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New Comet Lovejoy video from SDO/SOHO Picture of the Week

December 21, 2011 Leave a comment



Steele Hill, NASA Goddard’s herald of all things heliospheric, just posted his latest  release of imagery, courtesy of NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) and the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO). Steele creates these images and videos for display in science museums and other public places. The video and image in this post combined solar imagery from both SDO and SOHO of the rounding of the sun by Comet Lovejoy last week. Steele’s  descriptive text (below) explains the details.

And by the way, Steele and his colleagues have just surpassed their 500th solar “Picture of the Week.” It took 10 years. Congratulations!

“Comet Lovejoy came into view on Dec. 14 as a bright, white streak, skimmed across the Sun’s edge about 140,000 km above the surface late Dec. 15 and early Dec. 16, 2011, furiously brightening and vaporizing as it approached the Sun. It exited our field of view on Dec. 18. It was the brightest sun-grazing comet that SOHO had ever seen, with a nucleus about twice as wide as a football field. It unexpectedly survived the pass and cruised out from behind the Sun some hours later. Comets are ancient balls of dust and ice.

“In this still and movie, we combine views from SOHO’s two different coronagraphs (which block out the Sun) with solar Dynamics Observatory’s view of the Sun itself.  Note how the tail of the comet always turns away from the Sun due to the forces of the solar wind.”






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OH AND DID I MENTION? All opinions and opinionlike objects in this blog are mine alone and NOT those of NASA or Goddard Space Flight Center. And while we’re at it, links to websites posted on this blog do not imply endorsement of those websites by NASA.

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Close call: Earth spared from major geomagnetic storm?

February 17, 2011 Leave a comment

image of flares on sun

After reading all about the impending geomagnetic storm, I was about to yell “Duck!” when the latest reports started dribbling in. Earlier this week, solar flares sent coronal mass ejections (CMEs) hurtling toward Earth that could have fueled a major geomagnetic storms, lighting up the sky with auroras and interfering with satellite and radio communications.

Right now, it seems the event won’t be as intense as initially expected. But isn’t this the very reason why NASA has an extensive fleet of sun-watching spacecraft? We can’t forecast these events as well as we’d like to. maybe someday we will.

Most of these reports come from the wonderful Facebook page, The Sun Today: Solar Facts and Space Weather, involving Goddard scientists.



Sunday Feb. 13, 1:03 pm

BANG!! The Sun just fired off a M6.6 solar flare at 17:36 UT from sunspot group AR11158. Here is a composite image from SDO/AIA in the 94, 335 and 193 Angstrom wavelengths with the bright flare visible near the center of the solar disk. The biggest solar flare yet for 2011!

bang!



Feb. 14, 9:59 am

Yes as Greg stated the CME will most likely hit Earth on Tuesday (Feb. 15). The preliminary data from SOHO and STEREO show that the event is not particularly bright though it is fast. Aurora watchers at high latitudes should keep alert. The region that produced the event continues to grow in complexity indicating a good chance for more activity. (There have been several more C flares.


stereoshot_feb15



Tuesday, Feb 15, 11:22 am

Here is a image from the STEREO Behind spacecraft’s COR2 Coronagraph showing the CME leaving the Sun shortly after the X2.2 flare and coronal wave. The image is from 3:24UT, about 1 hour after the flare and wave. This data is from the beacon or STEREO space weather data so it is not full quality but it is available much sooner than the science data. We expect to have data from the SOHO LASCO coronagraphs soon.



Wednesday, Feb 16, 1:15 pm

CMEs are on their way! Over the past 3 days the Sun released 3 CMEs directed Earthward. The 1st from Feb. 13 is traveling ~400 km/s, the 2nd from Feb. 14 is traveling ~340 km/s and the 3rd from Feb. 15 is traveling ~800 km/s. We expect to see Aurora from these events starting tonight and tomorrow. High latitude Aurora watchers should keep an eye out.



aurora donut

Dick, Here is the aurora forecast for tonight along with a map. “Auroral activity will be active. Weather permitting, active auroral displays will be visible overhead from Inuvik, Yellowknife, Rankin and Igaluit to Juneau, Edmonton, Winnipeg and Sept-Iles, and visible low on the horizon from Vancouver, Great Falls, Pierre, Madison, Lansing, Ottawa, Portland and St. Johns AND as far south as Anchorage, Alaska, Trondheim, Norway and Igarka, Russia, and visible low on the horizon in Montreal, Stockholm, Helsinki and Yakutsk, Russia.” I will respond to your question about the Dec. 13 event tomorrow. I hope you are able to see some aurora. -Alex



Thursday, Feb. 17: TODAY

AURORA WATCH:

NOAA has slightly downgraded the chance of geomagnetic activity on Feb. 17th to 35%. Those are still good odds, however, so high-latitude sky watchers should be alert for auroras.



The Los Angeles Times said this morning. . .

Solar flare radiation expected to hit starting today: The largest solar flare in four years erupted Monday. Its radiation is expected to reach Earth today and Friday and perhaps interfere with communication systems, power grids and navigation satellites. It might also enhance the northern lights.



The AFP.com news service says. . .

WASHINGTON – A wave of charged plasma particles from a huge solar eruption has glanced off the Earth’s northern pole, lighting up auroras and disrupting some radio communications, a NASA scientist said. But the Earth appears to have escaped a widespread geomagnetic storm, with the effects confined to the northern latitudes, possibly reaching down into Norway and Canada. “There can be sporadic outages based on particular small-scale events,” said Dean Persnell, project scientist at NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory at Goddard Space Flight Center.

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OH AND DID I MENTION? All opinions and opinionlike objects in this blog are mine alone and NOT those of NASA or Goddard Space Flight Center. And while we’re at it, links to websites posted on this blog do not imply endorsement of those websites by NASA.

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Happy 15th birthday, SOHO

December 2, 2010 Leave a comment
The top 10 favorite SOHO solar images chosen by the public in 2005

The top 10 favorite SOHO solar images chosen by the public in 2005


Takes a licking, keeps on ticking — you could say that about a lot of “birds” developed at Goddard Space Flight Center. SOHO, the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory, is one of them.

On December 2, 1995, SOHO blasted into space from Cape Canaveral. The joint European Space Agency/NASA project soon began its work observing the sun. If you want to know the how, whats, and whys, please read the excellent press release by my colleague Karen Fox and the a short feature on The Sun Today website. Or browse the latest SOHO imagery of the sun.

But here are the take-homes:

  • “Fifteen years later, SOHO has revolutionized what we know about the solar atmosphere and violent solar storms produced by the sun.”
  • “SOHO has become an expert comet-hunter…”
  • “…helped create the field of near-real-time space weather reporting as we know it…”
  • “Placed into orbit around the L1 Lagrangian point between Earth and the sun, SOHO was able to observe the sun continuously without Earth ever obstructing its view.”
  • “SOHO is perhaps best known for its observations of coronal mass ejections, or CMEs.”
  • “…as of November 1, 2010, SOHO had spotted more than 1,940 [comaets.] (A contest to predict the day on which the 2,000th will be spotted is here.)”
  • “The Solar and Heliospheric Observatory or SOHO is by many accounts the granddaddy of modern solar astronomy.”

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OH AND DID I MENTION? All opinions and opinionlike objects in this blog are mine alone and NOT those of NASA or Goddard Space Flight Center. And while we’re at it, links to websites posted on this blog do not imply endorsement of those websites by NASA.

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The Sun Gets Loopy (again): Blogolicious Image of the Day

September 28, 2010 2 comments

This week the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) “Pick of the Week” offers a video clip of a massive loop of hot plasma caught by one of NASA’s twin STEREO spacecraft. Here’s a video loop of the event, compressing hours of time into a few seconds.

http://www.youtube.com/v/dLqfcHE95V0?fs=1&hl=en_US

Says the SOHO website:

The STEREO (Ahead) spacecraft watched as an eruptive prominence near the back of the Sun arched up but then headed back to the Sun’s surface over a few hours (Sept. 19, 2010). Prominence eruptions occur fairly frequently and with both STEREO spacecraft now able to see most of the Sun, we do observe more of them.



And one great prominence deserves another. Check out this whopper from back in April:

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OH AND DID I MENTION? All opinions and opinionlike objects in this blog are mine alone and NOT those of NASA or Goddard Space Flight Center. And while we’re at it, links to websites posted on this blog do not imply endorsement of those websites by NASA.

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Blogolicious image of the day: a hole in the sun

August 30, 2010 4 comments

SDO_coronal_hole_608
Here’s the latest Picture of the Week from the Solar Dynamics Observatory, courtesy of Goddard’s solar media specialist Steele Hill.

The image depicts a large-scale feature called a coronal hole. It was created from observations in the extreme ultraviolet that SDO captured August 23-25. The “hole” is an area that colder, darker, and less dense than surrounding parts of the sun’s corona, or outer atmosphere. Here, the contours of the sun’s magnetic field allow hot star stuff — the solar wind — to stream out at high speed.

Thanks to Steele’s diligent work, these Picture of the Week features — there is also one for the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) — stream out to hundreds of science and nature centers all over the country.

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OH AND DID I MENTION? All opinions and opinionlike objects in this blog are mine alone and NOT those of NASA or Goddard Space Flight Center. And while we’re at it, links to websites posted on this blog do not imply endorsement of those websites by NASA.

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Blogolicious image of the day: As the STEREO (Behind) spacecraft observed in extreme UV light, the Sun popped off no fewer than six eruptions over just two days. . .

August 23, 2010 4 comments

Here’s a dramatic short video from the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) “Pick of the Week” website. The images were actually captured by one of the twin STEREO spacecraft.

click me to watch the video!

click me to watch the video!



Here’s the detailed explanation from the Pick of the Week site:

As the STEREO (Behind) spacecraft observed in extreme UV light, the sun popped off no fewer than six eruptions over just two days (Aug. 14-15, 2010). At one point, three were occurring events at the same time. Most these were eruptive prominences in which cooler clouds of gases above the surface break away from the sun. The most powerful of these events, a coronal mass ejection, began around 6:30 UT on Aug. 15. It was harder to see from this spacecraft’s angle since it blasted out from the whiter active region in the lower center, so it had the sun as its backdrop.

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________ OH AND DID I MENTION? All opinions and opinionlike objects in this blog are mine alone and NOT those of NASA or Goddard Space Flight Center. And while we’re at it, links to websites posted on this blog do not imply endorsement of those websites by NASA.

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