Saturday, August 6, 2011

Solar action week culminates in aurorae over Europe and North America

First three major sunspot groups were crossing the disk simultaneously, then a barrage of coronal mass ejections moved towards Earth in a complex pattern, and finally a nice auroral storm occured last night with a show - where clear ... - from Germany to the U.K. to the U.S. and Canada: solar activity is on the rise, the drought is over! From the aurora show reports and pictures from Germany (where Kiel had the best view), the U.K. (same; more and more; same), from Minnesota in the U.S. and Canada (also a timelapse video). The solar flares and CMEs responsible were amply discussed before, like here, here, here, here, here, here and here. And the sunspots themselves were observed widely, e.g. on August 2 at sunset (same; more) or on Aug. 1, July 31 and July 30 (public event).

In the world of comets Garradd (more, more, more and mehr general reports) was widely observed passing near globular cluster Messier 15 on August 1 and 2: images of Aug. 4, Aug. 3 and 2 (more, more, more, more, more, more, more, more, more, more, more, more, more, more, more and more), Aug. 1 (more and more) July 31 (high contrast; more, more and more), July 30 (more) and July 29. • Comet 213P/van Ness has split and also displays a nice antitail: a report (earlier), more observations here and here, here, more pictures and an MPEC. • The STEREO B spacecraft has observed comet Elenin from close: more, more, more and an animation, plus an Aug. 2 ground-based image. • A 5 arc min conjunction of 2 comets, both extremely faint.

Elsewhere in the Universe Several new Kuiper Belt Objects were found in the Southern skies, including 3 potential dwarf planets, another KBO has a weird spectrum, and there is now considerable effort to find suitable KBOs for New Horizons to visit after Pluto. • A great animation shows how chaotic the orbit of Earth Trojan 2010 TK7 is; the small asteroid is also observed by amateurs (more, more) - and the Faulkes scopes are useful anyway for discoveries. • Pictures of Jupiter on August 5, the day Juno was launched to the planet, and July 31. • The young Moon on Aug. 1 in the U.S. and - with Mercury - Australia. • Currently there are two novae of 17 mag. in Messier 31. • NLCs on Aug. 2 in Germany and Aug. 1 in Norway and Germany. • And an observation of NanoSail D on July 31 in Finland.

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