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ONE WEEK TO THE ROSETTA COMET: The European Space Agency's Rosetta spacecraft is now less than 1700 km from Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. In only 7 days, Rosetta will reach the comet's core and go into orbit around it. Latest images from the probe's navigation camera show a strangely-shaped nucleus that is coming into sharper focus day by day. Follow the action @ESA_Rosetta.
DARK FILAMENT ON THE SUN: As the sunspot number rebounds from a deep low in mid-July, the chance of flares is increasing, too. However, the biggest threat for a flare today might not be a sunspot at all. Instead, our attention turns to a long dark filament of magnetism:
Astrophotograher Jack Newton photographed the structure on July 29th from his observatory in Osoyoos, British Columbia. Stretching more than 100,000 km from end to end, and filled with dense plasma, the sinuous filament is held aloft by solar magnetic fields. If it snaps or collapses and hits the stellar surface below, the result could be a Hyder flare--a type of explosion that does not require a sunspot.
NOAA forecasters estimate an increasing 25% chance of M-flares and a small but non-negligible 5% chance of X-flares on July 30th. Solar flare alerts: text, voice
Space Weather Photo Gallery
THE MARS COMET APPROACHES: On Oct. 19, 2014, Comet Siding Spring (C/2013 A1) will pass extremely close to Mars. For a while last year researchers thought the comet's core might strike the planet's surface. Now we know that it will be a near miss. Siding Spring will glide by Mars 132,000 km away--ten times closer than any comet has come to Earth in recorded history. On July 27th, Rolando Ligustri photographed the comet gliding through a field of galaxies en route to Mars:
"I took the picture using a telescope at the Siding Spring Observatory in Australia (where the comet was discovered)," says Ligustri. " The big galaxy to the south of the comet is NGC1316."
Although the comet's nucleus will not strike Mars, there is a good chance that gas and dust spewing out of the comet's core will interact with the Martian atmosphere. There could be a meteor shower, auroras, and other effects that no one can predict. NASA's fleet of Mars spacecraft and rovers will record whatever happens.
Amateur astronomers can monitor the comet's approach to Mars in the months ahead. Right now, Siding Spring is gliding through the southern constellation Fornax glowing about as brightly as a 12th magntitude star. Mid-sized telescopes equipped with sensitive CCD cameras are required. [light curve] [ephemeris] [3D orbit]
Comet Photo Gallery
Meteor Photo Gallery
Aurora Photo Gallery
NLC Photo Gallery
Every night, a network
all-sky cameras scans the skies above the United
States for meteoritic fireballs. Automated software
maintained by NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office
calculates their orbits, velocity, penetration depth
in Earth's atmosphere and many other characteristics.
Daily results are presented here on Spaceweather.com.
On Jul. 29, 2014, the network reported 22 fireballs.
(18 sporadics, 2 Perseids, 1 Southern delta Aquariid, 1 alpha Capricornid)
In this diagram of the inner solar system, all of the fireball orbits intersect at a single point--Earth. The orbits are color-coded by velocity, from slow (red) to fast (blue). [Larger image] [movies]
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.
July 30, 2014 there were 1493
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