Friday, March 30, 2012

Raging Solar Tornado Five Times Wider Than Earth

For the first time, researchers have managed to catch a solar “tornado” — more scientifically known as solar prominences — on film. It is large enough to swallow a hundred Earths, according to National Geographic, and is one of many that could be influencing solar storms that send radiation toward Earth.

Watch the footage released at National Astronomy Meeting on Thursday:

Thursday, March 29, 2012

U.S. moving minesweepers to waters near Iran

By Barbara Starr CNN - Four Navy minesweepers will be on their way to the Persian Gulf within weeks as part of an effort to boost American military capability in the region amid rising tensions with Iran, a Navy official says.
The minesweepers will be loaded onto cargo ships leaving the United States in late April, according to the Navy official. The deployments were publicly confirmed by Adm. Jonathan Greenert, chief of naval operations, earlier this month in testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee. "We are moving four more mine sweeps to the theater," he said. "That'll make eight. We are moving airborne mine countermeasure helicopters. That'll take us to eight in theater. And ... those, working with the British mine sweeps there, which we exercise with frequently, sets us up a little bit there."

Earthquake watch: Magnitude 3.4 - UTAH

2012 March 29 17:22:06 UTC
Location: 38.982°N, 111.385°W
Depth: 6.3 km (3.9 miles)
Thursday, March 29, 2012 at 11:22:06 AM at epicenter

Also: Magnitude 2.7 - UTAH
Thursday, March 29, 2012 at 11:06:02 AM at epicenter

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

US: Debris from North Korea rocket risks casualties

March 28, 2012 - The Associated Press - A senior U.S. military official says debris from a planned North Korean rocket launch could cause casualties. Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense Peter Lavoy told a congressional hearing Wednesday that North Korea has indicated the rocket will be launched southward, but the U.S. lacks confidence about the rocket's stability and where the impact will be. He said it is probably intended to land somewhere close to the Philippines or maybe Indonesia. He said South Korea and the Japanese island of Okinawa could also be affected. North Korea says the rocket will be launched in mid-April to mark the centennial of the communist nation's founder and to put an observation satellite into space. The United States and South Korea view the launch as a cover for testing long-range missile technology.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Quake Watch: Magnitude 6.0 - Mexico

2012 March 26 18:12:54 UTC
863 km (536 miles) SSW (212°) from Acapulco, Guerrero, Mexico
Monday, March 26, 2012 at 18:12:54 UTC
Monday, March 26, 2012 at 11:12:54 AM at epicenter

SKYWATCH: Update- NASA rocket plumes

MIDNIGHT ROCKET PLUMES: On Tuesday, March 27th, between midnight and 5 am EDT, NASA plans a rapid-fire launch of five sounding rockets from the Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. The rockets will deliver a chemical tracer to the upper reaches of Earth's atmosphere, forming milky white plumes that reveal high-speed winds at the edge of space. The display should be visible to the naked eye from coastal areas between South Carolina and New Jersey.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

SKYWATCH: NASA rocket plumes will light up sky at midnight

MIDNIGHT ROCKET PLUMES: On Friday, March 23rd, between midnight and 3 am EDT, NASA plans a rapid-fire launch of five sounding rockets from the Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. The rockets will deliver a chemical tracer to the upper reaches of Earth's atmosphere, forming milky white plumes that reveal high-speed winds at the edge of space. The display should be visible to the naked eye from coastal areas between South Carolina and New Jersey.

Clintonville, Wis. residents hear mysterious booming noises

The Associated Press, March 22, 2012 - CLINTONVILLE, Wis. — Bemused curiosity is turning into worry and aggravation for families in a small Wisconsin town longing for peace and quiet after three nights of mysterious booming noises that have sent some residents into the streets — sometimes still in their pajamas. The strange disturbance sounds like distant thunder, fireworks or someone slamming a heavy door. At first, many people were amused. But after a third restless night Tuesday into Wednesday, exasperation is mounting. And some folks are considering leaving town until investigators determine the source of the racket. "My husband thought it was cool, but I don't think so. This is not a joke," said Jolene Van Beek, who awoke early Sunday to a loud boom that shook her house. "I don't know what it is, but I just want it to stop." The booming in Clintonville continued Monday and Tuesday nights and into Wednesday morning, eventually prompting Van Beek to take her three sons to her father's home, 10 minutes away, so they could get some uninterrupted sleep. There have been no reports of injury, despite some residents saying they could feel the ground roll beneath their feet. City officials say they have investigated every possible human cause. They checked water, sewer and gas lines, contacted the military about any exercises in the area, reviewed permits for mining explosives and inspected a dam next to City Hall. They even tested methane levels at the landfill in case the gas was spontaneously exploding. "People in the area are certainly frustrated," City Administrator Lisa Kuss said. The city is also investigating geological causes. Officials plan to bring in vibration-detection devices to try to determine the epicenter of any underground activity.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

5.1 mag. aftershock from initial 7.6 mag. - Mexico

2012 March 20 18:35:40 UTC
Tuesday, March 20, 2012 at 18:35:40 UTC


Magnitude 6.2 - PAPUA, INDONESIA
2012 March 20 17:56:19 UTC
Tuesday, March 20, 2012 at 17:56:19 UTC


2012 March 20 18:07:45 UTC
Tuesday, March 20, 2012 at 11:07:45 AM at epicenter

BREAKING: Magnitude 7.6 earthquake reported near Acapulco de Juarez, Mexico

SKY ALERT: Electron Storm Underway - The number of energetic electrons in Earth's outer radiation belt is significantly elevated. According to analysts at the Goddard Space Weather Lab, the enhancement is caused by the aftermath of recent geomagnetic storms mixed with a high-speed solar wind stream. "Spacecraft at GEO, MEO and other orbits passing through or in the vicinity of the Earth's outer radiation belt can be impacted," they say.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Quake Alert: Magnitude 6.4 - New Guinea

2012 March 14 21:13:11 UTC
Wednesday, March 14, 2012 at 21:13:11 UTC
Location 5.642°S, 151.025°E
Depth 47.8 km (29.7 miles)

2012 March 14 09:08:37 UTC
Wednesday, March 14, 2012 at 09:08:37 UTC

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Solar Watch: Another strong flare on its way So much for the decay of sunspot AR1429. The active region unleashed another strong flare on March 13th, an M7-class eruption that peaked around 1741 UT. A first-look image from NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory show's the flare's extreme ultraviolet flash. The blast accelerated energetic protons toward Earth and a solar radiation storm is now developing around our planet.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Solar alert: Geomagnetic storm still underway - At first, yesterday's widely-reported CME impact produced little in the way of Earth effects. Since then things have changed. The wake of the CME was actually more effective than the CME itself in stirring up geomagnetic activity, and now a moderate geomagnetic storm is underway. Jónína Óskarsdóttir sends this picture from Faskrudsfjordur, Iceland:

Sunspot photo:

photo: HUGE SUNSPOT: Active sunspot AR1429 continues to grow. It is now more than seven times wider than Earth, which makes it an easy target for backyard solar telescopes. In fact, yesterday, David Tremblay of Alto, New Mexico, saw it using no telescope at all. All he needed was a dust storm:The dust blowing from Tularosa Basin was so dense, we could observe the sun with the naked eye--and there was sunspot AR1429. Wow!" says Tremblay.
The behemoth spot has unleashed four strong flares since it emerged on March 2nd, including the X5-class eruption of March 7th. More could be in the offing. The active region has a "beta-gamma-delta" class magnetic field that harbors energy for additional X-class eruptions.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Solar Watch: Planes rerouted as massive solar storm brushes by Earth

The largest solar storm in five years -- spawned by a double whammy of flares from the sun -- has engulfed the Earth, but scientists say the planet has lucked out, largely missing the predicted dangers. The storm arrived more peacefully Thursday morning than it could have. Scientists say that could change as the storm spends the day shaking the planet's magnetic field. Airlines and power grid operators were warned of potential issues from the storm -- and some reported taking precautionary steps just in case. “We are flying alternate routes for seven flights,” Anthony Black, a spokesman for Delta Airlines, told Polar flights -- those with paths that cross over the North Pole -- can suffer from communications issues and pilots and passengers can be exposed to radiation. To avoid that, Delta switched to preplanned alternate routes for several westbound flights between U.S. cities such as Atlanta, Minneapolis and New York City and Tokyo, Hong Kong, Shanghai and Nagoya.

Read more:

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

SOLAR ALERT: Geomagnetic storm update - A CME propelled toward Earth by this morning's X5-class solar flare is expected to reach our planet on March 8th at 0625 UT (+/- 7 hr). Analysts at the Goddard Space Weather Lab, who prepared the CME's forecast track, say the impact could spark a strong-to-severe geomagnetic storm. Sky watchers at all latitudes should be alert for auroras.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Quake watch: Magnitude 3.3 - COLORADO

Magnitude 3.3
Tuesday, March 06, 2012 at 13:10:21 UTC
Tuesday, March 06, 2012 at 06:10:21 AM at epicenter
Location 37.006°N, 104.916°W
Depth 5 km (3.1 miles)

Skywatch: Converging planets - Go outside at sunset and look west. Venus and Jupiter are converging there for a 3o conjunction on March 12th and 13th. Even now, more than a week away from closest approach, the bright duo are a wonder to behold
Image taken by M. Raşid Tuğral, Mar. 5, 2012-
Venus and Jupiter are getting closer to each other each day. Today I was thinking about catching them both with Mercury however clouds didn't allow for Mercury. Any way these two were enough for me. They are like glowing lambs in the sky. I really enjoyed them tonight and also the reddish planet Mars. I used Canon EOS 450d and 18-55mm lens to catch these pics.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Skywatch: Close encounters with Mars

Today, Mars is at its closest to Earth for 2012. The Red Planet is only 101 million km away and shines about six times brighter than a 1st magnitude star. Look for it in the eastern sky at sunset. The burnt-orange color of Mars is very distinctive, especially when seen from rural areas with clear skies

SOLAR ALERT: Solar Flare Pushes Plasma Cloud Toward Earth

A large solar flare erupted from the Sun earlier today, launching a coronal mass ejection (CME) into space. This plasma 'cloud' is expected to pass Earth in 2 to 3 days, potentially causing increased nighttime auroras. No major effects on Earth are expected.
The solar flare occurred at about 05:05 CET today, and the resulting CME was detected by the Large Angle and Spectrometric Coronagraph (LASCO) instrument on board the ESA/NASA Solar & Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) mission.
The solar flare was categorised by scientists as an 'X-class' flare; these are major events that can trigger planet-wide radio blackouts and long-lasting radiation storms.
Source: SpaceRef Interactive Inc.

STRONG SOLAR ACTIVITY: Solar activity is now high. Big sunspot AR1429, which emerged on March 2nd, is crackling with strong flares. This morning brought the strongest so far--an X1-class eruption on March 5th at 0413 UT. NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory recorded the extreme ultraviolet flash:

Friday, March 2, 2012

Tornadoes reported as storms threaten South, Midwest

(CNN) -- A tornado emergency was declared in Madison County, Alabama, as a large and dangerous tornado was reported to have caused widespread damage in the city of Meridianville and at a high school, the National Weather Service said. At least two apparent tornadoes struck northeast Alabama Friday, as the powerful storm chucked golf ball-sized hail on area residents, officials said. They were the first reported twisters from a storm system that threatens the already hard-hit Midwest and South. One apparent tornado touched down in Madison Country, an emergency official said.

QUAKE WATCH: Magnitude 5.6 - ALASKA

2012 March 02 16:48:25 UTC
5.6 (Preliminary magnitude — update expected within 15 minutes)
Friday, March 02, 2012 at 06:48:25 AM at epicenter
Location 51.274°N, 178.181°E
Depth 195 km (121.2 miles) set by location program