CME 6-5-14

                                                                                              CME  6-5-2-14




Solar wind
speed: 357.8 km/sec
density: 5.1 protons/cm3

FLYING SAUCER UPDATE: This weekend, NASA's "flying saucer"--a device designed to deliver heavy payloads to Mars--made its first test flight over Hawaii. "The vehicle worked beautifully, and we met all of our flight objectives," reports project manager Mark Adler of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Flight videos and a full report were issued at a news conference on June 29th.




Solar wind
speed: 355.7 km/sec
density: 7.5 protons/cm3



Solar wind
speed: 354.6 km/sec
density: 6.1 protons/cm3

SLIGHT CHANCE OF MAGNETIC STORMS: NOAA forecasters estimate a 20% chance of polar geomagnetic storms this weekend in response to a minor solar wind stream blowing past Earth's magnetic field. High-latitude sky watchers should be alert for auroras

SPRITES AND GRAVITY WAVES: The sprite show continues. "Every day this week, I have been able to photograph red sprites shooting up from the tops of thunderstorms 400 miles away in Colorado, Nebraska and Kansas," reports Jan Curtis of Santa Fe, NM. On June 27th he saw something more: "At around 10:30PM MDT, gravity wave clouds developed and intensified through midnight." This snapshot shows a red sprite cutting through the green ripples:

While I could not detect them with my unaided eyes, time lapse revealed that the waves were moving very slowly to the northeast."

The waves are, literally, the ripple effect of a powerful thunderstorm on themesosphere some 80 km above Earth's surface. From space, these waves look like a giant atmospheric bull's eye. The green hue comes from airglow, an aurora look-alike that can be seen on very dark nights from any place on Earth.

Although airglow resembles the aurora borealis, its underlying physics is different. Airglow is caused by an assortment of chemical reactions in the upper atmosphere driven mainly by solar ultraviolet radiation. Auroras, on the other hand, are fueled by gusts of solar wind. While auroras are confined mainly to polar regions, airglow makes a luminous bubble that surrounds the entire planet.

The undulations in the airglow Curtis photographed are caused by temperature and density perturbations rippling away from the central axis of the distant thunderstorm. Speaking simplistically, those perturbations alter chemical reaction rates in the upper atmosphere, leading to more-bright or less-bright bands depending on whether the rates are boosted or diminished, respectively.

Inhabiting the upper reaches of Earth's atmosphere alongside meteors, noctilucent clouds and some auroras, sprites and mesospheric gravity waves are true space weather phenomena. Now is a good time to see them.

SOMETHING IN THE OFFING: Solar activity has been low for more than a week, but this could change as a cluster of active regions emerges over the sun's eastern limb. Towering magnetic loops shown in this June 28th UV image from NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory herald their arrival:


The incoming sunspots include old regions AR2080, AR2082, and AR2085, which have just finished a two-week transit around the farside of the sun--a hemisphere that could soon become invisible to us because of troubles with STEREO.

NOAA forecasters have posted an escalating series of flare probabilities in response to the approaching active regions. A 5% chance of M-flares today triples to 15% by Monday. Amateur astronomers with backyard solar telescopes are encouraged to monitor developments



Solar wind
speed: 323.4 km/sec
density: 2.7 protons/cm3

SPEAKING OF THE FARSIDE.... During the early hours of June 27th, a series of bright CMEs billowed over the sun's northern limb. The Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) recorded the blasts: 

SUN BLAST 6-27-14

NASA's STEREO probes saw the eruptions that gave birth to these clouds; the blast sites were on the farside of the sun. During STEREO's year-long brownout, pinpointing farside eruptons won't always be possible. Data trickling out of the STEREO's antenna's sidelobes simply cannot provide the kind of uninterrupted coverage required to catch every flare.

The situation could worsen if, during STEREO's absense, something happens to SOHO. Launched in 1995, the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory is an old spacecraft operating far beyond its design lifetime. A mishap for SOHO could leave us without any operating space-based coronagraphs until STEREO comes back online in late 2015. Such a scenario would make it impossible to detect and track emerging CMEs. Imagine a whole year of space weather forecasting based on supposition and guesswork! This possibility highlights the need for a next generation of spacecraft to monitor the sun.



Solar wind
speed: 353.7 km/sec
density: 4.3 protons/cm3

Very quiet sun



Solar wind
speed: 351.2 km/sec
density: 6.5 protons/cm3

Listen to radar echoes from satellites and meteors, live on listener-supported Space Weather Radio.


QUIET SUN: With only three small sunspot groups dotting the solar disk, and not one of them flaring, solar activity is low. NOAA forecasters estimate a scant 1% chance of M-flares on June 25th. Solar flare alerts: text, voice

GIGANTIC SPRITES OVER THE USA: With the arrival of summer, thunderstorm activity is underway across the USA. We all know what comes out of the bottom of thunderstorms: lightning. Lesser known is what comes out of the top: sprites. "Lately there has been a bumper crop of sprites," reports Thomas Ashcraft, a longtime observer of the phenomenon. "Here is one of the largest' 'jellyfish' sprites I have captured in the last four years." The cluster shot up from western Oklahoma on June 23, so large that it was visible from Ashcraft's observatory in New Mexico 289 miles away:

"According to my measurements, it was 40 miles tall and 46 miles wide. This sprite would dwarf Mt. Everest!" he exclaims.

Also in New Mexico, Jan Curtis saw a cluster of red sprites just one night later, June 24. "I've always wanted to capture these elusive atmospheric phenomena and last night I was finally successful."

Although sprites have been seen for at least a century, most scientists did not believe they existed until after 1989 when sprites were photographed by cameras onboard the space shuttle. Now "sprite chasers" regularly photograph the upward bolts from their own homes.

Ashcraft explains how he does it: "My method for photographing sprites is fairly simple.  First I check for strong thunderstorms within 500 miles using regional radar maps accessible on the Internet. There must be a locally clear sky to image above the distant storm clouds. Then I aim my cameras out over the direction of the thunderstorms (which will be hot red or purple on the radar maps) and shoot continuous DSLR exposures. I usually shoot continuous 2 second exposures but if there is no moon then I will shoot up to 4 second exposures. Then I run through all the photographs and if I am lucky some sprites will be there. It might take hundreds to usually  thousands of exposures so be prepared for many shutter clicks. I use a modified near infrared DLSR but any DLSR will capture sprites. Note that it does require persistence and a little bit of luck."

Inhabiting the upper reaches of Earth's atmosphere alongside meteors, noctilucent clouds and some auroras, sprites are a true space weather phenomenon. Now is a good time to see them.

Realtime Space Weather Photo Gallery

SPECTACULAR HALO OVER FINLAND: Looking at the sun can be a wincing, painful experience. Yesterday in Finland it was a rare delight. "On June 24th, multiple arcs and rings of light appeared around the sun," reports Ville Miettinen of Kuopio. "What a spectacular view!" He dashed inside and grabbed his camera to record the amazing vista:

"They lingered in the sky for three whole hours," he says, "only disappearing when thick clouds intervened."

These luminous forms are called ice halos, because they caused by sunlight shining through icy crystals in cirrus clouds. Usually their forms are rather simple, like a solitary pillar or an uncomplicated ring. In this case, however, a complex assortment of halos criss-crossed the sky. In Miettinen's photo, we see a completeparhelic circle, a circumscribed halo, a supralateral arc, a 22-degree halo, and a pair of sundogs.

Vesa Vauhkonen of Rautalampi, Finland, saw even more forms. "These were very, very impressive halos--some of them quite rare," he says. Another set of photos from Jari Kankaanpää of Kauhava, Finland, may be the most astronishing of all.

The variety of halos they witnessed was caused by a corresponding variety of ice crystals with rare gem-like perfection and unusually precise crystal-to-crystal alignment. What are the odds? No one knows but, apparently, they're higher in Finland. Another place to look for rare halos is in the realtime gallery:



Solar wind
speed: 309.3 km/sec
density: 3.2 protons/cm3

AMATEUR ASTRONOMERS PHOTOGRAPH A DAMOCLOID: If you've never heard of a "damocloid", don't feel bad; even many professional astronomers don't know what they are. However, there are at least 50 of them moving through the Solar System. Named after protoptype object 5335 Damocles, a damocloid is an asteroid that follows a comet-like orbit. In fact, many damacloids turn out to becomets when, without warning, they suddenly sprout a tail. The latest to make this transformation is damacloid 2013 UQ4. Michael Jäger photographed it on June 23rd from his backyard observatory in Stixendorf, Austria:

Discovered in the fall of 2013 by Catalina Sky Survey, 2013 UQ4 at first appeared to be a dark asteroid. On May 7, 2014, however, astronomers noticed a fuzzy atmosphere surrounding object's formerly-inert core. Barely two months later, it has sprouted a tail and is undeniably a comet. 2013 UQ4 swung by the sun in early June, a warm encounter that boosted the activity of its apparently icy nucleus. 2013 UQ4 is expected to brighten to binocular visibility (7th magnitude) by July 10th when it flies by Earth approximately 29 million miles (0.3 AU) away.

Want to see a damacloid with your own eyes? Sky maps and observing tips may be found in this article by David Dickinson.



Solar wind
speed: 327.8 km/sec
density: 1.6 protons/cm3

Northern Lights - a Guide

THE FIRST MAGNETIC STORM OF SUMMER, DELAYED: A CME expected to hit Earth's magnetic field on June 22nd is overdue. However, NOAA forecasters believe it is merely late, not off-target. Minor geomagnetic storms are possible on June 23rd when the CME finally arrives. Aurora alerts: text, voice

TRIPLE RING AROUND THE SUN: Regular sky watchers are accustomed to seeing rings of light around the sun. Called "ice halos," they form when sunlight shines through ice crystals in high clouds. Usually these rings appear one at a time. On June 21st, Jun Lao of Mason, Ohio, saw three at once:

"It was about 4 p.m. EDT in the greater Cincinnati area when I imaged what I first thought was a regular halo, but was surprised to see three concentric halos!" says Lao. "The sky had a light cloud layer, and I suspect these multiple halos were caused by pyramidal ice crystals."

Indeed, they were. Ordinary sun halos are produced by crystals shaped like pencils and flat plates. On rare occasions, however, the sky fills with pyramidal crystals. They look like two pyramids glued together, base-to-base. The pyramid-tips are sometimes truncated, and sometimes the two pyramids are separated by an intervening prism section, creating 18 different variations with up to 20 sides. Such a complicated crystalline form can produce multiple halos during the same display.

These multiple halos are sometimes called "odd-radius halos." However, as atmospheric optics expert Les Cowley points out, "Odd radius halos are perhaps not so 'odd' or rare as usually thought. Make a point of routinely searching for them."



Solar wind
speed: 371.6 km/sec
density: 1.8 protons/cm3



Solar wind
speed: 411.3 km/sec
density: 1.8 protons/cm3

CHANGING SEASONS: Today is the June solstice. At 6:51 a.m. EDT on June 21st, the sun reached its northernmost point on the celestial sphere (+23.5o declination) marking the start of summer and the longest day of the year in the northern hemisphere. In the southern hemisphere, it is the start of winter and the shortest day. Either way, happy solstice!



Solar wind
speed: 452.7 km/sec
density: 4.9 protons/cm3

Noctulicent clouds (NLCs) are a phenomenon of summer. Ironically, that is when the top of Earth's atmosphere is cold enough to form ice crystals around meteor smoke--the "stuff" of NLCs. So, you know the summer solstice is near when the late-night sky starts to look like this:

"This fine display of NLCs lasted a number of hours and was visible all across Northern Ireland," says photographer Andy McCrea of Bangor in County Down. "These pictures were taken around 3am on June 20th."

Mark McKenna of Maghera, Northern Ireland, also saw the cloud's signature electric-blue ripples. "Last night's absolutely spectacular noctilucent cloud display was one of the best I have seen in years," he says. "The NLCs were beautiful, glowing vivid white then blue. Of note were the graceful whirls, herringbone, sharp bands and lacunosus holes, the NLCs were even casting shadows onto other NLC forms."

Long ago, NLCs were confined to the Arctic, but in recent years they have been sighted as far south as Colorado and Utah. Some researchers think the increasing visibility is a sign of climate change. Whatever the cause, sky watchers should be alert for NLCs as northern summer unfolds.

Observing tips: Look west 30 to 60 minutes after sunset when the Sun has dipped 6o to 16o below the horizon. If you see luminous blue-white tendrils spreading across the sky, you may have spotted a noctilucent cloud.



Solar wind
speed: 415.0 km/sec
density: 2.1 protons/cm3

On June 7th, the students ofEarth to Sky Calculus sent two vails of halobacteria to the edge of space onboard a suborbital helium balloon. The tiny astronauts set a new high-altitude ballooning record for their species: 116,000 feet. Students have just finished reducing data from the flight and found that the bacteria were exposed to cosmic radiation levels 29 times higher than Earth-normal:

The bacteria were also frozen solid. During their passage through the tropopause temperatures plummeted to -60 degrees C. They experienced this blast of cold twice, once during the ascent and again as they were parachuting back to Earth.

Amazingly, the bacteria survived. Students have incubated the microbes, and they are now growing happily in a Petri dish at +40 degrees C. The next step in the experiment is to compare the flown microbes with a control sample to determine what fraction survived the combined thermal-radiation shock of their trip to the edge of space.

Astrobiologsts have long wondered if halobacteria, a terrestrial extremophile with a special talent for shielding itself from UV radiation, could survive on the planet Mars. The Earth to Sky experiments suggest the answer may be "yes." Stay tuned for updates from the Petri dish.

See also: "Teen launch balloons to the Edge of Space" from the LA Times




Solar wind
speed: 463.6 km/sec
density: 7.9 protons/cm3

GEOMAGNETIC STORM IN PROGRESS: A minor (G1-class) geomagnetic storm is in progress on June 18-19 due to unsettled solar wind conditions. High-latitude sky watchers shoud be alert for auroras.



Solar wind
speed: 412.3 km/sec
density: 5.6 protons/cm3

SUMMER SUN HALO: Around the northern hemisphere, sky watchers are starting to report a rainbow-colored sun halo that appears almost-exclusively during summer: the circumhorizon arc. "I saw one on June 13th. It was very bright," says Michail Anastasio, who snapped this picture from the cockpit of a plane flying 20,000 feet over Singapore:

Nicknamed the "fire rainbow" because of its fiery rainbow colors, this apparition in fact has nothing to do with either fire or rainbows. It is caused by sunlight refracting through plate-shaped ice crystals in cirrus clouds. The geometry of the refractionrequires that the sun be high in the sky (above 58o), which explains why this is a summertime phenomenon.

June and July are the best months to see circumhorizon arcs. Look for them circling the horizon sometimes in patches, sometimes not, always brightly decorated with pure and well separated prismatic colors. You'll know it when you see it. More examples may be found in the realtimme photo gallery:




Solar wind
speed: 343.0 km/sec
density: 2.6 protons/cm3

HARSH SPACE WEATHER DOOMS LIFE ON RED DWARF PLANETS: Red dwarfs are by far the most numerous type of star in the Galaxy, accounting for as much as 80% of the stellar population of the Milky Way. Because of this, astronomers looking for potentially habitable worlds have targeted red dwarf stars. A new study, however, shows that harsh space weather might strip the atmosphere of any rocky planet orbiting in a red dwarf's habitable zone, dooming life as we would know it in a majority of the Galaxy's planetary systems. [full story]

SOLAR ACTIVITY: With several active sunspots rotating over the sun's western limb, departing for the farside, solar activity is quieting. The departure, however, is a riot. J. P. Brahic sends this picture from Uzès, France:

Brahic inserted an image of Earth for scale. The dark cores of the departing sunspots are about the size of our planet, and the surrounding tangle of magnetic filaments could swallow Earth with room to spare. Brahic took the picture through cirrus clouds using a 9 inch solar telescope.

These sunspots are leaving behind at least one region still capable of major flares: AR2087 is almost directly facing Earth and it has a 'beta-gamma' magnetic field that harbors energy for M-class eruptions. Any flares from AR2087 this weekend would hit Earth head on.

TIME TO CHECK YOUR SOLARCANS: The northern summer solstice is just one week away. According to Jan Koeman of Philippus Lansbergen Observatory in Middelburg,the Netherlands, that means "it's time to check your solarcans." A solarcan, a.k.a. solargraph, is a pinhole camera made from a soda or beer can lined with a piece of photographic paper. Using such a simple device, it is possible to take extraordinarily long exposures of the daily sun--in this case, six months long. Yesterday, Koeman opened a solarcan he deployed in December, and this is what he found:

Normally, solarcans record the graceful tracks the sun makes across the sky as the seasons unfold--high tracks corresponding to summer, low tracks to winter. In this case, the tracks were interrupted because Koeman deployed his solarcan inside a lighthouse. "I worried that the powerful light from the lighthouse would overwhelm the sun. Luckily our sun is much stronger. However, the fresnel prisms in the lighthouse were chopping up the sunlight."

Got a solarcan? Open it up and submit your images.

6-month Solargraph How-to Guides: #1, #2, #3



Solar wind
speed: 351.5 km/sec
density: 3.0 protons/cm3

DELAYED IMPACT? A CME expected to hit Earth's magnetic field on Friday the 13th did not show up. Either it missed or, as NOAA forecasters suspect, the storm cloud is still en route. A glancing blow on June 14th could spark a G1-classgeomagnetic storm. Aurora alerts: text, voice

DEPARTING SUNSPOTS: Two sunspots that have threatened Earth with flares during the past week will soon be gone. AR2080 and AR2085 are about to disappear over the sun's western limb. "These two amazing sunspot groups are saying goodbye with a splendid array of prominences, filaments and minor flare activity," reports Sergio Castillo who sends this parting shot from his backyard observatory in Corona, CA:

Although these sunspots are leaving, they still pose a threat to Earth. Both of them are well-connected to our planet by the sun's spiraling magnetic field. If one of them erupts this weekend--a distinct possibility--energetic particles could be funneled by magnetic forces back toward Earth, causing a solar proton storm.

Meanwhile, another active sunspot is not leaving: AR2087 is almost directly facing Earth and it has a 'beta-gamma-delta' magnetic field that harbors energy for X-classsolar flares. Any eruption from this sunspot would hit Earth head on. NOAA forecasters estimate a 30% chance of X-flares on June 14th.  Solar flare alerts:text, voice



Solar wind
speed: 402.9 km/sec
density: 6.8 protons/cm3

POSSIBLE GEOMAGNETIC STORM TODAY: A coronal mass ejection hurled into space by the double X-flare of June 10th could sideswipe Earth's magnetic field today. NOAA forecasters estimate a 50% chance of polar geomagnetic storms in response to the glancing blow.


Solar wind
speed: 367.5 km/sec
density: 5.2 protons/cm3

Full Moon On Friday The 13th Won't Happen Again Until 2049

FRIDAY THE 13th FULL MOON: For soccer fans, Friday the 13th is a lucky day because the World Cup is underway. The world's biggest sports event began yesterday in Brazil with a game between the host country and Croatia. (Brazil won.) To celebrate the kickoff, Jean-Baptiste Feldmann took this picture of the Moon rising over Nuits-Saint-Georges, France:

The fact that this month's full Moon falls on Friday the 13th has been widely noted in the media. Such a coincidence is not particularly rare. The last Friday the 13th full Moon occurred in March 1998. The next one will be in August 2049.

Neither is the coincidence unlucky. Folklore holds that all kinds of wacky things happen under the light of a full Moon.  Supposedly, hospital admissions increase, the crime rate ticks upward, and people behave strangely. The idea that the full Moon causes mental disorders was widespread in the Middle Ages. Even the word "lunacy," meaning "insanity," comes from the Latin word for "Moon."  The majority of modern studies, however, show no correlation between the phase of the Moon and the incidence of crime, sickness, or human behavior. This is true even on Fridays.

moon elevations

This is the first transit of the sun by a planet observed from any planet other than Earth, and also the first imaging of Mercury from Mars. Mercury fills only about one-sixth of one pixel as seen from such a great distance, so the darkening does not have a distinct shape. Nevertheless, it is definitely Mercury as the shadow follows Mercury's expected path based on orbital calculations.

On Earth, it is possible to observe solar transits of Mercury and Venus, although they are rare. Last seen in June 2012, Venus transits are typically separated by more than a hundred years. The next Mercury transit visible from Earth will be May 9, 2016.  Mercury and Venus transits are visible more often from Mars than from Earth, and Mars also offers a vantage point for seeing Earth transits. The next of each type visible from Mars will be Mercury in April 2015, Venus in August 2030 and Earth in November 2084.



Solar wind
speed: 350.9 km/sec
density: 2.9 protons/cm3



Solar wind
speed: 606.3 km/sec
density: 3.1 protons/cm3


SOLAR MINI-MAX: NASA and NOAA agree: Solar Max has arrived, but this "mini Max" is not like any other solar maximum of the Space Age. Get the full story and a video from Science@NASA.

THIS IS AMAZING  http://www.spaceweather.com/images2014/11jun14/cme_anim.gif?PHPSESSID=m6d17adls50plncfaqufkpj1r2

The movie shows a faint CME associated with the first X-flare emerging around 1200 UT. A second, brighter CME from the second X-flare quickly overtakes it, forming a "cannibal CME." Computer models run yesterday by NOAA analysts suggest the merged storm cloud will reach Earth mid-day on June 13th. The glancing blow could spark polar geomagnetic storms.

Meanwhile, more X-flares are in the offing. At least two sunspots (AR2080 and AR2087) have unstable 'delta-class' magnetic fields that could erupt at any moment. The source of yesterday's X-flares, AR2087, is particularly potent, and it is turning toward Earth. NOAA forecasters estimate a 60% chance of M-flares and a 30% chance of X-flares on June 11th



Solar wind
speed: 393.1 km/sec
density: 1.0 protons/cm3

DOUBLE X-FLARE:  Breaking a weeks-long spell of quiet, the sun erupted on June 10th, producing not one but two X-class solar flares. The source is a new sunspot just emerging over the sun's southeastern limb. This active region is not squarely facing our planet.  However, it will become increasingly geoeffective as it turns toward Earth in the days ahead.

DOUBLE X-FLARE: Forecasters expected an X-flare today, and the sun complied. The source, however, was unexpected. A new sunspot (AR2087) suddenly emerging from behind the sun's southeastern limb erupted twice, producing an X2.2-flare at 11:42 UT and an X1.5-flare at 12:52. This extreme ultraviolet image from the Solar Dynamics Observatory shows the first blast:

X-rays and UV radiation from the double flare created a wave of ionization in Earth's upper atmosphere, altering the normal propagation of radio transmissions over Europe. Rob Stammes recorded the sudden ionospheric disturbance (SID) from his laboratory in Lofoton, Norway: data. Preliminary coronagraph images from NASA's STEREO probes show a bright CME emerging from the blast site, traveling mostly away from the sun-Earth line. No strong impacts are expected.

Before today's double-eruption, forecasters had been keeping a wary eye on sunspot complex AR2080/AR2085. Almost directly-facing Earth, those two sunspots have 'delta-class' magnetic fields that harbor energy for X-flares. The emergence of sunspot AR2087 on the southeastern limb adds another potent source to the mix. Solar activity is high, and likely to remain so in the days ahead. Solar 

SPECTACULAR NOCTILUCENT CLOUDS: Last night, June 9th, a spectacular display of noctilucent clouds (NLCs) swept across central Europe. "I have waited three years to take a picture like this," says Piotr Majewski who witnessed the apparition at the Torun Centre for Astronomy in Poland:

"Noctilucent cloud season has officially begun here in Poland," says Marek Nikodem. "I saw the same display from the town of Szubin, and it was spectacular." Nikodem is a long-time photographer of noctilucent clouds. Last night he framed a nest ofstorks backlit by electric blue.

Noctilucent clouds are a summertime phenomenon. NASA's AIM spacecraft spotted the first NLCs of the 2014 season on May 24th, and they have been intensifying ever since. Long ago, NLCs were confined to the Arctic, but in recent years they have been sighted as far south as Colorado and Utah. Some researchers think the increasing visibility is a sign of climate change. Whatever the cause, sky watchers should be alert for NLCs as northern summer unfolds.

Observing tips: Look west 30 to 60 minutes after sunset when the Sun has dipped 6o to 16o below the horizon. If you see luminous blue-white tendrils spreading across the sky, you may have spotted a noctilucent cloud.

WAITING FOR AN X-FLARE: Sunspot AR2080 s now squarely-facing Earth, an arrengement which could lead to a geoeffective X-flare. The sunspot has a 'beta-gamma-delta' magnetic field that harbors energy for strong eruptions, and it has been growing rapidly alongside several companion spots. These developments are shown in a three-day movie from NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory:

As the sunspots have ballooned in size, they have attracted the attention of sunset photographers. This snapshot, submited by Mila Zinkova of San Francisco CA, shows the sunspots bizarrely distorted by atmospheric refraction beneath a lovely green flash.

Now if only one of them would flare.... NOAA forecasters estimate a 45% chance of M-flares and a 15% chance of X-flares on June 10th. Solar flare alerts: text, voice



Solar wind
speed: 423.9 km/sec
density: 1.4 protons/cm3

PURPLE AURORAS: Over the weekend, the sky above Canada and many northern-tier US states turned purple. It was the aurora borealis, sparked by a CME impact during the late hours of June 7th. "Wonderful purple and blue auroras spanned the sky, peaking between 2 and 2:30 a.m. MDT on June 8th," reports Alan Dyer, who captured the colors outside an old barn in Alberta, Canada:

In auroras, purple is a sign of nitrogen. While oxygen atoms produce the green glow in Dyer's image, the purple comes from molecular nitrogen ions at very high altitudes. For some reason, high-altitude nitrogen was unusually excited during thisG2-class geomagnetic storm, and many people witnessed its telltale hue.

More purple could be in the offing. A solar wind stream following in the wake of the CME has kept Earth's magnetic field unsettled two full days after the CME's impact. Solar wind speeds are now greater than 500 km/s, prompting NOAA forecasters to boost the odds of a polar geomagnetic storm on June 9th to 50%. Aurora alerts:text, voice

Realtime Aurora Photo Gallery



Solar wind
speed: 477.7 km/sec
density: 26.4 protons/cm3

CME IMPACT: As predicted, a CME hit Earth's magnetic field on June 7th. The glancing blow at approximately 16:30 UT could spark minor geomagnetic storms in the hours ahead. High-latitude sky watchers should be alert for auroras.

cme 6-7-14



Solar wind
speed: 423.4 km/sec
density: 11.0 protons/cm3

The CME that arrived today left the sun on June 4th. It was propelled into space by a magnetic filament erupting from the sun's SE limb.



Solar wind
speed: 343.2 km/sec
density: 5.7 protons/cm3

GROWING SUNSPOTS: Straddling the sun's equator, a pair of sunspots is rapidly emerging today. Two days ago, they were nearly invisible; now their dark cores are as large as Earth.

The southern sunspot, AR2080, has developed a 'beta-gamma' magnetic field that harbors energy for significant eruptions. It is now crackling with C-class flares; these flares are relatively weak but they could herald something stronger. NOAA forecasters have boosted the odds of M-flares to 10%, a figure that is likely to increase in the days ahead.



Solar wind
speed: 365.5 km/sec
density: 7.0 protons/cm3


GIANT FILAMENT ERUPTS, PRODUCES CME: A giant filament of solar magnetism, which amateur astronomers have been monitoring for more than a week, erupted yesterday

Astronomers had been bracing for the possibility that the filament would collapse, causing a Hyder flare when it landed on the solar surface. Instead, it erupted and hurled part of itself into space. The Solar and Heliospheric Observatory recorded a CME emerging from the blast site: CME movie.

The CME billowed away from the sun at 520 km/s (1.2 million mph). Although that sounds fast, it is actually slower than the average CME. This makes sense because the explosion itself was very slow. This tiime-lapse movie is nearly 24 hours long.

Coronagraph images show that the explosion was not squarely Earth-directed. Most of the CME will sail south of the sun-Earth line. Nevertheless, there could be a glancing blow on or about June 7th, possibly sparking polar geomagnetic storms.



Solar wind
speed: 347.9 km/sec
density: 7.4 protons/cm3

GIANT SOLAR FILAMENT: An enormous filament of magnetism is stretching across the sun's equator today. In this image taken by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory during the early hours of June 4th, arrows trace the structure across more than 500,000 km of solar terrain:



The filament is filled with dark plasma held aloft by magnetic forces. Such filaments are often unstable. If this one collapses and hits the stellar surface below, the result could be a "Hyder flare"--a type of solar flare that occurs without the aid of a sunspot. Solar flare alerts: text, voice

Because the filament is so long, it makes an easy target for backyard solar telescopes. Take a look at this panoramic snapshot taken by Sergio Castillo of Inglewood, CA, on June 3rd. "The sun is coming to life with this giant filament snaking across the solar surface," he says. "It's a beautiful view."



Solar wind
speed: 340.1 km/sec
density: 8.3 protons/cm3

NOT-SO-QUIET SUN: Breaking a days-long spell of quiet, sunspot AR2077 unleashed an M1-class solar flare this morning. The impulsive flare, which peaked at 04:09 UT on June 3rd, probably did not hurl a CME toward Earth. Stay tuned for updates as more data are analyzed. 



COMET PANSTARRS K1: On August 27, 2014, Comet C/2012 K1 PanSTARRS will buzz Earth's orbit only 0.05 AU away. Unfortunately for sky watchers, Earth won't be there. Our planet will be on the other side of the sun during PanSTARRS's close approach. A better time to photograph the comet is now. UK astronomerDamian Peach took this picture from his backyard observatory in Selsey, West Sussex, on May 31st:

His picture highlights the comet's vivid green atmosphere or "coma". The verdant hue is a sign of diatomic carbon and cyanogen, two gases that grow green when illuminated by sunligght in the near-vacuum of space.

"The comet's long ion tail is still rather faint," notes Peach. To pull it out of the starry background required a 30 minute exposure with his 4-inch telecope.

PanSTARRS K1 is currently moving through Ursa Major, shining about as brightly as an 8th magnitude star. This makes it an easy target for mid-sized backyard telescopes, albeit invisible to the naked eye. Amateur astronomers who wish to image the comet can find orbital elements and an ephemeris here.

If Earth and the comet were on the same side of the sun in August, the view would be spectacular. Disappointment will be mitigated, only a little, by images from the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory. SOHO's C3 coronagraph will track the comet as it passes behind the sun (from our point of view) from August 2nd until August 16th.


Solar wind
speed: 296.1 km/sec
density: 2.8 protons/cm3

QUIET WITH A SLIGHT CHANCE OF FLARES: Solar activity is low. New sunspot 2077 has developed an unstable 'beta-gamma' magnetic field, prompting NOAA forecasters to boost the odds of an M-flare today to 5%. However, that's still a 95% chance of nothing happening. Unless a filament collapses (see below), the quiet should continue.



Solar wind
speed: 294.0 km/sec
density: 1.9 protons/cm3

LOOK WEST AT SUNSET: For the third night in a row, there's something extra in the sunset: Jupiter and the crescent Moon. Separated by less than 10o, the two bright bodies pop out of the twilight as soon as the sun goes down. Take a look! [photo gallery]

SOLAR ACTIVITY: With no sunspots actively flaring, the face of the sun is quiet. The edge of the sun is another matter. Amateur astronomers around the world are monitoring a bushy filament of plasma seething over the sun's southeastern limb. Sergio Castillo sends this picture from his backyard observatory in Inglewood, California:

sun prominance

This gigantic prominence spreading its plasma material and gases on the limb makes an excellent target for imaging," says Castillo.

The hot gas in this prominence is held aloft by solar magnetic fields. If those fields become unstable the structure could collapse, causing an explosion when it hits the stellar surface below. This kind of explosion, which occurs without the aid of a sunspot, is called a "Hyder flare."

Readers with backyard solar telescopes are encouraged to monitor the limb for developments. 



On June 1, 2014 there were 1483 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Recent & Upcoming Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
2014 KC45
May 28
0.2 LD
6 m
2014 KF22
May 28
2.7 LD
22 m
2014 KF46
May 29
1.6 LD
22 m
2014 KQ75
Jun 1
3 LD
38 m
2014 KH39
Jun 3
1.1 LD
27 m
2014 KQ84
Jun 5
8.6 LD
20 m
2014 HQ124
Jun 8
3.3 LD
650 m
2011 PU1
Jul 18
7.6 LD
43 m
2002 JN97
Aug 2
61.4 LD
2.0 km
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.