Can you drop a probe on a comet? A new iPhone game from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory puts you in control of the Rosetta spacecraft as it prepares to intercept Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. Download it now.
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PERIGEE "SUPER MOON" ON MAY 5-6: Get ready for moonlight! The full Moon of May 5-6, 2012, is a perigee moon, as much as 14% bigger and 30% brighter than other full moons of 2012. [video] [full story]
METEORS FROM HALLEY'S COMET: Earth is entering a stream of debris from Halley's Comet, source of the annual eta Aquarid meteor shower. The shower peaks this weekend; the best time to look is during the hours before sunrise on Sunday, May 6th. Because the shower's radiant is located below the celestial equator, southern hemisphere observers are favored, but even northerners should be able to see a few flecks of Halley-dust disintegrating in the atmosphere. Super-bright moonlight will cap the meteor rate at about 30 per hour.
In recent nights, NASA's all-sky meteor network has picked up a number of early eta Aquarid fireballs. This one was bright enough to shine through the glow of sunrise and clouds over Tullahoma, Tennessee, on April 29th:
According to analysts at NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office, this particular speck of comet dust hit the atmosphere traveling 62 km/s (139,000 mph) and disintegrated about 84 km (52 mi) above Earth's surface.
The full Moon of May 5-6, 2012, with interfere with the visibility of the eta Aquarid peak. Radar signals, however, penetrate moonlight with ease. Tune into Space Weather Radio for live echoes from eta Aquarids passing over the US Air Force Space Surveillance Radar in Texas.
SUNSPOT MIRAGE: When the sun rose over Veszprem Hungary on May 1st, big sunspot AR1471 split into three pieces. "It was a mirage--the strongest I have ever seen!" says Monika Landy-Gyebnar, who photographed the apparition:
Landy-Gyebnar explains how she arranged the photo-op: "We had a nice, clear and windless morning. I set up my camera where I could see the sun rising over a cold valley where fog often collects; it is a location colder then its surroundings. I hoped the inversion layer at the valley would provide some distortion--and indeed it did. The image I saw when sun appeared was incredible!"
The entire event lasted no more than a few minutes, "but it seemed to be a century to me!" she says. A short animation of the mirage may be found here.
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 May 3, 2012 there were 1287 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 |