AURORA ALERTS: Did you miss the Northern Lights? Next time get a wake-up call from Space Weather PHONE
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SPACE PLANE FOUND: The US Air Force's X-37B space plane, which disappeared last week, has been found again. Satellite watcher Greg Roberts sighted the secret mini-shuttle flying over Cape Town, South Africa, on Oct 12th. An analysis of the sighting by satellite expert Ted Molczan suggests that the X-37B has maneuvered into an orbit 54 km lower than before. Readers, you can see the space plane for yourself; let your cell phone be your guide.
NEW SUNSPOT ERUPTS: New sunspot 1113 emerged over the sun's northeastern limb yesterday and immediately announced itself with a towering eruption. NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) recorded the blast on Oct. 13th around 1600 UT:
Magnetic fields reconnecting above the sunspot produced a B4-class solar flare and hurled a narrow coronal mass ejection into space: SOHO movie. Earth was not in the line of fire--but this could change in the days ahead as the sunspot turns to face our planet. Readers with solar telescopes are encouraged to monitor developments.
MONTANA AURORAS: On Oct. 11th, a bright curtain of Northern Lights unfurled along the US-Canadian border. Watching from Glasgow in northern Montana, Ben Fyngyrz took this picture:
Photo details: Canon EOS 50D, 4 seconds, ISO 1600, f/1.8
"The lights didn't make it all the way down to my latitude," he says , "but the side-view was interesting because it showed the vertical structure of the auroras." More of Ben's photos show dark clouds and a 19th century prairie house backlit by the auroras--very pretty.
The display was triggered by a "south-pointing IMF." In other words, the interplanetary magnetic field near Earth tilted south, opening a crack in Earth's magnetosphere. Solar wind poured in and fueled a G1-class geomagnetic storm. The storm is over now, but the lights are still dancing in the gallery.
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 October 14, 2010 there were 1149 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 |