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INCREASING CHANCE OF FLARES: Today, NOAA forecasters have boosted the odds of an M-class solar flare to 40%. The reason: A large and potentially active sunspot is emerging over the sun's northeastern limb. Giuseppe Petricca sends this picture of the behemoth from Sulmona, Abruzzo, Italy:
"The sunspot looks really great, with many structures around and in the middle of it!" reports Petricca.
Numbered AR2321, this sunspot has an unstable 'beta-gamma' magnetic field that harbors energy for strong eruptions--maybe even X-flares. NOAA puts the odds of an X-class eruption at 15%.
Sprawling more than 120,000 km from end to end, the sunspot group has several dark cores larger than Earth. These dimensions make AR2321 an easy target for backyard solar telescopes. If you have one, take a look. Solar flare alerts: text, voice
Realtime Space Weather Photo Gallery
VENUS AND THE SEVEN SISTERS, DRESSED IN GREEN: Around the world, sky watchers have been enjoying the close encounter between Venus and the Pleiades star cluster, visible every evening in the western sky after sunset. On April 11th, photographer Jerry Magnum Porsbjer of Moskosel, Sweden, went outside to see the show and got more than he expected: "There appeared some auroral rays like sharp beams around Venus and the Pleiades," he says.
"I rapidly attached a telephoto lens to my camera and got this interesting photo," he says. "In the picture you can see the aurora, Venus, the Pleiades and a satellite--the short dash top right. A few seconds later all the aurora rays were gone! It was brief but beautiful."
You don't have to live in the Arctic for a beautiful view of the conjunction. When the sun goes down tonight, step outside and look west as the sky fades to black. The bright Goddess of Love is only a few degrees from the delicate Seven Sisters. It's a nice way to end the day--no auroras required.
Realtime Space Weather Photo Gallery
GOODBYE WINTER, HELLO SUMMER: Around the Arctic Circle, the summer sun is rising and, as a result, night is disappearing. "Our seasons are changing," says Thomas Kast of Siikajoki, Finland, who photographed the transition on April 10th:
"Just a week ago, the Gulf of Bothnia was still completely frozen here," says Kast. "Now only the ice in the boat marina (on the left side of the photo) is still intact. If you look closely on the right side of the photo, you will see a wobbly line from ice floes drifting in the waves."
"On the horizon, the afterglow from the sunset was visible for many hours," he adds. "Due to the aftereffects of the G2-class geomagnetic storm, auroras were visible to the eye very early."
This photo says it all: "Goodbye winter, hello summer."
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Every night, a network of NASA 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 Apr. 12, 2015, the network reported 4 fireballs.
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 ones
all the time.
On April 12, 2015 there were 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.
| ||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 |