sometimes mistaken for auroras.
But the light pillars Mike Hollingshead saw on Jan.
26th near a corn mill in Blair, Nebraska, were decidely
uncommon. "They had V-shaped tops,"
he explains, "and some of the Vs were nested."
Here is what he saw:
"These light pillars are not just rare, they
are exceptional!" declares atmospheric optics
expert Les Cowley. "Ordinary
pillars are produced by plate-shaped ice crystals
roughly half way between you and the light source.
These are different. Their rarely seen flared
tops show that they were made by column-shaped
crystals drifting slowly downwards and aligned horizontal
by air resistance."
"The flares are a form of the upper
tangent arcs that we sometimes see in daytime
halo displays," he continues. "But even
more exotic, some flares have a second one nested
within them! Some ice crystal columns do not rotate
but instead keep two of their prism faces improbably
horizontal to give us the very uncommon Parry
arcs of solar halo displays. The nested flares
here are amazing and probably the light halo equivalent
of Parry arcs."
Eclipse Photo Gallery
Observes Annular Solar Eclipse]
Potentially 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 finding new
all the time.
January 30, 2011 there were 1185
potentially hazardous asteroids.
Notes: LD means
"Lunar Distance." 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