| BEHOLD THE SUN: Would you like to see fiery prominences and new-cycle sunspots with your own eyes? On sale now: Personal Solar Telescopes. || || |
AURORA WATCH: High-latitude sky watchers should be alert for auroras tonight and tomorrow. A solar wind stream is heading toward Earth and could arrive as early as Oct. 28th: gallery.
SOLAR EXPLOSION: Yesterday, Oct. 27th, something exploded on the far side of the sun. The blast hurled a coronal mass ejection (CME) over the sun's western limb where the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory caught it in flight:
Click to launch a 0.3 MB movie
The CME was not aimed at Earth (for the record, it is heading in the general direction of Saturn), so there will be no space weather consequences for our planet. What caused the explosion? Possibilities include a farside sunspot or a collapsing magnetic filament. Whatever the source, it was a break from the relentless calm of recent months. The sun is alive, after all.
VOLCANIC SUNSETS: Three months ago, Alaska's Kasatochi volcano spewed more than a million tons of volcanic ash and sulfur dioxide into the stratosphere. Much of that "stuff" is still up there. It's drifting around the northern hemisphere causing displays like this:
"After sunset on Oct. 26th, I saw a lovely purple colour in the western sky," says photographer Pete Glastonbury of Devizes, UK. "It lasted for about 15 minutes."
Purple is one of the telltale signs of a volcanic sunset. Fine volcanic aerosols in the stratosphere scatter blue light which, when mixed with ordinary sunset red, produces a violet hue. But purple isn't the only thing to look for, says atmospheric optics expert Les Cowley. In addition, he advises, "be alert for a very bright yellow twilight arch, fine cloud structure in the arch seen through binoculars, and long diffuse rays and shadows from the west."
One or more of these flags may signal a wisp of volcanic debris drifting over your hometown. Go outside at the end of the day and look west. Kasatochi could be waiting.
more images: from Doug Zubenel of De Soto, Kansas; from Peter Tarr of Queens, New York City; from Jeffrey Berkes of West Chester, PA; from Liem Bahneman of Bothell, WA; from John Flude of Lower Willingdon, East Sussex UK; from Andy English in the Cibola National Forest of New Mexico.; from P-M Hedén of Vallentuna, Sweden;
2008 Orionid Meteor Gallery
[IMO meteor counts] [2006 Orionids]