Sunday, October 2, 2011

Best aurora of the cycle yet caused by impressive sunspot group

Solar activity is now clearly on the rise, as are space weather effects right here on Earth - and the Activity Regipn 1302 which crossed the disk in recent days (more pictures here, here and here) drove the message home: mainly with a major flare on Sep. 24 that caused a strong geomagnetic storm on Sep. 26 (also discussed here, here, here, here, here and elsewhere). And this, in turn, led to the best aurora of the current cycle, beating the brief August show: some summaries are here (incl. a crappy picture by yours truly; the aurora is the reddish glow on the right), here (more), hier (table) and hier. Further pictures, videos and reports from NRW in Germany (best pix from Bonn) and elsewhere in Germany (more, more, more and more), Austria, Norway (more, more and more), the Netherlands (more), Slovenia, Sweden, Finland, the Outer Hebrides, the U.K. (more, more) and the U.S. (more). There had been another flare on Sep. 22 (more, more and a CME series Sep. 18/9; also the 'secret lives' of flares and a timelapse aurora video from Finland.

Elsewhere in the solar system IR Keck images of Neptune and Uranus (more and more), amateur images of Jupiter of Oct. 1, Sep. 26 (also w/8" - and structure on Ganymede!) and Sep. 22, and Mars on Sep. 26. • NEOWISE has revised the statistics of NEOs (alt., ident.; coverage here, here, here, here and hier) and the history of the Chicxulub impactor (covered here, here, here, here, hier and hier); the latter's role in the dino death is still under debate, by the way. • Among comets there were a bright Kreutz, lots of structure in 45P/H-M-P's tail & Jupiter near-crash (H-M-P today), new main belt comet P/2010 R2 (La Sagra), further fragmentation in 213P/van Ness (more, more), new comet Gibbs, no LASCO sighting of damaged Elenin and a naked-eye sighting of Garradd (which did not fade afterwards); also picture of Sep.30, Sep. 26(!), Sep. 24 and Sep. 21.

Sky highlights in October - see overview articles here, hier and here - include:
  • Oct. 1-2: Mars passes Praesepe, the star cluster.

  • Oct. 8 (around 20:00 UTC): Possible outburst of the Draconids (more, more), but the predictions remain confusing - and the event coincides with Observe the Moon Night which is not a good night for meteor watching ...

  • Oct. 21-22: Peak of the Orionids; less lunar interference than with the Draconids, so worth a look.

  • Oct. 27/8: Conjunction of Moon, Venus and Mercury low in the evening, invisible in higher N latitudes.

  • Oct. 29: Jupiter in opposition with -2.9 mag.; it's awfully bright already now (closest to Earth on Oct. 27 already).
Meanwhile the supernova in M 101 has faded a full magnitude from the peak, to 10.9 mag. - and the hunt is on for Snoopy from the unsung Apollo 10 mission ...

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