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TOTAL ECLIPSE OF THE MOON: On Saturday morning, April 4th, sky watchers in the USA can see a brief but beautiful total eclipse of the Moon. The event will also be visible from Mexico, western Canada, across the entire Pacific Ocean, Australia, Indonesia, and elsewhere. View an animated eclipse map from ShadowAndSubstance.com.
BIG SOLAR PROMINENCES: The face of the sun is quiet; no sunspots are flaring. The edge of the sun is a different matter. Amateur astronomers are monitoring a network of huge prominences rising above the sun's western limb. Bill Hrudey sends this picture from the Cayman Islands:
"I used a Lunt solar telescope to photograph these interesting prominences," says Hrudey.
Prominences are massive plumes of hot plasma held above the surface of the sun by magnetic force fields. Frequently, these magnetic fields become unstable and erupt, hurling billions of tons of hot gas into space. Got a solar telescope? Monitoring is encouraged.
Space Weather Photo Gallery
FORBUSH DECREASE: For the second time in two weeks, a Forbush Decrease is underway. In other words, the number of cosmic rays around Earth is down. Note the sudden drop in counts on April 1st in these data from the neutron monitor in Oulu, Finland:
Forbush decreases happen when CMEs sweep past Earth and push aside cosmic rays that normally surround our planet. A CME that hit Earth on March 17th, St. Patrick's Day, triggered the strongest geomagnetic storm of the current solar cycle. The corresponding Forbush Decrease lasted for days. The Forbush Decrease of April 1st probably won't be as deep or long-lasting. It was caused by a minor interplanetary shock wave that swept past Earth on March 31st; the shock wave's impact was weak and did not even spark a geomagnetic storm. Nevertheless, it did cause a reduction in cosmic rays.
To investigate the Forbush Decrease, later today Spaceweather.com and the students of Earth to Sky Calculus will launch a "Space Weather Buoy" (suborbital helium balloon) with 4 radiation sensors. We will see if radiation levels in the stratosphere are tracking the ground-based neutron monitor counts. The balloon flight will also probe the effect of the Forbush Decrease at aviation altitudes. Stay tuned.
SOLAR WIND STREAMS--HITS AND MISSES: A solar wind stream expected to hit Earth on March 29-30 has apparently missed. It likely sailed south of our planet. The good news for sky watchers is, another one is on the way. It is flowing from this gaping coronal hole on the sun:
Image credit: Solar Dynamics Observatory
Coronal holes are places in the sun's atmosphere where the magnetic field opens up and allows solar wind to escape. In the extreme UV image, above, curved lines trace the sun's magnetic field; arrows indicate the flow of gaseous material (solar wind) out of the deep-purple coronal hole.
Because this coronal hole crosses the sun's equator, the solar wind it spews is likely to hit Earth squarely--no misses, this time. ETA: April 2nd or 3rd. Aurora alerts: text, voice
Aurora Photo Gallery
Eclipse Photo Gallery
Comet Photo Gallery
Every night, a network
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 Apr. 1, 2015, the network reported 50 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]
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
all the time.
April 1, 2015 there were 1569
potentially hazardous asteroids.
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.
official U.S. government space weather bureau
first place to look for information about sundogs,
pillars, rainbows and related phenomena.
call it a "Hubble for the sun." SDO
is the most advanced solar observatory ever.
views of the sun from NASA's Solar and Terrestrial
and archival images of the Sun from SOHO.
the NOAA Space Environment Center
underlying science of space weather