Archive for Space Weather

Meteors from Halley’s Comet

Posted in 2017, astronomy, Galaxy with tags , , , on May 2, 2017 by theboldcorsicanflame



A radar in Canada has detected radio echoes coming from the constellation Aquarius. This is a sign that the annual eta Aquarid meteor shower is underway.

In the days ahead ahead our planet will cross a network of debris streams from Halley’s Comet, producing a drizzle of eta Aquarids numbering 10 to 30 meteors per hour in the northern hemisphere and perhaps twice that number in the southern hemisphere.

These meteors are pieces of Halley’s Comet, hitting Earth’s atmosphere at 66 km/s and disintegrating ~100 km above Earth’s surface. In the days ahead our planet will cross a network of debris streams from the comet, producing a drizzle of eta Aquarids numbering 10 to 30 meteors per hour in the northern hemisphere and perhaps twice that number in the southern hemisphere.

Two leading meteor forecasters have noted the possibility of eta Aquarid outbursts. Mikhail Maslov says meteor activity could increase on May 4th (14h- 18h UT) when Earth grazes a dust trail released by Comet Halley in the year -616. Forecaster Mikiya Sato agrees that that Earth could encounter the -616 dust trail, but later onMay 5th (05h – 15h UT), possibly with such a gentle graze that no special increase is detectable. In most years the strongest activity is seen around May 6th, which may still prove true in 2017.

The best time to look, no matter where you live, is during the dark hours just before dawn when the constellation Aquarius is rising in the east. Monitor the meteor gallery for sightings.

Usually, the eta Aquarid shower peaks around May 6th. This year, there might be an additional enhancement on May 4th or 5th.  Check today’s edition of for more information and observing tips.


Green Comet Approaching Earth

Posted in 2017, Galaxy with tags , , , , on February 6, 2017 by theboldcorsicanflame


This week, a small green comet named “45P/Honda-Mrkos-Pajdusakova” (45P for short) is approaching Earth for one of the closest comet flybys of the Space Age.

On the nights around Feb. 11th, Comet 45P will be an easy target for binoculars and small telescopes, revealing itself in eyepieces as an emerald colored fuzzball.

Visit today’s edition of for sky maps and to find out what makes this little comet so green.

Not every colorful light in the night sky is an aurora

Posted in 2016, astronomy with tags , , , , on October 4, 2016 by theboldcorsicanflame



Photo copyright Beletsky

Especially not in the South Pacific. Yuri Beletsky was on a beach in Easter Island, Chile, two nights ago when the starry canopy turned red:

There was no fire,” says Beletsky. “This is an amazing display of airglow.”

Airglow is aurora-like phenomenon caused bychemical reactions in the upper atmosphere. Human eyes seldom notice the faint glow, because it is usually very faint, but it can be photographed on almost any clear dark night, anywhere in the world.

Beletsky is a veteran photographer of airglow, having captured it dozens of times from sites in Chile and the South Pacific. “The intensity of airglow varies, and sometimes it can be more prominent, as it was on Oct. 2nd,” he says.

The curious thing about Beletsky’s photo is not the intensity of the airglow, but rather its color–red. Airglow is usually green, the color of light from oxygen atoms some 90 km to 100 km above Earth’s surface.

Where does the red come from? Instead of oxygen, OH can produce the ruddy hue. These neutral molecules (not to be confused with the OH- ion found in aqueous solutions) exist in a thin layer 85 km high where gravity waves often impress the red glow with a dramatic rippling structure.

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August is the month when noctilucent clouds (NLCs) typically begin to wane

Posted in 2016, astronomy with tags , , , on August 9, 2016 by theboldcorsicanflame



August is the month when noctilucent clouds (NLCs) typically begin to wane.

Indeed, images from NASA’s AIM spacecraft show the electric-blue oval around the north pole is beginning to recede.

Nevertheless, high-latitude sky watchers are still seeing some impressive displays.



Cosmic rays in the mid-latitude stratosphere now are approximately 10% stronger than they were 1 year ago.

Posted in 2016, astronomy with tags , , on February 10, 2016 by theboldcorsicanflame


Last month, reported that cosmic rays are intensifying. Measurements so far in February 2016 indicate that the trend is continuing. In fact, the latest balloon flight over California on Feb. 5th detected the highest value yet……(together with human pollution…and methane leaks in LA…etc ….we sure have a winner!)


A rare shot with Auroras and Light Pillars in the same image

Posted in 2016, astronomy with tags , , , , on January 14, 2016 by theboldcorsicanflame


Last night in Muonio, Finland, Antti Pietikäinen hiked out onto the frozen surface of the River Muonio to get away from glaring city lights. “I was trying to get a better view of the auroras,” he says. Turns out, he got a great view of both

“I had a rare shot with auroras and light pillars in the same image,” says Pietikäinen.

Light pillars are a common sight around northern cities in winter. Urban lights bounce off ice crystals in the air, producing tall luminous columns sometimes mistaken for auroras.

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The sun has unleashed 3 separate solar storms that have combined to smash into Earth’s atmosphere

Posted in 2015, astronomy, Galaxy with tags , , , , , , on June 24, 2015 by theboldcorsicanflame

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Forecasters say the storm will continue tonight, causing the huge aurora to be visible from the Earth’s north. It should be seen in much of Europe, as long as there are no clouds, and may even be visible as far south as the Canadian border with the US.

But the phenomenon could cause problems with electricity supplies here.

The US Government’s Space Weather Prediction Center (SWCP) said: ‘Aurora watchers in North America, especially northern states of the US, should stay alert.  

‘The geomagnetic storm that began on 22 June has reached G4 (Severe) levels once again as of 0513 UTC (0113 EDT) on 23 June. 

‘Solar wind conditions remain highly favourable for continued Strong Geomagnetic storming, with both fast solar wind and strong magnetic fields.’ 

‘This is the very early stages of an event that will play out over many hours, with SWPC forecasting continuing storm level intensities into tomorrow. 

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