Hang the Transit of Venus on your wall! Hubble-quality images from NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory are now available as metallic posters in the Space Weather Store.
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TOTAL ECLIPSE OF THE SUN: Scientists and sky watchers are converging on the northeast coast of Australia, near the Great Barrier Reef, for a total eclipse of the sun on Nov. 13/14. For researchers, the brief minutes of totality open a window into some of the deepest mysteries of solar physics. [video] [full story]
FARSIDE EXPLOSION: As solar activity picks up on the Earthside of the sun (see "Broken Quiet" below), the farside of the sun is coming alive, too. During the early hours of Nov. 9th, a magnetic filament located behind the sun's southeastern limb erupted, hurling a bright coronal mass ejection (CME) into space:
This explosion was not geoeffective, but future explosions might be. The blast site, still potent, is just days away from rotating onto the Earthside of the sun. You can monitor its progress using NASA's 3D Sun app for smartphones, which makes it easy to view and explore the farside of the sun.
BROKEN QUIET: A weeks-long spell of solar quiet was broken on Nov. 8th (02:34 UT), when new sunspot AR1611 unleashed an M1.7-class flare. NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory captured the extreme UV flash:
Because of the blast site's location on the sun's northeastern limb, Earth was not in the line of fire. It will take about a week for this new active region to turn squarely toward our planet. Stay tuned for updates as the chance of geoeffective flares increases in the days ahead. Solar flare alerts: text, voice.
OBAMA VISITS THE EDGE OF SPACE: After winning re-election Tuesday, President Obama is on top of the world. Literally. A group of high school students in Bishop, California, has launched a Barack Obama bobblehead to the edge of space using a suborbital helium balloon. Here is a picture of the president on Nov. 5th approximately 120,000 feet above Earth's surface:
This flight was conducted by the same students who earlier this year launched NASA's rubber chicken into a solar storm to sample high protons from the sun. "Sending Obama into the stratosphere was just for fun," says team member Amelia Phillips. "But it was good practice for more serious projects, such as our flights to measure solar flares and photograph meteor showers." The group, which calls itself "Earth to Sky Calculus," has been flying suborbital helium research balloons for two years; this is the first time the President has gone for a ride.
Images and video from the flight are still being processed. Here are some first looks: Video: Obama at 120,000 feet (8 MB); the balloon pops (1.2 MB); The President's wild ride (19 MB); Still images: Fractured balloon; Obama over Mono Lake; Mitt was there, too!
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