| Where's Saturn? Is that a UFO--or the ISS? What's the name of that star? Get the answers from mySKY--a fun new astronomy helper from Meade. || || |
CRESCENT MOON ALERT: A crescent moon of perilous beauty is about to appear in the evening sky. The best night to look is Tuesday, April 8th, when the moon joins the Pleiades star cluster for a must-see conjunction: full story.
SOLAR ACTIVITY: "It may be solar minimum, but this looping prominence shows there is still plenty of action on the sun," says John Nassr, who sends this picture from his backyard observatory in the Baguio, the Philippines:
Subsequent photos by observers in Europe show the prominence changing shape and even lifting off the sun's surface. Such a dynamic structure may be unstable and eventually collapse. Could a Hyder flare be in the offing? Probably not, but monitoring is encouraged. (Note: A Hyder flare is a no-sunspot solar flare caused by the collapse of a magnetic filament or prominence.)
BONUS: "On Saturday, the flaming spaghetti strands of the prominence were magnificent," reports Larry Alvarez of Flower Mound, Texas, who made a video of the action using a Coronado Maxscope90. "The duration of the video is over 3 hours but I compressed it into a few seconds to show the motion."
more images: from Franck Charlier of Marines, Val d'Oise - France; from Mark Walters of Four Crosses, Powys, Wales, UK; from Joel Bavais of Anvaing, Belgium; from Adrian Guzman of San Jose California; from Mike Borman of Evansville, Indiana; from James Kevin Ty of Manila , Philippines; from Robert Arnold on the Isle of Skye, Scotland; from Emiel Veldhuis of Zwolle, the Netherlands; from Cai-Uso Wohler of Bispingen, Germany; from Stephen Ames of Hodgenville, Kentucky;
DARK MOZART: NASA's MESSENGER spacecraft has beamed back a new photo of Mozart, but it doesn't look much like Amadeus:
This is the Mozart, the crater. MESSENGER took the picture on January 14th during the spacecraft's historic flyby of Mercury. On that planet craters are named for people who have made important contributions to the arts--e.g., Mozart, Vivaldi, Matisse and others. Crater Mozart was christened in the 1970s after its discovery by Mariner 10, the first spacecraft to visit Mercury.
MESSENGER's new picture of Mozart shows something Mariner 10 missed: strange dark markings on the crater floor and dark rays shooting across the crater's upthrust rims. What is this material? No one knows, but it is probably kin to the mysterious dark halos found around other craters in nearby Caloris Basin. Spectral data gathered by Messenger and being analyzed now by mission scientists may yet reveal Mozart's composition.
March 2008 Aurora Gallery
[Aurora Alerts] [Night-sky Cameras]