A solar flare photographed in different wavelengths of light by the SDO. Image Credit: NASA/SDO
We had a bit of an aurora last night, it was nice to see. The Boulder K index was 6 for a while.
This was all thanks to an X-class flare which was imaged by the Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO). The flare took place at 12:25 UTC (24 February, 19:25 EST).
The SDO took images in different wavelengths and you can see the result. Larger versions of the image can be found at this NASA page.
Watch the video!
And if you missed the aurora don’t worry more will happen, I saw this one by accident myself, thanks to the dog. LOL.
I was going to do a post about the Black Widow Pulsars tomorrow and then I saw the video and thought “why not”.
Part 2 of yesterday’s video will post in a few days, I’ve not forgotten . . . yet.
Saturn’s D ring. mage Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute
Here is the D ring of Saturn. Being faint and narrow it’s sometimes not noticed between the C ring and the planet, it just doesn’t stand out too well.
You can see part of the planet at the top of the picture the D ring next to it is the D ring. In about three years and things go as planned Cassini will pass between the two.
There are 12 stars in the image too.
An image of the flash resulting from the impact of a large meteorite on the lunar surface on 11 September 2013, obtained with the MIDAS observatory. Credit: J. Madiedo / MIDAS
A meteorite with about the mass of a small car impacted the moon last September and it was seen by Spanish astronomers. I don’t often mention Spanish astronomers, more the pity and bad on me. Spain has some of the best observers and astronomers as there are anywhere.
In this case on 11 September 2013, Prof. Jose M. Madiedo was operating two telescopes in the south of Spain that were searching for these impact events. At 2007 UTC he witnessed an unusually long and bright flash in Mare Nubium, an ancient lava-filled basin with a darker appearance than its surroundings.
We are hearing about this now because the scientists involved published their description of the event in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. By the way, video links are included below the fold.
The Spanish telescopes are part of the Moon Impacts Detection and Analysis System (MIDAS) system that monitors the lunar surface. This project is being undertaken by Prof. Jose Maria Madiedo, from the University of Huelva (UHU), and by Dr. Jose L. Ortiz, from the Institute of Astrophysics of Andalusia (IAA-CSIC) and continues a pioneering program that detected sporadic lunar impact flashes for the first time.
This is Part 1 “The Encounter Begins”
A dress rehearsal for the encounter with Pluto by the New Horizons spacecraft.
ESA’s Gaia satellite as seen with the Very Large Telescope Survey Telescope at the European Southern Observatory in Chile. Credit: ESO / ESA
The Gaia satellite is 1.5 million km away and is orbiting a spot in space known as L2. The spot, L2 is a Lagrange point, think of it as a gravity balance point and makes a nice parking spot. ESA has a more in depth explanation of Lagrange points..
ESA can actually keep tabs on Gaia visually. I think this is just amazing. Using the Very Large Telescope at the European Southern Observatory in Chile Gaia actually can be seen. It’s a very small satellite very far away, over a million times fainter than can be see with the human eye.
From the ESA caption:
To measure Gaia’s position in the sky, a network of small and medium telescopes are monitoring the spacecraft on a daily basis. This information is being fed into the orbit reconstruction being performed at ESA’s Space Operations Centre, yielding an accuracy of 150 m on Gaia’s position and of 2.5 mm/s on its motion.
These two images, taken about 6.5 minutes apart on 23 January, are the result of a close collaboration between ESA and the European Southern Observatory to observe Gaia.
Read the full ESA caption here.
NuStar shows exploding stars “slosh around” before they blast apart.
Quite lumpy looking. Thanks JPL!
The Hubble team have been watching hundreds of individual stars in the the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC) over the past seven years and have mapped out their movements. What they got for their “trouble” is a precise measurement of the rotation of the galaxy! This is a first too.
The answer? The LMC rotates once every 250 million years, about the same as our solar system does in the Milky Way.
Read the Full Story at Hubblesite.org.
The Cygnus cargo ship just after being released from the ISS robotic arm. Click for larger. Credit: NASA TV
Orbital Sciences Corporation is putting the final touches on the first its first operational resupply of the International Space Station with the Cygnus cargo ship.
Cygnus left the the ISS this morning at 11:41 UTC when it was released the robot arm 260 miles above the South Atlantic east of Argentina. Once released Cygnus “set sail” so to speak by firing thrusters for a minute and a half to get it out of a safety zone maintained around the ISS.
On Wednesday (19 February) a couple of braking manuvers will slow the Cygnus enough to cause it to fall out of orbit in a controlled fashion.
Cygnus was launched a little over a month ago and on 12 January after a three day journey from Wallops Island Virginia, it arrived at the ISS with almost 2,800 pounds of supplies.
After the supplies were removed from Cygnus it was refilled with trash from the station. No recycling here, the Cygnus and its contents will burn up during the re-entry interface with the atmosphere. The re-entry if we can call it that, will occur at around 18:20 UTC tomorrow, Wednesday 19 February over the Atlantic between South America and New Zealand.
Static image from OVATION. Click to go to the OVATION page with live images. Credit NOAA
The US Space Weather Prediction Center and the Space Weather Prediction Testbed recently introduced a new Auroral Foercast (test) product.
The Auroral Forecast product is based ont eh OVATION Prime model providing a 30 to 40 minute forecast on auroral displays and probabilities for both polar regions. The model itself was developed by P. Newell at the Johns Hopkins, Applied Physics Lab. Scientists at the NESDIS National Geophysical Data Center (NGDC) added further refinements to make the model run in real time.
The model uses data from the Advanced Composition Explorer (ACE) satelite. For the displays, the model takes the ACE data and provides output in terms of energy per unit area and converts that into a relative intesity map and that is further translated into a probability of observation. The resulting images show where the aurora most likely will be seen and how intense it is likely to be.
The release of the OVATION product is timely as we should be seeing an increase in auroral activity.
What is the solar cycle progression shaping up? Quite close to predictions.
The image is a static image of the northern hemisphere, click it to go to the OVATION page and get a live look at both poles or you can click here.