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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TATOOINE IS REAL: The existence of a world with a double sunset, as portrayed in the film Star Wars more than 30 years ago, is now scientific fact. NASA's Kepler mission has made the first unambiguous detection of a "circumbinary planet"--a planet orbiting two stars--200 light-years from Earth. [full story]
AURORA AND RAINBOW: Normally, glaring moonlight is a poor complement to gossamer auroras. On Sept. 10th, however, they met in perfect combination over Latvia. "I was photographing auroras during a strong geomagnetic storm," reports Kaspars Kurcens from the city of Cesis. "The Harvest Moon was so bright that it created a rainbow in a distant thundercloud." (continued below)
More auroras are possible on Sept. 17th when a CME is expected to deliver a glancing blow to Earth's magnetic field. Good news: The Moon has waned over the past week, so darker skies will be available for aurora watching. Bad news: Lunar rainbows are fading, too, so any display will likely be auroras alone. High-latitude sky watchers should be alert for pure Northern Lights.
September 2011 Aurora Gallery
[previous Septembers: 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004]
GROWING SUNSPOTS: Sunspot complex 1295-1296 has more than doubled in area and quadrupled in spot count since Sept. 14th. Click to view a two-day movie of the expanding active region:
Earth-orbiting satellites are detecting the electromagnetic crackle of C-class flares in the region's magnetic canopy. This activity could intensify if the region's growth continues apace. Readers with solar telescopes are encouraged to monitor developments. Solar flare alerts: text, voice.
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 September 16, 2011 there were 1244 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 |
| ||for out-of-this-world printing and graphics |