AURORA ALERTS: Did you miss the Northern Lights? Next time get a wake-up call from Space Weather PHONE
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AURORA WATCH: High-latitude sky watchers should be alert for auroras. Earth is entering a solar wind stream that could spark geomagnetic activity around the Arctic Circle. Images: from Wim van Caspel of Laukvik, Lofoten, Norway.
PLUMES ON JUPITER: Astronomers are monitoring a cluster of energetic plumes breaking through the cloudtops of Jupiter. Regard the image below. Each of the bright spots is a massive convection cell rising high above the usual cloud deck:
Australian astrophotographer Anthony Wesley took the picture on Nov. 17th using a 16-inch telescope and a 890 nm "methane band" filter. Jupiter's atmosphere is permeated with methane, CH4, a strong absorber of sunlight at 890 nm. That's why the giant planet looks so dark in Wesley's image. The only things bright in the methane band are high-rising hazes and plumes that reflect sunlight before it enters the planet's methane-dark interior.
"When a transient convective plume becomes methane-bright, it means that it is extending exceptionally high above the normal cloud-tops," explains John H. Rogers, director of the British Astronomical Association's Jupiter Section. "What we see on Jupiter now is an exceptionally energetic weather system. It resembles (and may actually be) a gigantic thunderstorm."
If planetary scientists are correct, these plumes are heralds of a much bigger event--the return of Jupiter's South Equatorial Belt, which mysteriously disappeared almost a year ago. Soon, the planet-girdling belt could pop up through the cloudtops like a submarine surfacing from depth. Stay tuned.
STRESS RELIEF: The tension was just too great. On Nov. 21st around 1600 UT, a twisted filament of solar magnetism suddenly untwisted, producing a towering eruption off the sun's northwestern limb. Click on the image to play a 6-hour time lapse movie from the Solar Dynamics Observatory:
Movie formats: 3 MB gif, 1.2 MB iPad, 0.3 MB iPhone, 1 MB hi-res still frame
Earth was not in the line of fire. No geomagnetic storms or auroras are expected as a result of the blast. Moreover, now that the filament has relaxed, it poses little threat for future eruptions. There is, however, another filament that bears watching. Stay tuned for updates.
November 2010 Aurora Gallery
[previous Novembers: 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000]
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 November 23, 2010 there were 1164 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 |