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GEOMAGNETIC STORM UNDERWAY: A minor (Kp=5) geomagnetic storm is underway around the poles as a medium-speed solar wind stream buffets Earth's magnetic field. High-latitude sky watchers should be alert for auroras. Aurora alerts: text, voice.
FADING COMET PAN-STARRS STILL PHOTOGENIC: "Comet Pan-STARRS continues to fade," reports University of Colorado atmospheric sciences Prof. Richard Keen. "My latest estimate from yesterday puts it at 3rd magnitude." This means the comet is 15 times fainter than it was when it emerged from within the orbit of Mercury on March 11th. Despite the fade, Pan-STARRS remains visible to the naked eye (barely) and very photogenic. Keen took this picture on March 25th:
"This is my favorite of several recent images," says Keen. "It's an Ansel Adams knock-off, using some of the master's techniques to bring the comet out of the moonlight."
He explains: "I Anselized the pictures by running them through a yellow filter (digitally, on the computer), just as Ansel Adams famously did to darken the sky and enhance the snow covered mountains. Since the dusty comet is also yellow, it really popped out with the yellow filtering. Then, convert the image to Black & White and play with the contrast a bit, and--voila! The comet jumps out of the moonlight!"
"After tonight those tricks won't be necessary because the full Moon will be leaving the evening sky."
More: NASA video, 3D orbit, ephemeris, light curves.
Realtime Comet Photo Gallery
AURORA WATCH: A medium-speed solar wind stream is buffeting Earth's magnetic field, sparking auroras around the Arctic Circle bright enough to see through full moonlight. Jónína Óskarsdóttir sends this picture taken last night from Faskrudsfjordur, Iceland:
"The moon lit up the snow-covered landscape for a very nice display," says Óskarsdóttir. "This is a 6 second exposure I made using my Canon EOS 5D digital camera set at ISO 1600."
Other Arctic photographers, take note of those photo settings. More auroras are likely tonight as the solar wind continues to blow. Aurora alerts: text, voice.
Realtime Aurora Photo Gallery
Realtime Space Weather Photo Gallery
Realtime Noctilucent Cloud Photo Gallery
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