Marianne's Heaven On Earth Aurora Chaser Tours Chasethelighttours.co.uk invites you to join them in their quest to find and photograph the Aurora Borealis. Experience the winter wonderland in the Tromsø Area.
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SOLAR WIND BRINGS AURORAS: As predicted, a high-speed stream of solar wind has reached Earth and is buffeting our planet's magnetic field. So far, however, there has been only mild geomagnetic storming. Magnetic fields inside the solar wind stream are not well-connected to Earth's magnetic field, and that mismatch is mitigating its impact.
Despite the mismatch, sky watchers are still seeing some beautiful auroras. Rocky Raybell photographed this display--split down the middle by a Taurid fireball--from Keller, Washington, during the early hours of Nov. 3rd:
"The auroras were not as strong as I expected," he says, "but the fireball made up for any shortcomings." Elsewhere in the United States, auroras were sighted in Michigan, Wisconsin, Montana, and even Ohio.
More auroras are possible tonight, especially around the Arctic Circle, as the solar wind continues to blow. NOAA forecasters estimate an 85% chance of polar geomagnetic storms on Nov. 3rd, waning to 70% on Nov. 4th. Aurora alerts: text or voice
Realtime Aurora Photo Gallery
VOLCANIC LIGHTNING IN MEXICO: In southern Mexico, the Colima volcano has been in a state of near-constant activity since 1994. It's not unusual for several explosions to occur in a single day, throwing plumes of ash 2 or 3 kilometers into the sky. On Oct. 28th, Spaceweather.com reader Thorsten Boeckel was on hand for one of those eruptions--a nighttime blast--and he photographed a violent display of volcanic lightning:
"This mighty stroke illuminated the ash discharge, which rose up over the crater of the 3860m high Colima Volcano," he says. "Pure fascination!"
Researchers have long known that volcanic eruptions produce strong lightning. Findings published in a 2012 Eos article reveal that the largest volcanic storms can rival massive supercell thunderstorms in the American midwest. But why? Volcanic lightning is not well understood.
Lightning is nature's way of correcting an imbalance of electric charge. In ordinary thunderstorms, one part of a thundercloud becomes positively charged, and another part becomes negatively charged. This charge comes from collisions between particles. Droplets of water and crystals of ice rub together, creating static electricity in much the same way as woolen socks rubbed against carpet. Lightning arcs between charge-separated regions.
Something similar must be happening inside volcanic plumes. One hypothesis holds that catapulting magma bubbles or volcanic ash are themselves electrically charged, and by their motion create charge-separated areas. Another possibility is that particles of volcanic ash collide with each other and become charged through triboelectric rubbing. In short, no one knows. It is a beautiful (and terrifying) mystery.
GIANT SUNSPOT HIDES SPACESHIP: Sunspot AR2443 is so big, it is attracting the attention of astrophotographers around the world. Yesterday when Peter Rosén of Stockholm, Sweden, photographed the sprawling complex, he found a spaceship hiding among its dark cores. Seriously. Take a close look at the image below:
Can't find the spaceship? Click here and here. "It is the International Space Station," explains Rosén. "I caught it making a split-second transit of the giant sunspot."
Indeed, AR244 is huge. From end to end it measures almost 200,000 km. Many of the dark cores are as large as terrestrial continents--and a couple are as large as Earth itself. These dimensions make it an easy target for backyard solar telecopes.
Of greater interest is the sunspot's potential for explosive activity. The spotty complex has a 'beta-delta' magnetic field that harbors energy for strong M-class solar flares. Any such explosions will be geoeffective as the sunspot turns squarely toward Earth in the days ahead. Solar flare alerts: text or voice
Realtime Space Weather Photo Gallery
Realtime Meteor Photo Gallery
Every night, a network of NASA all-sky cameras
scans the skies above the United States for meteoritic fireballs. Automated software maintained by NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office calculates their orbits, velocity, penetration depth in Earth's atmosphere and many other characteristics. Daily results are presented here on Spaceweather.com.
On Nov. 3, 2015, the network reported 61 fireballs.
(36 sporadics, 22 Northern Taurids, 2 Orionids, 1 chi Taurid)
In this diagram of the inner solar system, all of the fireball orbits intersect at a single point--Earth. The orbits are color-coded by velocity, from slow (red) to fast (blue). [Larger image] [movies]
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 3, 2015 there were 1632 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.
| ||Cosmic Rays in the Atmosphere |
These measurements are based on regular space weather balloon flights: learn more.
|Situation Report -- Oct. 30, 2015 ||Stratospheric Radiation (+37o N) |
|Cosmic ray levels are elevated (+6.1% above the Space Age median). The trend is flat. Cosmic ray levels have increased +0% in the past month. |
|Sept. 06: 4.14 uSv/hr (414 uRad/hr) |
|Sept. 12: 4.09 uSv/hr (409 uRad/hr) |
|Sept. 23: 4.12 uSv/hr (412 uRad/hr) |
|Sept. 25: 4.16 uSv/hr (416 uRad/hr) |
|Sept. 27: 4.13 uSv/hr (413 uRad/hr) |
|Oct. 11: 4.02 uSv/hr (402 uRad/hr) |
|Oct. 22: 4.11 uSv/hr (402 uRad/hr) |
Approximately once a week, Spaceweather.com and the students of Earth to Sky Calculus fly "space weather balloons" to the stratosphere over California. These balloons are equipped with radiation sensors that detect cosmic rays, a surprisingly "down to Earth" form of space weather. Cosmic rays can seed clouds, trigger lightning, and penetrate commercial airplanes. Our measurements show that someone flying back and forth across the continental USA, just once, can absorb as much ionizing radiation as 2 to 5 dental X-rays. Here is the data from our latest flight, Oct. 22nd:
Radiation levels peak at the entrance to the stratosphere in a broad region called the "Pfotzer Maximum." This peak is named after physicist George Pfotzer who discovered it using balloons and Geiger tubes in the 1930s. Radiation levels there are more than 80x sea level.
Note that the bottom of the Pfotzer Maximim is near 55,000 ft. This means that some high-flying aircraft are not far from the zone of maximum radiation. Indeed, according to the Oct 22th measurements, a plane flying at 45,000 feet is exposed to 2.79 uSv/hr. At that rate, a passenger would absorb about one dental X-ray's worth of radiation in about 5 hours.
The radiation sensors onboard our helium balloons detect X-rays and gamma-rays in the energy range 10 keV to 20 MeV. These energies span the range of medical X-ray machines and airport security scanners.
| ||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 |
| ||Web-based high school science course with free enrollment |