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NOCTILUCENT CLOUDS BEHAVING STRANGELY: Noctilucent clouds have surprised researchers by appearing early this year. The unexpected apparition of electric-blue clouds before the middle of May hints at a change in the "teleconnections" of Earth's atmosphere. NASA: video, full story
M-CLASS SOLAR FLARE: At the end of the day on June 7th (2249 UT) departing sunspot AR1762 unleashed a strong M5.9-class solar flare. NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) recorded the extreme ultraviolet flash:
Because of the sunspot's location on the sun's southwestern limb, the blast was not particulary geoeffective. X-radiation from the flare ionized Earth's upper atmosphere, but only briefly, while a CME that flew away from the blast site is expected to miss our planet entirely. Solar flare alerts: text, voice.
NORTHERN LIGHTS IN THE USA: On June 7th, Earth passed through a region of south-pointing magnetism in the solar wind. This triggered a G2-class (Kp=6) geomagnetic storm. At its peak, the storm spawned Northern Lights as far south as the central USA. "Yes, I really am in Kansas," says photographer Clay Bramhall who sends this picture from the plains city of Goff, KS:
"The aurora surprised me," he says. "I could see the lights streaking up and down."
More auroras are in the offing. A CME that left the sun on June 5th is expected to deliver a glancing blow to Earth's magnetic field during the late hours of June 8th (or early hours of June 9th). NOAA forecasters estimate a 65% chance of geomagnetic storms when the CME arrives. Aurora alerts: text, voice.
Realtime Aurora Photo Gallery
ALBERT EINSTEIN ORBITS EARTH: On the afternoon of June 5th, the European Space Agency launched a robotic spaceship named "Albert Einstein" into Earth orbit. Also known as "ATV-4" (Automated Transfer Vehicle 4), the Albert Einstein is a cargo carrier laden with supplies for the International Space Station. Marco Langbroek saw it flying over Leiden, the Netherlands, just two hours after launch:
"The ATV-4 was very bright (mag +1 to +0.5) and easily visible to the naked eye, even from Leiden center," Langbroek. "Still in a low orbit, it was very fast."
To resupply the space station, the Albert Einstein is carrying the most dry cargo ever launched by a European spacecraft--2,480 kilograms, and the most diverse cargo mix--1400 different items. It will catch up to and dock with the ISS on June 15th. As that date approaches, the ATV-4 and the ISS will become visible in the night sky at the same time. Turn your smartphone into an ISS tracker and enjoy the show. ISS Flyby alerts: text, voice.
Realtime Space Weather Photo Gallery
Realtime Noctilucent Cloud Photo Gallery
[previous years: 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011]
Realtime Comet Photo Gallery