Solar Flares, Geomagnetic Storms and other February Astro-ology Happenings!
NORTHERN LIGHTS: Auroras are dancing around the Arctic Circle as the leading edge of an approaching solar wind stream presses against Earth’s magnetic field. “We had a really nice display around 9 pm local time on Feb. 16th,” says Nick James, who sends this picture from Kiruna, Sweden:
The stage is set for more outbursts like James saw. Why? The interplanetary magnetic field (IMF) around Earth is tipping south, an arrangement that can open a crack in our planet’s magnetosphere. If the incoming stream of solar wind pours through that crack, voila!–bright auroras. NOAA forecasters estimate a 35% chance of geomagnetic storms on Feb. 17th.
For more information, please see SpaceWeatherLive.com
Features a special valentines day edition on February 14, 2015 @ 15:20 UTC: A solar wind stream flowing from a geoeffective middle latitude coronal hole is expected to reach Earth during the next day or so and could lead to elevated geomagnetic activity around the polar regions. Stay tuned to SolarHam.com for the latest information.
February 12, 2015 @ 14:30 UTC Solar activity during the past 24 hours was at low levels with no noteworthy Earth facing solar flares to report….A solar wind stream flowing from a large soon to be geoeffective coronal hole could reach Earth this weekend and lead to enhanced geomagnetic activity at high latitudes.
Solar Update / Geomagnetic Storm Observed: February 3, 2015 @ 13:20 UTC “….Below is an updated look at the visible solar disk on Tuesday, along with a beautiful new aurora image courtesy of Marketa Murray in Alaska. Solar activity during the past 24 hours was low. Minor C-Flares were detected around regions 2277 and newly assigned region 2280. Region 2280 continued to expand in the southeast quadrant and should be monitored. No Earth directed coronal mass ejections were observed during the past day. Stay tuned to SolarHam.com for the latest information….”
Geomagnetic Storm: February 2, 2015 @ 04:00 UTC: An expected solar wind stream flowing from a geoeffective coronal has reached Earth. Minor (G1) geomagnetic storming is being observed at high latitudes [due to an elevated solar wind stream (currently above 650 km/s)]. Sky watchers should be alert for visual aurora displays. Aurora from Fairbanks, Alaska courtesy of AlaskaAuroraCam.com.
VENUS AND MARS (from SpaceWeather.com): Venus and Mars are converging for a beautiful close encounter in the sunset sky. On Feb. 21st, the two planets will be so close together that sky watchers might lose Mars in Venus’s glare. Last night, Eliot Herman photographed the pair, still relatively far apart, over Tucson, Arizona:
SCIENCE DAILY: Astronomers discover rare planet: Kepler-432b is a dense, massive celestial body with extreme seasons. Date: February 12, 2015. Source: Heidelberg University