Lights Over Lapland has a full catalogue of exciting adventures in Abisko National Park, Sweden! Check out our daytime and evening activities and book your adventure!
EARTH-DIRECTED SOLAR FLARE AND CME: A coronal mass ejection CME is heading for Earth. It was hurled into space during the early hours of Jan. 30th by big sunspot AR2936. The underlying explosion was a long duration M1-class solar flare, which produced an asymmetric halo CME. Watch the movie. The CME will probably arrive on Feb. 1-2. Stay tuned for a more refined forecast. Aurora alerts: SMS Text.
BIG SUNSPOT ALERT: New sunspot AR2936 has rapidly grown into one of the largest active regions of young Solar Cycle 25, quadrupling in size in only 48 hours. This 2-day movie from NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory shows the sunspot’s rapid development:
As the sunspot turns toward Earth, the chance of an Earth-directed flare is increasing. NOAA forecasters say there is a 20% chance of M-class flares today and a 5% chance of powerful X-flares—odds that could increase further as the weekend unfolds.
The scale of this sunspot makes it an easy target for backyard solar telescopes. AR2936 has multiple dark cores larger than Earth, and the entire group stretches more than 100,000 km across the surface of the sun. This is an ideal sunspot for projection techniques.
Yesterday in Cannes, France, amateur astronomer Francois Rouviere caught the sunspot in mid-flare:
«To take the picture I used an AiryLab Celestron 8 solar telescope with a DayStar Ion 0.3A H-alpha filter,» says Rouviere. «There was a lot of activity surging up and down the sunspot’s magnetic field lines.»
The sunspot is currently producing a C-class flare every 4 or 5 hours. Amateur astronomers who point safely-filtered optics at this active region have a good chance of catching one, just like Rouviere did. Solar flare alerts: SMS Text.
THE CRESCENT VENUS PENDANT: Valentine’s Day is coming. Nothing says «I love you» like a Venus Pendant from the edge of space. This one flew to the stratosphere onboard a cosmic ray research balloon on Jan. 8, 2022:
You can have it for $142.95. The opal crescent is framed by sterling silver with a matching hypoallergenic chain. It comes with a greeting card showing the pendant in flight and telling the story of its journey to the stratosphere.
Why is it a crescent? Because Venus itself was a crescent on the date of the flight. On Jan. 8, 2022, the second planet was at inferior conjunction with the sun. From Earth it looked like a slender crescent—the most beautiful phase of the Goddess of Love
Far Out Gifts: Earth to Sky Store
All sales support hands-on STEM education
|All Sky Fireball Network|
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 Jan 30, 2022, the network reported 5 fireballs.
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]
|Near Earth Asteroids|
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.
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|
SPACE WEATHER BALLOON DATA: Almost 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 sensors that detect secondary cosmic rays, a form of radiation from space that can penetrate all the way down to Earth’s surface. Our monitoring program has been underway without interruption for 7 years, resulting in a unique dataset of in situ atmospheric measurements.
Latest results (Nov. 2021): Our balloons have just measured a sudden drop in atmospheric radiation. It happened during the strong geomagnetic storms of Nov. 3-4, 2021. Here are the data:
This is called a «Forbush decrease,» named after American physicist Scott Forbush who studied cosmic rays in the early 20th century. It happens when a CME from the sun sweeps past Earth and literally pushes cosmic rays away from our planet. Radiation from deep space that would normally pepper Earth’s upper atmosphere is briefly wiped out.
We have measured Forbush decreases before. For example, here’s one from Sept. 2014. The Forbush Decrease of Nov. 3-4, 2021, was the deepest in the history of our 7-year atmospheric monitoring program. Radiation levels in the stratosphere over California dropped nearly 20%, more than doubling the previous record from our dataset.
En route to the stratosphere, our sensors also pass through aviation altitudes, so we can sample radiation where planes fly. This plot shows how the Forbush decrease was restricted to the stratosphere; it did not affect lower levels of the atmosphere:
The dose rates shown above are expressed as multiples of sea level. For instance, we see that boarding a plane that flies at 25,000 feet exposes passengers to dose rates
10x higher than sea level. At 40,000 feet, the multiplier is closer to 50x. The higher you fly, the more radiation you will absorb.
.Who cares? Cosmic rays are a surprisingly «down to Earth» form of space weather. They can seed clouds, trigger lightning, and penetrate commercial airplanes. According to a study from the Harvard T.H. Chan school of public health, crews of aircraft have higher rates of cancer than the general population. The researchers listed cosmic rays, irregular sleep habits, and chemical contaminants as leading risk factors. Somewhat more controversial studies (#1, #2, #3, #4) link cosmic rays with cardiac arrhythmias and sudden cardiac death.
.Technical notes: 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.
Data points in the first graph («Stratospheric Radiation») correspond to the peak of the Regener-Pfotzer maximum, which lies about 67,000 feet above central California. When cosmic rays crash into Earth’s atmosphere, they produce a spray of secondary particles that is most intense at the entrance to the stratosphere. Physicists Eric Regener and Georg Pfotzer discovered the maximum using balloons in the 1930s and it is what we are measuring today.
|Essential web links|
|NOAA Space Weather Prediction Center|
|The official U.S. government space weather bureau|
|The first place to look for information about sundogs, pillars, rainbows and related phenomena.|
|Solar Dynamics Observatory|
|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|
|Solar and Heliospheric Observatory|
|Realtime and archival images of the Sun from SOHO.|
|information about sunspots based on the latest NOAA/USAF Active Region Summary|
|Daily Sunspot Summaries|
|from the NOAA Space Environment Center|
|NOAA 27-Day Space Weather Forecasts|
|fun to read, but should be taken with a grain of salt! Forecasts looking ahead more than a few days are often wrong.|
|Aurora 30 min forecast|
|from the NOAA Space Environment Center|
|the underlying science of space weather|
To get the best views of the cosmos, check out the Phoenix Window Glass Replacement experts for all your window and glass needs
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