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.
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AURORA WATCH: A series of coronal mass ejections (CMEs) en route to Earth from sunspot 1158 will buffet our planet's magnetic field during the next 24-48 hours. NOAA forecasters estimate a 45% chance of geomagnetic activity on Feb. 17th. High-latitude sky watchers should be alert for auroras.
AMAZING SUNSPOT MOVIE: Less than a week ago, sunspot 1158 didn't exist. Now it is wider than the planet Jupiter and unleashing the strongest solar flares since Dec. 2006. Click on the arrow to witness the amazing 5-day development of this active region, courtesy of NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory:
more images: from Rogerio Marcon of Campinas SP Brasil; from Paul Maxson of Surprise, Arizona; from Andre van der Hoeven of Hendrik-Ido-Ambacht, The Netherlands; from Karzaman Ahmad of Langkawi National Observatory, Malaysia; from Jan Timmermans of Valkenswaard, The Netherlands; from Stefano Sello of Pisa, Italy; from Jim Saueressig II of Burlington, Kansas; from Efrain Morales Rivera of Aguadilla, Puerto Rico; from Pavol Rapavy of Observatory Rimavska Sobota, Slovakia
MAN-MADE COMET CRATER: In July 2005, NASA's Deep Impact spacecraft dropped an 820-lb copper projectile onto the surface of Comet Tempel 1. Almost six years later, NASA finally saw the impact crater. On Valentine's Day 2011, long after the dust had cleared, Stardust-NExT flew past Tempel 1 and photographed the impact site:
It's not very impressive--and that is telling. The lack of a well-defined crater reveals much about the structural integrity of the comet's surface. Science team member Pete Schultz of Brown University explains: "We see a [shallow] crater with a small mound in the center, and it appears that some of the ejecta went up and came right back down. This tells us this cometary nucleus is fragile and weak based on how subdued the crater is we see today."
Stay tuned for updates as the analysis progresses beyond the "first-look" stage, and meanwhile, browse the flyby gallery.
February 2011 Aurora Photo Gallery
[previous Februaries: 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2004, 2003, 2002]
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 February 16, 2011 there were 1198 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 |