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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SOLAR SAIL STUNNER: In a stunning reversal of fortune, NASA's NanoSail-D spacecraft has unfurled a gleaming sheet of space-age fabric 650 km above Earth, becoming the first-ever solar sail to circle our planet. Get the full story from Science@NASA.
SUNSPOT GENESIS: Over the weekend a huge sunspot broke through the stellar surface. AR1149 popped up right beside existing sunspot AR1147, more than doubling the sunspot number and forming the largest active region of the New Year. Click on the arrow to watch a 2-day SDO movie of sunspot genesis:
The active region is crackling with C-class solar flare, and even stronger M-flares are possible according to NOAA forecasters. Any eruptions in the days ahead will probably not be Earth-directed, however, because the sun's rotation is turning the complex away from our planet.
more images: from Patrick Lécureuil of Mauroux, sud-west France; from Matthew Wastell of Brisbane, Australia; from Robert Arnold of Isle of Skye; from Stefano Sello of Pisa, Italy; from Strikis Iakovos of Athens, Greece; from Ron Cottrell of Oro Valley, Arizona; from Robert Spellman of Azusa, Ca; from Monika Landy-Gyebnar of Veszprem, Hungary
OMEGA SUNSET: "Last night's sunset was an amazing sight," reports Pete Lawrence from West Beach in Selsey, UK. "As the sun approached the horizon, the lower half of the solar disk extended downwards to touch an image of itself rising out of the waves." He took this picture of the phenomenon:
Jules Verne famously likened this kind of sunset to an Etruscan Vase. Others call it an "Omega sunset" because it resembles the Greek letter. Either way, it is caused by warm air overlying the sea surface, which refracts the rays of the setting sun to produce a mirage, as shown.
This is a good weekend to watch the sunset. Not only are mirages a possibility, but also you might observe a sunspot in the twilight. On Jan. 22nd, Martin McKenna witnessed this sunspot sunset from Maghera, Northern Ireland.
January 2011 Aurora Photo Gallery
[previous Januaries: 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2005, 2004]
Solar Eclipse Photo Gallery
[NASA: Hinode Observes Annular Solar Eclipse]
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 January 24, 2011 there were 1184 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 |