They came from outer space--and you can have one! Genuine meteorites are now on sale in the Space Weather Store.
| || |
ASTEROID MOON DISCOVERED: Radar images of approaching asteroid 1998 QE2 show that it is a binary system. The 2.7 km wide primary is circled by a smaller 600 meter satellite. Get the full story from Science@NASA
MAGNIFICENT COMET TAIL: This week, Earth passed through the orbital plane of Comet Pan-Starrs. This allowed observers to see the comet's fan-shaped tail edge on. Veteran astrophotographer Chris Schur of Payson, Arizona, judged it "the finest long anti-tail we have ever imaged in the past 35 years of comet photography!" This picture, taken by Pete Lawrence of Selsey UK, shows less than half of the comet's tail; click on the image to see the rest:
"Wow - as Earth crossed the orbital plane of comet C/2011 L4 PANSTARRS, the comet's orbital plane spike or 'anti-tail' became very impressive, stretching for more than 7 degrees across the sky," says Lawrence.
The narrow linear structure is called an anti-tail because it points toward the sun, opposite the usual direction of comet tails. In fact, this is an artifact of the viewing geometry. Gas and dust evaporating from the comet is not being sucked back toward the sun.
Amateur astronomers with mid-sized backyard telescopes can see the anti-tail for themselves. Comet Pan-Starrs is shining like a 9th magnitude star not far from Polaris, the North Star. More: NASA video, 3D orbit, ephemeris, light curves.
Realtime Comet Photo Gallery
CORONAL HOLE: A hole in the sun's atmosphere--a "coronal hole"--has opened up and it is spewing solar wind into space. NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory photographed the UV-dark gap during the early hours of May 29th:
Coronal holes are places where the sun's magnetic field spreads apart and allows solar wind to escape. A windy stream of plasma flowing from this particular hole should reach Earth on June 2-3. The impact could spark geomagnetic storms and auroras around the poles. Aurora alerts: text, voice.
Realtime Space Weather Photo Gallery
BEAUTIFUL VENUS-JUPITER PAIRING: The sunset triangle of May 26th is breaking up, but the show is not over. As the triple conjunction disperses, Venus is passing Jupiter only 1 degree away. Rafael Schmall sends this picture of the encounter from Kaposfő, Hungary:
"I've been waiting for days to take this picture," says Schmall. "There was some fog out, but the steam on the lens turned out to be an advantage."
Watching the two brightest planets move so close together is a wonderful way to end the day. Look west at sunset! NASA: video, full story.
Realtime Planet Photo Gallery
Realtime Noctilucent Cloud Photo Gallery
[previous years: 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011]
Realtime Aurora Photo Gallery