Metallic photos of the sun by renowned photographer Greg Piepol bring together the best of art and science. Buy one or a whole set. They make a stellar gift.
| || |
THE UN BRACES FOR STORMY SPACE WEATHER: Forecasters say solar maximum is due in 2013. To prepare, the United Nations is taking steps to organize an international response to stormy space weather. Get the full story from Science@NASA.
VALENTINE'S DAY MAGNETIC STORM: Valentine's Day in Scandinavia began with a magnetic storm. Rob Stammes of the Polar Light Center in Lofoten, Norway, reports: "Our instruments recorded 2o swings in the local magnetic field, which induced strong electrical currents in the ground outside our lab." The needles on his chart recorder were swinging wildly:
"Overhead we saw some fantastic auroras," he adds.
The storm was caused by a region of south-pointing magnetism in the solar wind that wafted past Earth during the early hours of Feb. 14th. The solar wind's south-pointing magnetic field partially canceled Earth's north-pointing magnetic field, opening a crack in our planet's magnetosphere. Solar wind poured in to fuel the storm.
Browse the realtime gallery for images of some sweet auroras on Valentine's day. Aurora alerts: text, voice.
Realtime Aurora Photo Gallery
ASTEROID FLYBY: At 9:30 am on Friday, Feb. 15th, asteroid 2012 DA14 will fly past Earth only 17,200 miles above our planet's surface. This will put it well inside the orbit of geosynchronous satellites, closer than any asteroid of the same size has come since regular sky surveys began in the 1990s. Researchers speculate that Earth's gravity might even cause seismic activity on the 50m-wide space rock. Click to view a computer simulation of the flyby, courtesy of NASA:
During the hours around closest approach, the asteroid will brighten until it resembles a star of 8th magnitude. Theoretically, that’s an easy target for backyard telescopes. The problem is speed. The asteroid will be racing across the sky, moving almost a full degree (or twice the width of a full Moon) every minute. That’s going to be hard to track. Only the most experienced amateur astronomers are likely to succeed. For the rest of us, NASA will broadcast the asteroid's flyby on NASA TV.
Asteroid 2012 DA14 is about the same size as previous asteroids responsible for the Meteor Crater in Arizona and the Tunguska Event in Siberia. Unlike those objects, however, 2012 DA14 will not hit Earth. Even if seismic activity breaks the asteroid apart, there is no danger; the fragments would continue along the same non-intersecting path as the original asteroid.
Realtime Space Weather Photo Gallery
Realtime Comet Photo Gallery
Realtime Noctilucent Cloud Photo Gallery
[previous years: 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011]