AURORA ALERTS: Did you miss the Northern Lights? Next time get a wake-up call from Space Weather PHONE
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SOLAR ACTIVITY UPDATE: After unleashing one of the brightest X-ray flares in years on Saturday, Nov. 6th, sunspot 1121 took Sunday off. No strong flares were recorded for the rest of the weekend. Nevertheless, the active region's magnetic field is complex and harbors energy for more eruptions. NOAA forecasters estimate an 85% chance of M-flares during the next 24 hours.
NEW COMET IKEYA-MURAKAMI: Newly-discovered comet C/2010 V1 (Ikeya-Murakami) is putting on a good show for anyone with a backyard telescope and an alarm clock. The clock is for getting up before dawn, and the telescope is for seeing this:
Leonid Elenin took the picture on Nov. 7th using a robotic telescope in New Mexico. "The comet is rapidly changing," he reports. "The shape of its atmosphere reminds me of Comet Holmes after it had an outburst in 2007."
Indeed, Comet Ikeya-Murakami might be experiencing a similar event. The icy visitor from the outer solar system made its closest approach to the sun (1.7 AU) in late October, so it has recently received a strong dose of solar heating. Ice pockets could be evaporating, comet-caverns collapsing, who knows?
Amateur astronomers are encouraged to monitor developments. Various reports put the brightness of the comet between 7th and 9th magnitude, invisible to the naked eye but an easy target for telescopes such as the Comet Hunter. It's easy to find, too, little more than a degree from Saturn in the eastern sky before dawn. Set your alarm and happy hunting! [Sky maps: Nov 8, 9, 10, 11] [3D orbit] [ephemeris]
more images: from Gil Esquerdo of Whipple Observatory, Mt. Hopkins, Arizona (Nov. 8); from Tenho Tuomi of Lucky Lake, SK, Canada (Nov. 7); from Gregg Ruppel of Ellisville, Missouri (Nov. 7); from Feys Filip of Crete, Greece (Nov. 6); from Gregg Ruppel of Ellisville, Missouri (Nov. 6); from Gregg Ruppel of Ellisville, Missouri (Nov. 5); from Luca Buzzi of the G.V. Schiaparelli Astronomical Observatory in Varese, Italy (Nov. 4);
M5 SOLAR FLARE: Active sunspot 1121 has unleashed one of the brightest x-ray solar flares in years, an M5.4-class eruption at 15:36 UT on Nov. 6th. Click on the image to view a movie of the blast from NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory:
Radiation from the flare created a wave of ionization in Earth's upper atmosphere that altered the propagation of low-frequency radio waves. There was, however, no bright CME (plasma cloud) hurled in our direction, so the event is unlikely to produce auroras in the nights ahead. This is the third M-flare in as many days from this increasingly active sunspot. So far none of the eruptions has been squarely Earth-directed, but this could change in the days ahead as the sun's rotation turns the active region toward our planet. Now might be a good time to sign up for space weather alerts.
more images: from Rogerio Marcon of Campinas SP Brasil; from Michael Borman of Evansville, Indiana; from Cai-Uso Wohler of Bispingen, Germany; from Andrew Phethean of Aberdeen UK
October 2010 Aurora Gallery
[previous Octobers: 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001]
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 ones
all the time.
On November 8, 2010 there were 1164potentially 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.
| ||The official U.S. government space weather bureau |
| ||The first place to look for information about sundogs, pillars, rainbows and related phenomena. |
| ||Researchers call it a "Hubble for the sun." SDO is the most advanced solar observatory ever. |
| ||3D views of the sun from NASA's Solar and Terrestrial Relations Observatory |
| ||Realtime and archival images of the Sun from SOHO. |
| ||from the NOAA Space Environment Center |
| ||the underlying science of space weather |