|Listen to radar echoes from satellites and meteors, live on listener-supported Space Weather Radio.|
CHANCE OF STORMS: NOAA forecastesrs estimate a 65% chance of polar geomagnetic storms on August 10th when one and perhaps two CMEs are expected to hit Earth's magnetic field. The incoming clouds were propelled from the sun by a flurry of erupting magnetic filaments on Aug. 6-7. High-latitude sky watchers should be alert for auroras. Aurora alerts: text, voice.
SPACE CHASE: On August 3rd, Japan launched a robotic spacecraft, the HTV-4, to re-supply the International Space Station (ISS). Last night, Larry Sloss saw the HTV-4 in hot pursuit of the ISS in the twilight skies over Priest Lake, Idaho:
"The HTV-4 was trailing the ISS by just 3 seconds," says Sloss.
Many observers noted "HTV-4 flares" this week. Apparently sunlight is glinting off a flat surface of the spacecraft, briefly raising its luminosity to match that of the much larger ISS. Sloss saw one too: "In the image, a brief, bright flare from the HTV-4 is slightly offset from the ISS trail."
HTV-4 has an interesting payload. Among the 5.4 tons of food, spare parts, and other supplies are Kirobo, a talking robot to join the crew of the ISS, and Firestation, an experiment to study mysterious Terrestrial Gamma-ray Flashes. Docking is scheduled at approximately 4:30 AM EDT on Friday August 9th.
Turn your smartphone into a field-tested ISS tracker: Download the Simple Flybys App.
SPRITES AND JETS OVER OKLAHOMA CITY: High above Earth in the realm of meteors and noctilucent clouds, a strange form of lightning dances at the edge of space. Researchers call the bolts "sprites," and they are as beautiful as they are mysterious. Jason Ahrns, a graduate student from the University of Alaska Fairbanks, photographed a cluster of bright red sprites over Oklahoma City on August 6th. Click on the arrow to view a rare high-speed movie of the phenomenon:
"I normally study auroras," says Ahrns, "but I've become involved in sprites as a side interest." At the time of the photo, Ahrns was flying onboard a Gulfstream V operated by the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR). "We try to get off to the side of sprite-producing storms, ideally about 200 km away, and film them with a couple of Phantom cameras running at 10,000 frames per second. One of the Phantoms has a diffraction grating in front of it to capture high speed spectra, which I don't think has ever been done before."
"We've also managed to record a few sprites over a lightning mapping array so we can identify the exact lightning strike that caused the sprite," he continues. "This has also never done before, and should provide insight into what type of lightning causes sprites."
"Lately," says Ahrns, "I've begun slipping my personal camera into a spare window of the airplane, and the results have been so impressive that we're planning to make a dSLR (digital camera) a regular part of future campaigns. On August 3rd I recorded some blue jets over Oklahoma city; I believe these are the first blue jets recorded by an ordinary dSLR." More tales of sprite-chasing may be found on Ahrns' personal blog.
METEOR RADAR: The Canadian Meteor Orbit Radar (CMOR) is scanning the skies over North America for signs of meteor activity. This all-sky map produced during the early hours of August 8th shows a clustering of echoes in the constellation Perseus:
The meteors CMOR is detecting come from Comet 109P/Swift-Tuttle, source of the annual Perseid meteor shower. Earth is entering Swift-Tuttle's debris stream and Perseid activity is picking up. Forecasters expect the shower to peak on August 12-13 with as many as 100 meteors per hour. Be alert for fireballs!
Realtime Noctilucent Cloud Photo Gallery[previous years: 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011]
|Near Earth Asteroids|
On August 9, 2013 there were 1397 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Recent & Upcoming Earth-asteroid encounters:
|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.|
|Daily Sunspot Summaries|
|from the NOAA Space Environment Center|
|the underlying science of space weather|
|Space Weather Alerts|