(including reports
© NASA and © Spaceweather.com
and information from the Royal Astronomical Society)

 

Updated:  01 July 2016

 

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NEWS


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International Space Station news and views  


Click   here  to see the current position of the International Space Station (ISS) and the view from the spacecraft. The lower part of the webpage shows the ground track across the globe.  Click on  SNAPSHOT  when you are in an area of interest. You can navigate using the arrows in the upper-left corner. Also, you can zoom in using the vertical bar with the + and - signs.      (Contributed by Tim)

 

See the International Space Station passing overhead (from the Sunshine Coast, Queensland):  


Wednesday, 4 March, 2015:    
The ISS will appear above the west-north-western horizon at 7:21 pm - maximum elevation will be 46 degrees above the northern horizon - and will disappear into the Earth's shadow south-south-east of the zenith; visible for 6 minutes.

Thursday, 26 March, 2015:     The ISS will appear above the south-western horizon at 7:17 pm - maximum elevation will be 64 degrees above the western horizon - and will disappear in the north-north-west; visible for 3 minutes.

Friday, 27 March, 2015:     The ISS will appear above the south-south-western horizon at 6:24 pm - maximum elevation will be 47 degrees above the southern horizon - and will disappear in the east-north-east; visible for 6 minutes.

Sunday, 29 March, 2015:     The ISS will appear above the western horizon at 6:14 pm - maximum elevation will be 50 degrees above the north-western horizon - and will disappear in the north-north-east; visible for 4 minutes.

Monday, 4 May, 2015:     The ISS will appear above the north-western horizon at 6:34 pm - maximum elevation will be 70 degrees above the northern horizon - and will disappear in the north-east; visible for 3 minutes.

Thursday, 7 May, 2015:     The ISS will appear above the north-north-western horizon at 5:31 pm - maximum elevation will be 82 degrees above the north-eastern horizon (almost overhead) - and will disappear in the south-east; visible for 3 minutes.

Thursday, 28 May, 2015:     The ISS will appear above the south-western horizon at 6:09 pm - maximum elevation will be 68 degrees - and will disappear in the north-east; visible for 6 minutes.

Friday, 3 July, 2015:     The ISS will appear above the north-western horizon at 6:45 pm - maximum elevation will be 52 degrees - and will disappear in the north; visible for 2 minutes.

Monday, 6 July, 2015:     The ISS will appear above the north-western horizon at 5:42 pm - maximum elevation will be 73 degrees - and will disappear in the south-east; visible for 4 minutes.

Saturday, 25 July, 2015:     The ISS will appear above the south-south-western horizon at 6:37 pm - maximum elevation will be 43 degrees - and will disappear in the south; visible for 2 minutes.

Monday, 27 July, 2015:     The ISS will appear above the west-south-western horizon at 6:27 pm - maximum elevation will be 41 degrees - and will disappear in the north-north-east; visible for 6 minutes.

Tuesday, 28 July, 2015:     The ISS will appear above the south-western horizon at 5:34 pm - maximum elevation will be 72 degrees - and will disappear in the north-east; visible for 6 minutes.

Tuesday, 1 September, 2015:     The ISS will appear above the west-north-western horizon at 7:08 pm - maximum elevation will be 44 degrees - and will disappear in the west-south-west; visible for 3 minutes.

Wednesday, 2 September, 2015:     The ISS will appear above the north-north-western horizon at 6:16 pm - maximum elevation will be 61 degrees - and will disappear in the south-east; visible for 6 minutes.

Friday, 30 October, 2015:     The ISS will appear above the north-western horizon at 7:32 pm - maximum elevation will be 59 degrees - and will disappear in the south-south-east; visible for 5 minutes.

Saturday, 31 October, 2015:     The ISS will appear 11º above the north-north-western horizon at 6:40 pm - maximum elevation will be 51 degrees - and will disappear when 11º above the south-eastern horizon; visible for 6 minutes.

Monday, 2 November, 2015:     The ISS will appear 10º above the west-north-western horizon at 6:29 pm - maximum elevation will be 45 degrees - and will disappear when 12º above the south-south-eastern horizon; visible for 6 minutes.

Saturday, 21 November, 2015:     The ISS will appear 29º above the south-western horizon at 7:32 pm - maximum elevation will be 77º - and will disappear when 37º above the north-north-eastern horizon; visible for 3 minutes.

Sunday, 27 December, 2015:     The ISS will appear 10º above the north-western horizon at 8:26 pm - maximum elevation will be 54º - and will disappear when 10º above the south-south-eastern horizon; visible for 6 minutes.

Monday, 28 December, 2015:     The ISS will appear 11º above the north-north-western horizon at 7:33 pm - maximum elevation will be 54º - and will disappear when 11º above the south-eastern horizon; visible for 6 minutes.

Monday, 30 December, 2015:     The ISS will appear 10º above the west-north-western horizon at 7:23 pm - maximum elevation will be 43º - and will disappear when 11º above the south-south-eastern horizon; visible for 6 minutes.

Monday, 18 January, 2016:     The ISS will appear 29º above the south-western horizon at 8:28 pm - maximum elevation will be 57º - and will disappear when 57º above the west-south-western horizon; visible for 1 minute.

Tuesday, 19 January, 2016:     The ISS will appear 15º above the south-south-western horizon at 7:33 pm - maximum elevation will be 43º - and will disappear when 20º above the east-north-eastern horizon; visible for 4 minutes.

Saturday, 27 February, 2016:     The ISS will appear 11º above the north-western horizon at 7:38 pm - maximum elevation will be 70º - and will disappear when 28º above the south-south-eastern horizon; visible for 5 minutes.

Sunday, 28 February, 2016:     The ISS will appear 11º above the north-north-western horizon at 6:45 pm - maximum elevation will be 43º - and will disappear when 10º above the south-eastern horizon; visible for 6 minutes.

Tuesday, 1 March, 2016:     The ISS will appear 10º above the west-north-western horizon at 6:37 pm - maximum elevation will be 50º - and will disappear when 10º above the south-south-eastern horizon; visible for 6 minutes.

Monday, 21 March, 2016:     The ISS will appear 11º above the south-south-western horizon at 7:02 pm - maximum elevation will be 60º - and will disappear when 48º above the eastern horizon; visible for 4 minutes.

Saturday, 30 April, 2016:     The ISS will appear 11º above the north-western horizon at 6:21 pm - maximum elevation will be 74º - and will disappear when 41º above the south-eastern horizon; visible for 4 minutes.

Sunday, 22 May, 2016:     The ISS will appear 11º above the south-western horizon at 6:29 pm - maximum elevation will be 60º - and will disappear when 60º above the south-south-western horizon; visible for 3 minutes.

Wednesday, 25 May, 2016:     The ISS will appear 10º above the south-western horizon at 5:29 pm - maximum elevation will be 79º - and will disappear when 10º above the north-eastern horizon; visible for 6 minutes.

Thursday, 30 June, 2016:     The ISS will appear 27º above the west-north-western horizon at 6:31 pm - maximum elevation will be 50º - and will disappear when 43º above the southern horizon; visible for 2 minutes.

Friday, 1 July, 2016:     The ISS will appear 16º above the north-north-western horizon at 5:38 pm - maximum elevation will be 61º - and will disappear when 12º above the south-eastern horizon; visible for 5 minutes.

 

Interesting research news (latest news first):


The Australian National University has joined the Giant Magellan Telescope international consortium of research organisations. The GMT is likely to be one of the first of a small number of next-generation Extremely Large Telescopes that are expected to be built in the next 20 years. The telescope's conceptual design anticipates a moving mass of 1000 tonnes and a cylindrical observatory 65 metres high. It will be built by the participating organisations at a site in northern Chile. The primary mirror will have seven circular segments each 8.4 metres across, six of these surrounding the centrally located seventh. The total light-gathering power will be nearly seven times that of the Gemini telescopes, which are the largest ones to which Australian astronomers currently have access, and the images obtained should be ten times clearer than those taken with the Hubble Space Telescope. The GMT is expected to see first light in 2022.  GMT Home page     Australia's involvement

 

NASA's powerful infrared Spitzer Space Telescope has taken an image that rivals the Hubble Space Telescope's 'Pillars of Creation' photograph taken ten years ago of part of the Eagle Nebula. Dubbed the 'Mountains of Creation', it shows huge clouds of matter undergoing intense star formation in the region W5 in Cassiopeia. These clouds, which are ten times bigger than the Pillars, are illuminated in the infrared band, but appear as dark clouds in visible light images.  Full story

 

The Hubble Space Telescope has found a disc of blue stars orbiting around a supermassive black hole at the centre of the Andromeda Galaxy, M31. The disc is only one light year across, and contains 400 hot young stars orbiting the black hole at speeds up to 1000 kilometres per second. As the cores of galaxies typically contain old red Population I stars, this is quite an enigma.  Full story

 

The MAGIC Telescope is the largest and most advanced single instrument yet built to observe very-high-energy cosmic rays from the ground. Its parabolic mirror is made up of about a thousand 50 cm X 50 cm aluminium mirror panels, giving a total area equivalent to a single 15 metre diameter mirror. MAGIC is an acronym for 'Major Atmospheric Gamma Imaging Cherenkov'.   Full story

 

The White House has forced NASA to cancel the fourth shuttle mission to service the Hubble Space Telescope. It is now expected that the HST will be allowed to burn up during re-entry to the Earth's atmosphere sometime during this decade. The Jupiter Icy Moons Orbiter had also been a victim of budgetary cuts and is to be postponed indefinitely.  Full story

 

The Swift Gamma-ray Observatory observed its first gamma-ray burst on January 17, two months after launch.  Full story

 

Earth's most extensive global topographic map has just been completed by NASA and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency. The final section to be done included Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific islands. The resolution of the publicly available data is 90 metres at the Equator.  Full story

 

ESA's Smart-1 spacecraft reached its final operational orbit around the Moon in late February. The mission has been extended until August 2006.  Full story

 

Black holes use their intense gravitational fields to draw in nearby matter, which gives out tremendous amounts of radiation as it approaches the event horizon. The process has been found to be anything but smooth, however.  Full story

 

The European Southern Observatory now has the world's largest interferometer. It is the world's most advanced optical instrument, and consists of four Unit Telescopes with main mirrors of 8.2m diameter and four movable 1.8m diameter Auxiliary Telescopes. The telescopes can work together, to form a giant ‘interferometer’, the ESO Very Large Telescope Interferometer (VLTI). It will allow astronomers to see details up to 25 times clearer than with the individual telescopes.  Full story

 

The Chandra X-ray Observatory has discovered two huge clouds of warm-hot intergalactic matter (WHIM) around our galaxy. This may be some of the missing 'dark matter' of the universe. The clouds have a temperature of about 1 million degrees K, and contain ions of carbon, nitrogen, oxygen and neon.  Full story

 

Images from space of the December 26, 2004 tsunami are available  here,  here  and  here.

 

The Rosetta space vehicle launched last March by the European Space Agency (ESA) will have four planetary intercepts before it heads off to Comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko, which it will reach in 2014.  Full story

 

The newly-discovered planetoid Sedna, 1700 km across, is the reddest object in the Solar System except for Mars. It is the furthest object in the Solar System except for comets, and takes 10 500 years to circle the Sun once. Should we call it a planet or is it too small?  More information about Sedna

 

The ESA solar spacecraft Ulysses has passed through two, and possibly three comet tails.  Full story

 

The Chandra X-ray Observatory has made the first clear detection of x-rays from Saturn, and has also revealed new information about the atmosphere of Saturn's largest moon, Titan.   Full story

 

NASA's Genesis spacecraft completed its collection of solar wind particles last April and is now on its way back to Earth. The samples were placed into a sealed container which will be released into our atmosphere on September 8, hopefully parachuting to Earth over Utah. Helicopter pilots are being trained to snag the return capsule in mid-air.   Full story

 

The Hubble Space Telescope has provided the deepest portrait of the visible universe ever taken, with a photograph whose exposure was one million seconds long (over 11.5 days!). It shows the faintest and most distant galaxies (in time as well as distance), some of the faintest possibly being the first galaxies to emerge after the 'big bang'. Hubble's Ultra Deep Field (HUDF) is in the southern constellation Fornax. In ground-based images, the region of the HUDF is largely empty, but the Hubble Telescope has revealed 10 000 galaxies there, in an area of sky only one hundredth the area of the Full Moon.  Full story

 

 

Latest Astronomical Headlines from the IAU (International Astronomical Union):      Click  here.

 

 

 

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Dateline -  29 June 2016 -  Green flash on Mars

You've heard of green flashes above the setting sun. This week an astrophotographer in Sweden spotted a green flash on Mars Click  here  for pictures and an explanation of this unusual phenomenon.



Dateline -  2 June 2016 -  Small asteroid explodes over Arizona

During the early hours of June 2, a 3-metre wide asteroid struck Earth's atmosphere over Arizona.  The resulting explosion shook the ground and blinded cameras with a flash of light ten times brighter than the full Moon. Meteorite hunters are now scouring the landscape north of Tucson for fragments of the space rock.  Click  here  for more information and updates on this developing story.

 

Dateline -  21 May 2016 -  7 pm Sky Show

Tonight, the full Moon gets together with Mars and Saturn to form a bright triangle in the constellation Scorpius. If we include the red supergiant star Antares just to the right, the triangle becomes a quadrilateral. The beautiful encounter is visible around the world, and happens just one week before Mars makes its closest approach to Earth in more than a decade.  Click  here  for observing tips and more information.  If you have a low eastern horizon, you can see this event from about 6:25 pm, and then watch the International Space Station pass high in the south at about 6:30 pm (see above).

 

Dateline -  20 May 2016 -  New ringed exoplanet discovered

A planet with a ring system like Saturn (but 200 times larger) was reported in the January 2016 Scientific American. 1SWASP J140747.93-394542.6 (often abbreviated to 1SWASP J140747 or J1407) is a star similar to our Sun located in the constellation of Centaurus at a distance of about 420 light-years from Earth. A very young star, its age is estimated to be 16 million years,and its mass is about 90% that of the Sun. The star has an apparent magnitude of 12.3 and requires a telescope to be seen. The star's name comes from the SuperWASP (Wide Angle Search for Planets) program and the star's Right Ascension and Declination coordinates.  Click  here  for the full story.    (Contributed by Tim) 

 

Dateline -  18 May 2016 -  NASA'S giant space balloon visible from Australia

On May 17, NASA successfully launched a gigantic helium balloon from Wanaka, New Zealand, on a 100+ day mission to the stratosphere. The 19 million cubic foot behemoth is now floating over the Great Australian Bight, as part of its mission to circumnavigate the southern hemisphere.  Sky watchers near the flight path can see the "space balloon" with the unaided eye and track it with backyard telescopes.  Click  here  to find out where it is and watch it. r observing tips and more information about the balloon's fascinating payload.

 

Dateline -  5 May 2016 -  "Cosmic Eye" video

"Cosmic Eye" is a three-minute video that zooms from a woman's face out to one billion light-years from Earth, and then back to subatomic particles. It was put together by Danail Obreschkow, an astrophysicist at the University of Western Australia.  Click here to watch it.     (Contributed by Jenny)

 

Dateline -  2 May 2016 -  Negative magnetic fields spark aurorae

For the past three days Earth has been passing through a region of interplanetary space filled with negative-polarity magnetic fields. This has caused intermittent geomagnetic storms and beautiful auroras around both poles. Click  here  for pictures and more information about this phenomenon.

 

Dateline -  2 May 2016 -  'Space lightning' sighted over the Caribbean

The Sprite season is definitely underway. Only a few days after a widespread display appeared over Texas, more sprites have popped up near Puerto Rico. This time the exotic forms of upper atmospheric electricity were sighted dancing above the sea instead of land.  Learn more about land and sea sprites  here ..

 

Dateline -  27 April 2016 - Cassini explores the depths of a methane sea on Titan

A pioneering oceanographic study of one of Saturn's moon's seas gives a clearer picture of its composition and topography. Click  here  for full story.    (Contributed by Tim)



Dateline -  21 April 2016 -  Lyrid meteors versus the Full Moon

The Earth is passing through a stream of debris from Comet Thatcher, source of the annual Lyrid meteor shower.  Unfortunately, the shower's peak coincides with tonight's Full Moon.  Will we see any Lyrids through the glare?  It's possible. NASA cameras have captured a number of Lyrid fireballs over the USA, easy to see in bright moonlight.  Click  here  for more information.
 


Dateline -  18 April 2016 -  Big sunspot erupts

Surprise! Quiet sunspot AR2529 isn't so quiet, after all. The heart-shaped active region erupted on April 18 (10:39 am our time), producing a strong M6.7-class solar flare and shortwave radio blackouts around the Pacific.   Click  here  for more information.

 

Dateline -  10 April 2016 -  Giant spot on the Sun

The Sun's headlong plunge into solar minimum has been interrupted by the surprise emergence of a big sunspot. Wide enough to swallow Earth with room to spare, AR2529 doubled in size over the weekend. The behemoth is now being photographed by amateur astronomers around the world and closely monitored by NASA spacecraft.  Click  here  for more information.



Dateline -  1 April 2016 -  A 360-degree panorama of the Martian landscape from the rover Curiosity

This panorama is interactive - using the arrows at upper left, you can pan around the spectacular landscape with its rocks, sand dunes and Mount Sharp in the background, or tilt down to examine the rover itself. It's like standing on Mars on top of Curiosity, and looking around. Click  here  for the view.    (Contributed by Sean)

 

Dateline -  25 March 2016 -  Hole in the Sun's atmosphere

A canyon-shaped hole in the sun's atmosphere has opened up and it is spewing solar wind toward Earth. Estimated time of arrival: March 27-28.  Arctic sky watchers should be alert for a springtime display of auroras.  Click  here  for more information.

 

Dateline -  25 March 2016 -  New radar images of Earth-buzzing comet

Earlier this week, comet fragment P/2016 BA14 made an unusually-close approach to Earth. Using a radar in the Mojave Desert, NASA researchers pinged the comet as it passed by, revealing an icy nucleus that looks like a brick - or a pear - depending on your point of view. See for yourself  on today's edition of  Spaceweather .

 

Dateline -  17 March 2016 -  Green comet approaches Earth

There's no danger of a collision.  However, a small green comet named 252P/LINEAR is about to make one of the closest approaches to Earth of any comet in modern times, passing just 5.4 million kilometres from our planet on March 21. Also, the comet appears to have company - a possible fragment of 252P/LINEAR will fly past just one day later. A weak meteor shower could follow the double flyby near the end of March.  This comet is well-placed for Australian observers, being currently in the far-southern sky. Tonight it will be less than a handspan above the South Celestial Pole at 7 pm and will be visible all night. If you can't find it because of bright moonlight, note where it should be with respect to the constellations and then wait for the Moon to set at 1 am. By that time the comet will have rotated to be at about the same altitude above the southern horizon as the Pole itself, but nearly a handspan to its right. Located in the constellation Mensa, it is estimated to be magnitude 6 in brightness, and therefore should be visible through binoculars or a small telescope.

The comet is moving rapidly across the sky, and will be very close to the South Celestial Pole on Sunday, March 20. By Tuesday, March 22, it will be just underneath the star Atria in Triangulum Australe, and the best viewing time will be after 11 pm. By March 25, 252P/LINEAR will be in the tail of Scorpius, and best seen after midnight. By March 29, it will be about a third of a handspan below Saturn, heading north. Bright moonlight will interfere with all observations. Click  here  for more information.

 

Dateline -  9 March 2016 -  Photographs of yesterday's total eclipse of the Sun

Yesterday, the New Moon blocked out the Sun, producing a magnificent total eclipse over Indonesia and the northern Pacific Ocean.  Click  here  for some photographs of the eclipse from unique vantage points - including the window of an Alaskan Airlines flight that diverted into the path of totality.  Also notable are satellite movies of the Moon's cool shadow sweeping across the Pacific.
 

full coverage.
Dateline -  29 February 2016 -  Spherical camera at the edge of space

On February 27, Spaceweather.com and the students of Earth to Sky Calculus launched a space weather balloon to monitor increasing levels of cosmic rays in the stratosphere.  The payload carried something new: a spherical camera.  Click  here  to view the first interactive 3D images of the edge of space.

 

Dateline -  27 February 2016 -  How the rover Spirit travelled to Mars and landed safely

This is a very cool video!!  Click here .    (Contributed by Tim)

 

Dateline -  16 February 2016 -  Geomagnetic storm in progress

Earth is entering a stream of high-speed solar wind, and this will cause G1-class geomagnetic storms on February 18. This is not the CME that has been expected for the last couple of days. Instead, the solar wind is flowing from a coronal hole on the Sun.  Click  here  for photos and more information.

 

Dateline -  27 January 2016 -  Mars rover Opportunity celebrates 12 years exploring Mars

NASA's Mars rover, Opportunity just celebrated its 12th anniversary on Mars—a mission that was originally meant to last just 90 days. Although recently eclipsed in the news by its bigger brother Curiosity, Opportunity is still going strong and making valuable scientific discoveries. Launched into space in 2003, Opportunity bounced to a hole-in-one landing in a small crater on Mars' Meridiani Planum on January 25, 2004. It has since spent 4270 Martian days, or sols, on the surface, slowly moving from target to target, exploring craters, meteorites, unusual rock formations, and finding evidence of past water activity. Over the past 144 months, Opportunity has taken more than 200 000 images, and driven a total of 26.50 miles (42.65 kilometres) across Mars — not bad for a mission designed to last only three months.   more.    (Contributed by Mark) 

 

Dateline -  27 January 2016 -  Cosmic rays in the atmosphere

Newly-released measurements by high-altitude balloons show that cosmic rays in Earth's atmosphere are intensifying.  The ongoing increase, which has been tracked since early 2015, will likely accelerate in the months and years ahead as the solar cycle swings away from Solar Max. This result is of interest to everyone from mountain climbers and air travellers to operators of high-altitude drones. Visit  Spaceweather  for more information.

 

Dateline -  27 January 2016 -  A morning sky show

The five brightest planets in the solar system have lined up in the morning sky for a naked-eye display of rare beauty.  Towards the end of January and through February, there will be a grand alignment of all the naked-eye planets in the pre-dawn sky. To a person observing them at 4 am, the five planets are all strung out like beads on a string. Firstly, the largest and second-brightest planet, Jupiter is high in the sky, about a handspan north-west of the zenith (the point in the sky directly overhead). Two and a half handspans to its right (east) and past the star Spica, we can see the Moon near Last Quarter. Half a handspan further east, is the red planet Mars. One and a half handspans further east is the cream-coloured ringed planet, Saturn. About the same distance further east is Venus, much brighter than any of the others. Less than half a handspan further east is Mercury. Pluto is right next to Mercury in our view from Earth, but is too faint to see without a telescope. During the month, the planets will maintain their relationships with each other, but as seen from Earth they will become more strung out as the weeks go by.

The Moon of course moves faster around the sky as we see it, and will be close to Jupiter on January 28. During the following week it will hop from planet to planet, being close to Mercury on February 7. This process will repeat between February 24 and March 8. Visit  Spaceweather  for dates and sky maps..

 

Dateline -  20 January 2016 - A new ninth planet beyond Pluto ? 

Today, planetary scientists from Caltech announced intriguing new evidence for a Neptune-sized planet orbiting the sun beyond Pluto.  The planet itself has not yet been seen, but its gravitational influence on other objects in the outer solar system may lead to its discovery. Visit  Spaceweather  for more information.

 

Dateline -  17 January 2016 - Comet Catalina approaches Earth 

Tomorrow morning, Comet Catalina (C/2013 US10) is making its closest approach to Earth, only 108 million kilometres away. The beautiful green comet is only barely visible to the unaided eye, but it is an easy target for backyard telescopes and digital cameras as it passes through the tail of the Great Bear (Ursa Major). It is poorly placed for observers in southern Queensland, being at a maximum elevation above the northern horizon of less than seven degrees at 5:11 am. Unfortunately, at that time the Sun is just on the point of rising. To see the comet, you need a completely dark sky, so you will need to look for it with binoculars at least an hour before sunrise. At 4 am the comet will be only 4.5 degrees above the horizon, and about ten degrees east of due north. As it is moving to the north, the comet will be below the horizon for local observers within a few days. It will pass by Polaris (the northern Pole Star) at the end of this month, and will then head through the constellations of Camelopardalis (the Giraffe) in February, and Perseus in March. It will be close to the bright star Capella on May 28, when it will be at magnitude 14. Comet Catalina is making a one-time visit to the inner Solar System, and will never return. Visit  Spaceweather  for photos and finder charts.

 

Dateline -  3 January 2016 - Quadrantids meteor shower 

Earth is about to pass through a narrow stream of debris from shattered comet 2003 EH1, source of the annual Quadrantids meteor shower. Forecasters expect the shower to peak on Monday morning, January 5 at about 6 pm. The timing favours observers in North America who could see dozens of meteors per hour flowing from a radiant near the North Star. Visit  Spaceweather  for more information.

 

Dateline -  3 January 2016 - Geomagnetic storm possible on January 3-5 

NOAA analysts say a CME (coronal mass ejection) is heading toward Earth and could deliver a glancing blow to our planet's magnetic field during the next 24 hours. The impact is expected to spark minor to moderate geomagnetic storms on January 3 to 5.  Aurora alerts are available from Spaceweather .

 

Dateline -  23 December 2015 -  New sunspot is growing rapidly

A new sunspot (AR2473) is growing rapidly south of the sun's equator, more than quadrupling in size in the past 24 hours. Crackling with M-class solar flares, the sunspot has already caused several minor shortwave radio blackouts, mainly in the Earth's southern hemisphere. More flares and radio blackouts are in the offing as the growing sunspot turns toward Earth. Visit  Spaceweather  for more information

 

Dateline -  13 December 2015 -  Geminid Meteor Shower peaks

The annual Geminid meteor shower peaks tonight, December 14-15, as Earth passes through a stream of gravelly debris from 'rock comet'  3200 Phaethon. Dark-sky observers in both hemispheres could see as many as 120 meteors per hour during the dark hours between local midnight and sunrise on December 15. Last night, December 13-14, NASA's all-sky meteor network detected 15 Geminid fireballs over the USA. That number will surely increase tonight when the shower peaks. Visit  Spaceweather  for more information.

 

Dateline -  13 December 2015 -  Magnetic storm on a comet

Earth isn't the only place with geomagnetic storms. Comets can have them, too. Such a storm appears to be underway in the sinuous blue ion tail of Comet Catalina (C/2013 US10).  Observers with backyard telescopes are monitoring the event with photos highlighted  here .

 

Dateline -  9 December 2015 -  Follow the last Moon men of Apollo 17 on their incredible journey

The longest, and last Apollo moon mission took off on its incredible journey nearly 43 years ago, and you can follow every minute of it, see rarely displayed photos, and hear the raw audios on a remarkable website. Click  here  to access an introductory page, where a  remarkable real-time interactive website on Apollo 17  can be found.

 

Dateline -  2 December 2015 -  Interplanetary spacecraft to buzz Earth today 

Japan's Hayabasa 2 spacecraft, on a six year mission to catch and sample an asteroid, will fly past Earth on December 3. Earth's gravity will slingshot the spacecraft toward its target, the asteroid 162173 Ryugu, which Hayabasa 2 is expected to reach in July 2018. After the spacecraft reaches Ryugu, it will orbit the asteroid for a year and a half. During that time, Hayabasa 2 will deploy four landers and drop a copper impactor to blow a hole in the asteroid's surface. Hayabasa 2 itself will briefly touch down on the asteroid at least once to collect samples excavated by the impactor. In December 2019, the spacecraft will leave the asteroid and use its ion engines to return to Earth, carrying precious samples of Ryugu. Ambitious? Yes. But if Hayabasa 2 completes even a fraction if its mission, it will be a success.

The spacecraft is small (mass: 590 kg, dimensions: 2 x 1.6 x 1.25 metres), so when it flies by Earth it will not be visible to the unaided eye. Its brightness estimates at closest approach vary from magnitude 11 to 13.

 

Dateline -  19 November 2015 -  The Space Doctor's Big Idea 

Einstein's Theory of General Relativity is 100 years old this year. If you don't know what it's about (and how it helps your mobile phone to know where it is), click  here  and let the Space Doctor explain it to you in everyday language.   (Contributed by Sean)

 

Dateline -  5 November 2015 -  Incoming coronal mass ejection from Sun 

Sunspot AR2443 erupted yesterday, producing a CME that could deliver a glancing blow to Earth's magnetic field on November 7. G1-class geomagnetic storms and high-latitude aurorae are possible when the CME arrives this weekend.  Visit  Spaceweather  for more information.

 

Dateline -  5 November 2015 -  Taurid fireballs 

The annual Taurid meteor shower is underway - and it is unusually good.  Observers around the world are reporting bright fireballs in the night sky as Earth ploughs through a swarm of gravelly debris from parent Comet Encke.  Forecasters say the display could continue until November 11.  Visit  Spaceweather  for a photograph.

Dateline -  1 November 2015 -  Geomagnetic storm warning 

A high-speed stream of solar wind is about to hit Earth's magnetic field, prompting NOAA forecasters to estimate an 85% to 90% chance of geomagnetic storms on November 2-3.  This is the same 800 km/s stream that lashed Earth's magnetic field in early October, sparking strong geomagnetic storms and bright aurorae over northern-tier US states.  Visit  Spaceweather  for more information and updates.

 

Dateline -  1 November 2015 -  Taurid fireballs

The annual Taurid meteor shower is underway and it is lighting up the midnight sky with bright fireballs. Taurid meteoroids are gravelly pieces of debris from Comet Encke that strike our planet's atmosphere at 70,000 mph.  They pose no danger to people on the ground as they disintegrate entirely high above Earth's surface every few hours.  If forecasters are correct, the display could continue until Nov. 10th.  Tune into  Space Weather Radio  for live radar echoes.

 

Dateline -  31 October 2015 -  Hubble peels back the layers of a warm Neptune-sized exoplanet 

Astronomers using NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope have discovered an immense cloud of hydrogen evaporating from a Neptune-sized planet named GJ 436b. The planet’s atmosphere is evaporating because of extreme irradiation from its parent star.     Full story     Sciencecast  Video

 

Dateline -  31 October 2015 -  Using a tablet computer in space 

The Fine Motor Skills experiment on the station is looking at how long-duration microgravity effects fine motor task performance.     Full story     Sciencecast  Video

 

Dateline -  29 October 2015 -  Halloween fireballs 

This weekend, Earth could run into a stream of gravelly debris from Comet Encke, source of the annual Taurid meteor shower.  The last time this happened, ten years ago in October 2005, the encounter sparked a two-week display of bright meteors called the 'Halloween fireballs'.  Will it happen again in 2015?  Visit  Spaceweather  for more information and observing tips.

 

Dateline -  29 October 2015 -  A band of special, young stars has been discovered near the heart of the Milky Way 

The remarkable discovery suggests that some unknown force is breathing new life into our galaxy’s centre.   (Contributed by Lee)     Full story

 

Dateline -  29 October 2015 -  Cassini has a successful close encounter with Enceladus 

NASA's Cassini Spacecraft has made a successful plunge through a plume spewing from Saturn's moon Enceladus, coming as close as 49 kilometres above its surface.     Full story and simulation

 

Dateline -  27 October 2015 -  Cassini has a close encounter with Enceladus 

NASA's Cassini Spacecraft is about to make a daring plunge through a plume spewing from Saturn's moon Enceladus.     Full story     Sciencecast  Video

 

Dateline -  25 October 2015 -  Doomed comets discovered 

The ESA/NASA Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) has discovered more than 3000 doomed comets that have passed close to the sun.     Full story     Sciencecast  Video

 

Dateline -  24 October 2015 -  Bright conjunction of planets just before dawn 

Look east before sunrise in late October for a beautiful conjunction of bright planets.     Full story     Sciencecast  Video

 

Dateline -  20 October 2015 -  Meteors from Halley's Comet 

Earth is passing through a stream of debris from Halley's Comet, source of the annual Orionid meteor shower. Forecasters expect the shower to peak tonight, October 21-22, with as many as 20 meteors per hour. No matter where you live, the best time to look is during the dark hours before sunrise on Thursday the 22nd.  Click  here  for sky maps and more information.

 

Dateline -  16 October 2015 -  Did cosmic rays kill the Martians ? 

A senior space weather analyst has calculated the odds that astronauts in the hit film 'The Martian' could have survived solar flares and cosmic rays during their travels to Mars. Learn more about the science behind the blockbuster on today's edition of  Spaceweather .  

 

Dateline -  16 October 2015 -  Huge eruption on the Sun

Earlier today, a massive and beautiful plume of plasma erupted near the sun's southeastern limb. The event could herald the approach of an active sunspot and an increase in solar activity this weekend.  Click  here  for an update.

 

Dateline -  14 October 2015 -  Hole in the Sun's atmosphere 

A gigantic hole in the sun's atmosphere has opened up and it is spewing solar wind toward Earth. Because this 'coronal hole' is unusually wide, Earth could be inside the emerging solar wind stream for days. Minor geomagnetic storms are already in progress around the Arctic Circle.  Click  here  for more information.

 

Dateline -  9 October 2015 -  Blue skies on Pluto, green skies on Earth 

Earth isn't the only planet with blue skies. Pluto has them, too. NASA's New Horizons spacecraft has just beamed back the first colour images of Pluto's atmosphere, and they look a lot like home. Click  here  for the full story.

This week, sky watchers around the Arctic Circle have seen some of the most intense green aurorae of the current solar cycle. Usually, such displays are caused by CMEs.  Not this time, though. The reason for the outbreak is explained on today's edition of  Spaceweather .

 

Dateline -  8 October 2015 -  Occultation of Venus tomorrow morning 

In the pre-dawn hours of October 9, the waning crescent Moon will occult the planet Venus. The Moon will have a phase of 15% and will rise at 2:59 am. Venus will have an angular diameter of 30 arcseconds, a phase of 40% and will rise at  3:02 am. They will be only half-a-degree apart when they rise. The Moon will gradually approach Venus, and the occultation will begin at 4:21:34 am. It will take about 46 seconds for Venus to be fully covered by the Moon's bright limb. For the next 1 hour and 25 minutes, Venus will be out of sight behind the Moon. At 5:47:07 am Venus will reappear above the dark limb. It will take 55 seconds to reappear. This will be a spectacular event to observe with binoculars, or ideally with a small telescope tracking on Venus, but will be difficult for naked-eye observers as the Sun will have risen at 5:20 am, 28 minutes before the reappearance of Venus.   (Timings contributed by Oakleigh).

 

Dateline -  7 October 2015 -  URBAN AURORAE

Last night, October 6, sky watchers around the Arctic Circle witnessed an outburst of aurorae so bright that they rivalled city lights. This could herald an even stronger display on October 7 and 8 when a "co-rotating interaction region" followed by a solar wind stream is expected to hit Earth's magnetic field.  Click  here  for more information.

 

Dateline -  4 October 2015 -  'WATER-BASED LAVA' ON PLUTO'S MOON?

New images just received from NASA's New Horizons spacecraft reveal a giant canyon on Pluto's moon Charon, as well as evidence that parts of Charon may have been resurfaced by strange 'water-based lavas'.  Click  here  for the full story.

 

Dateline -  1 October 2015 -  Daytime meteor shower

As October begins, a radar in Canada is detecting echoes from a fairly strong meteor shower.  The source appears to be debris from asteroid 2005 UD.  Don't bother looking for these meteors because they are streaking across the daytime sky, overwhelmed by the glare of the sun.  You can, however, hear their radar echoes.  Click  here  for live audio and more information.

 

Dateline -  29 September 2015 -  High solar activity

Big sunspot AR2422 is crackling with M-class solar flares and has an unstable magnetic field that harbours energy for even stronger eruptions. NOAA forecasters estimate a 25% chance of powerful X-class solar flares during the next 24 hours. Click  here  for more information and updates.

 

Dateline -  26 September 2015 -  Total lunar eclipse of supermoon visible in the Americas, Africa, Europe and western Asia (but not Australia or the western Pacific)

This weekend's full Moon is a 'supermoon', the biggest and brightest of the year, and it is about to be eclipsed. On Sunday evening, September 27, sky watchers on the other side of the world from Australia will see the Full Moon glide into the shadow of Earth, becoming a beautiful shade of red in the process. The same eclipse will be visible from South America, Europe, Africa and parts of Asia during the early hours of September 28. It will not be visible from Australia or any place in the western Pacific. The Coca-Cola Space Science Centre is broadcasting the event live  here .

For more information about the eclipse, and a big sunspot facing Earth this weekend, click  here .  The next total eclipses of the Moon visible from the Sunshine Coast will occur on 31 January 2018,  28 July 2018,  and 26 May 2021.  We will have to wait until  22 July 2028 to see a total eclipse of the Sun in Australia, but solar eclipse paths are very narrow and observers will have to travel to the path which will pass close to Wyndham in Western Australia, Davenport in the Northern Territory, Thargomindah and Hungerford in Queensland, Burke, Dubbo and Sydney in New South Wales, and Milford Sound and Queenstown in New Zealand. When the centre of the eclipse path passes directly over the University of Sydney at Ultimo, the path will be 200 kilometres wide. Only inside this path will totality be experienced.

 

Dateline -  21 September 2015 -  The search to create dark matter is on

Scientists believe they may soon be able to make dark matter (the invisible material that comprises most of the mass of the universe) inside the world’s most powerful atom-smasher, the Large Hadron Collider at the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN), near Geneva. The collider recently reopened with double the power it employed during its successful hunt for the Higgs boson. Since matter and energy are interchangeable, at these massive energies new particles can be created. More power means a greater chance of creating more massive particles – possibly dark ones. It also creates more interactions so if the creation of dark matter is extremely rare, the chances of picking it up are greater. Click  here  for more.    (Contributed by Tim) 

 

Dateline -  16 September 2015 -  Double solar eclipse

NASA's MMS spacecraft are flying around Earth in a precise formation made possible by an out-of-this-world system of GPS navigators.     Full story     Sciencecast  Video

 

Dateline -  14 September 2015 -  Double solar eclipse

Yesterday, a NASA spacecraft witnessed a rare double eclipse. The Solar Dynamics Observatory photographed Earth and the Moon passing in front of the Sun at the same time. You can see the photos in today's edition of  Spaceweather.com .

 

Dateline -  11 September 2015 -  Geomagnetic storm from Sun hits Earth

A stream of solar wind hit the Earth's magnetic field on September 11, sparking one of the strongest geomagnetic storms of the year and auroras in multiple US states. This continues a trend of relatively high geomagnetic activity that began on September 7. High-latitude sky watchers could see more auroras tonight.  Click  here  for more information and updates.

 

Dateline -  2 September 2015 -  155th Anniversary of the Carrington Event

Today is the anniversary of an historic solar storm, the Carrington Event. On September 2, 1859, a CME (coronal mass ejection) struck Earth's magnetic field with such power that telegraph stations caught fire and people in Cuba read their morning newspapers by the red light of the aurora borealis. If a similar storm struck our planet today, it might cause trillions of dollars of damage to society's high-tech infrastructure. Could the Carrington Event happen again? It almost did just a few years ago. Extreme solar storms - past, present and future - are highlighted on today's edition of  Spaceweather.com .

 

Dateline -  27 and 28 August 2015 -  Re Stephen Hawking's latest thoughts on Black Holes

Hawking is trying to discover what happens to the physical information about material passing through the event horizon of a black hole, and whether black holes provide portals to alternative universes.  This leads to the question, "What if the Big Bang was simply our entry point from another universe?"  Click  here  for more.      (Contributed by Lee)

This idea centres on how matter and energy falling into a black hole could in theory come out of a 'white hole' in another universe. In such a situation, both the black hole and the white hole are mouths of an Einstein-Rosen bridge, popularly known as a wormhole.  With that in mind, theoretical physicist Nikodem Poplawski at Indiana University conjectures that when a black hole forms from the collapse of a dying star, a universe is born at the same time from the white hole on the other side of the wormhole. Click  here  for more along these lines.     (Contributed by Matt)

Hawking's talking (I guess) about a rotating Kerr black hole with a ring-shaped singularity, which since the '60s has been the basis for ideas like white holes, worm holes, closed time-like curves, and kind-of-sort-of-maybe-hand-wave-y other universes. If black holes can be portals, do they generate the other universes, or just punch through somehow? If they generate a universe, what happens to the inhabitants of that universe once the black hole in this universe eventually evaporates due to Hawking radiation, or loses angular momentum via the ergosphere, or gains a chunk of mass, or ... ?    Maybe you start to get weird physics problems that need answers like dark matter...      (Contributed by Sean)

 

Dateline -  20 August 2015 -  More strange lightning jets photographed from the International Space Station

This month, astronauts onboard the International Space Station have witnessed exotic forms of lightning that reach up from thunderclouds near Earth's surface all the way to the edge of space. Their photographs of "sprites" and "trolls" dancing over Mexico are a must-see. These forms can been seen from Earth's surface, too. Observing tips and more information are available  here .

 

Dateline -  14 August 2015 -  Gigantic jets of lightning appear over Hurricane Hilda

A rare form of upward lightning that reaches almost to the edge of space has been observed shooting up from Hurricane Hilda as the storm approaches Hawaii. Click  here  to see the video and learn more about these 'gigantic jets'.

 

Dateline -  14 August 2015 -  Inferior conjunction of Venus

The planet Venus is turning into a wafer-thin crescent as it passes almost directly between the Earth and Sun tomorrow morning, Sunday, August 16. Photos and observing tips are available  here .

 

Dateline -  11 August 2015 -  Perseid Meteor Shower peaks tonight and tomorrow night

This week, Earth passes through a stream of debris from Comet Swift-Tuttle, source of the annual Perseid meteor shower. Forecasters say the show could be especially good because the Moon is nearly new when the shower peaks on August 12 and 13.    Full story     Sciencecast  Video

 

Dateline -  5 August 2015 -  Perseid Meteor Shower underway

One meteor shower produces more fireballs than any other - and it's underway now. Earth is entering a stream of debris from Comet Swift-Tuttle, source of the annual Perseid meteor shower. NASA all-sky cameras are detecting an increasing number of Perseid fireballs as the shower's peak approaches on August 12-13. Click  here  for updates and more information.

 

Dateline -  27 July 2015 -  A "Blue Moon" next Friday night

The second Full Moon of July is just around the corner. According to modern folklore, it is a "Blue Moon."    Full story     Sciencecast  Video

 

Dateline -  25 July 2015 -  Improved image of Pluto from the New Horizons spacecraft flyby

 

Dateline -  16 July 2015 -  First close-up of Pluto from the New Horizons spacecraft flyby

The 70 metre antenna of the Canberra Deep Space Complex at Tidbinbilla has been working all last night, recording the faint signals coming from the New Horizons spacecraft. Taking about 4.5 hours to cross the 4.88 billion kilometres distance from Pluto to Earth, the signals contain the first close-up images of Pluto and its companion Charon. Click here for the latest images. Is Mickey Mouse's dog Pluto on Pluto ? Click here to find out.

 

Dateline -  14 July 2015 -  Pluto from New Horizons

 

Dateline -  13 July 2015 -  Weather report for Pluto during the New Horizons flyby tomorrow


The above times are Australian Eastern Standard Time.

As NASA's New Horizons spacecraft prepares to buzz Pluto on July 14, space weather forecasters have released long distance predictions for the distant dwarf planet. A region of merged CMEs could be on the verge of hitting Pluto and compressing its atmosphere, but this is expected to happen well after the flyby. Meanwhile, New Horizons has just taken its best picture of the side of Pluto which will not be visible during the flyby. It will be decades before we get another look at this side of Pluto, which is dotted with mysterious dark spots.  Click here for more information.

Dateline -  10 July 2015 -  Coffee in space

Advances in the understanding of how fluids behave in low gravity is a key to an excellent cup of coffee in space.    Full story     Video

 

Dateline -  26 June 2015 -  Handprints on Hubble

As the Hubble Space Telescope celebrates its 25th anniversary, scientists are reflecting on the key role astronauts played in allowing the telescope to continue making great discoveries.    Full story     Video

 

Dateline -  22 June 2015 -  Geomagnetic storm warning

A CME (coronal mass ejection from the Sun) is heading directly for Earth, and it is expected to sweep up one or more lesser CMEs before it reaches our planet tonight and tomorrow. The combined impact is likely to spark polar geomagnetic storms and high-latitude aurorae.  Click  here  for more information and updates.

 

Dateline -  11 June 2015 -  Solar aurora watch

On June 18, the Sun produced its biggest flare in nearly two months. The M3-class explosion caused a brief low-frequency radio blackout over North America and hurled a CME into space. A glancing blow from the CME is likely on June 21 , possibly sparking a geomagnetic storm and solstice aurorae. Click  here  for updates.

 

Dateline -  11 June 2015 -  Sunset planets

When sun goes down tonight, step outside and look west. Venus, Jupiter and the crescent Moon are having a lovely conjunction in the sunset sky. Click  here  for photos

 

Dateline -  11 June 2015 -  Venus and Jupiter on show

Venus and Jupiter are converging for a must-see close encounter at the end of June. It could be the best backyard sky show of 2015.    Full story     Video

 

Dateline -  4 June 2015 -  Arietids meteor swarm has started

The Earth is entering a stream of debris from an unknown comet, and this is causing one of the most intense meteor showers of the year. Ironically, most sky watchers won't notice it, because the shower peaks in broad daylight. We only know it's happening right now because a radar in Canada is picking up echoes from meteoroids streaking through the blue sky overhead. Astronomers call these meteors 'Arietids' as they appear to radiate from the direction of the constellation Aries, not far from the June Sun.

Visual observers may be able to see a handful of Arietids in the hour or so before sunrise over the next week when the shower is at its peak. These will all be  'Earthgrazers' - that is, meteors which enter at shallow (<10o) angles and streak across very long arcs in the sky. This phenomenon is a result of the radiant never getting much above the horizon before the rising sun renders the meteors invisible to the eye.

The shower is unique in that it has a very broad peak lasting almost five days. The best time to watch will be any day during the early morning hours of June 6 – June 12. For observing tips on how you might be able to see earthgrazing Arietids just before sunrise in the mornings ahead, click  here .

 

Dateline -  22 May 2015 -  Noctilucent clouds observed over the Arctic

NASA's AIM spacecraft has spotted a luminous patch of electric-blue drifting across the Arctic Circle. The sighting marks the beginning of the 2015 season for northern-hemisphere noctilucent clouds (NLCs). Long ago, NLCs were a polar phenomenon confined mainly to the Arctic. In recent years, however, they have intensified and spread, with sightings as far south as Utah and Colorado in the United States.  Click  here  to learn more about these exotic clouds and how northern hemisphere observers might see them this summer.

 

Dateline -  19 May 2015 -  Geomagnetic storm in progress

A moderate (G2-class) geomagnetic storm is underway today as Earth enters an unsettled stream of solar wind. High-latitude sky watchers should be alert for auroras, especially during the hours around local midnight. Click  here  for more information and updates.

 

Dateline -  15 May 2015 -  The first marathon on Mars has been completed

On Earth, a fast runner takes a few hours to complete a marathon. On Mars, the first marathon has taken eleven years to complete. NASA's Opportunity rover crossed the finish line of the first "Martian Marathon" earlier this year.    Full story     Video

 

Dateline -  13 May 2015 -  The mystery of Earth's companion 1991 VG

About 20 years ago, a mysterious object made a close approach to Earth. Was it a natural object  such as a near-Earth asteroid, a man-made object such as an expended rocket stage from the Apollo Project, or even an alien probe to examine the Earth? It will be back in two years' time. Click   here  for a full report.      (Contributed by Mark)

 

Dateline -  11 May 2015 -  Aurorae on Mars

NASA's MAVEN spacecraft (Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN) has detected widespread aurorae on Mars.    Full story

 

Dateline -  6 May 2015 -  Powerful X2-Flare on the Sun

Emerging sunspot AR2339 unleashed an intense X2-class solar flare on May 5 at approximately 22:11 UT. Radiation from the flare caused strong radio blackouts on the Pacific side of Earth, interfering with communications at frequencies below ~20 MHz. The blast also hurled a CME (Coronal Mass Ejection) into space, but not towards Earth. This event could herald a sustained period of high solar activity, as AR2339 appears to be large and explosive. It seems that the quiet phase the Sun has experienced recently (see Dateline 30 April below) has ended. Click  here  for more information and updates.

 

Dateline -  30 April 2015 -  MESSENGER spacecraft uncovers secrets on Mercury

NASA's MESSENGER spacecraft crashed into Mercury on April 30, ending a years-long mission that made many unexpected discoveries about the innermost planet. Click  here  for some of MESSENGER's most surprising finds.

 

Dateline -  30 April 2015 -  New Horizons spacecraft detects surface features on Pluto, including a possible polar cap

Click  here  for a full report.

 

Dateline -  30 April 2015 -  Sun enters a quiet phase

Everyone knows that high solar activity has a profound effect on the space around Earth. Less well known is that "low" solar activity can be equally transformative. This week, the sun is plunging into a quiet state with almost no sunspots and a vanishing chance of flares. Click  here  to find out what this means.

 

Dateline -  30 April 2015 -  Volcanic ash cloud heads east

A 10 000 kilometre-long plume of sulphurous gas from Chile's Calbuco volcano is now crossing the Atlantic Ocean en route to Africa. Will it reach Australia? Click  here  for more.

 

Dateline -  30 April 2015 -  Microbes sent to the threshold of space

On April 28, microbes sent to the edge of space to test their response to cosmic radiation crash-landed in the California desert - and it did not go well for the microbes. Click  here  for more.

 

Dateline -  29 April 2015 -  Sahara dust feeds Amazon rain forest

The Amazon rainforest and the Sahara desert seem utterly different. Yet NASA satellites have discovered a surprising connection that intimately links these two disparate parts of our planet.    Full story     Video

 

Dateline -  23 April 2015 -  Volcanic lightning in Chile

The Calbuco volcano in southern Chile erupted yesterday. Two blasts in 24 hours on April 22 sent plumes of ash and sulphurous gas shooting at least 10 kilometres high. One of the eruptions occurred at night and put on a spectacular display of rare and mysterious volcanic lightning.  Click  here  for a picture of the lightning and a discussion of its underlying physics.

 

Dateline -  22 April 2015 -  John Harrison's Clock B is in the Guiness Book of World Records

250 years ago, John Harrison of the famous 'Longitude' story designed a pendulum clock that he claimed to be accurate to one second in 100 days. Now, in the 21st century, it has been built and tests at the Royal Observatory, Greenwich have shown it to be even more accurate, to five-eighths of a second in 100 days.    Full story      (Contributed by Matt)

 

Dateline -  21 April 2015 -  Want to name a landform on Pluto ?

When NASA's New Horizons spacecraft flies by Pluto this July, its high-resolution cameras will spot many new landforms on the dwarf planet's unexplored surface. They are all going to need names,and NASA is offering you the opportunity to help.    Full story

 

Dateline -  20 April 2015 -  Lyrids meteor shower

High-latitude sky watchers should be alert for auroras this week when a solar wind stream and a faint CME are expected to hit Earth's magnetic field in quick succession. NOAA forecasters estimate a 45% to 65% chance of polar geomagnetic storms on April 21-22.

At the same time, Earth will be passing through a stream of debris from Comet Thatcher, source of the annual Lyrid meteor shower. Sky watchers are already seeing a smattering of late-night fireballs as Earth approaches the diffuse core of the debris stream. Meteor rates are expected to peak on April 22-23 with as many as 20 Lyrids per hour. Click  here  for observing tips and suggestions.

 

Dateline -  9 April 2015 -  Yellow balls in space

Citizen scientists scanning images from a NASA observatory have found "yellow balls" in space that may hold important clues to the mysteries of starbirth.    Full story     Video

 

Dateline -  3 April 2015 -  Total lunar eclipse on April 4

Sky watchers in the western Pacific can see a brief but beautiful lunar eclipse on Saturday night, April 4. The Moon will turn red, and possibly turquoise, too, as the lunar disc passes through the shadow of our planet. Totality will be brief, so it is important to be outside at the right moment, say 10 pm Eastern Standard Time in Queensland. Click  here  for viewing times and more information from Spaceweather, and  here  for information specific to eastern Australia.

 

Dateline -  19 March 2015 -  Total solar eclipse in the Arctic

On March 20, the first day of northern spring, Arctic sky watchers could witness something rare and wonderful: Northern Lights during a total eclipse of the sun. Earth's magnetic field is reverberating from a CME strike on March 17 that sparked the strongest geomagnetic storm of the current solar cycle. Days after the impact, aurorae are still dancing around the Arctic Circle. Those aurorae could emerge in broad daylight this Friday when the new Moon passes in front of the Arctic sun, producing a total eclipse visible from Svalbard, the Faroe Islands, and many ships at sea. Click  here  for a preview and updates during the eclipse.

 

Dateline -  17 March 2015 -  Severe geomagnetic storm

A coronal mass ejection (CME) hit the Earth's magnetic field during the early hours of March 17, triggering a magnetic disturbance that has escalated into the strongest geomagnetic storm of the current solar cycle (Kp=8). In the United States, during the hours before sunrise on St Patrick's Day, bright green skies appeared over multiple US states including Wisconsin, Washington, Minnesota, and the Dakotas. Aurorae were also seen in New Zealand, Tasmania and Victoria, and in New South Wales as far north as Goulburn. Please check  here  for pictures and updates on the progress of the storm.

 

Dateline -  7 March 2015 -  Active Sunspot

A sunspot has emerged near the sun's southeastern limb, and it is crackling with strong flares. The most powerful so far, an M9-class explosion on March 7, produced a moderately-strong radio blackout over the Pacific side of Earth. Click  here  for images and updates.

 

Dateline -  6 March 2015 -  Exploding star hints at how dark matter warps light in space

An exploding star has been seen by astronomers four separate times as a result of dark matter affecting the image, an Australian researcher has revealed. A team of international scientists studying space using the Hubble Telescope found a supernova explosion appeared multiple times in different places due to the impact of gravitation on light. Team member Brad Tucker from the Australian National University in Canberra said a cluster of galaxies and dark matter in front of the explosion had warped the way it looked. "So if you actually look at how the light has changed over time in each of those four images, it is exactly the same origin, so it has to be the same event," he said.  Read the full story  here .      (Contributed by Susheela)

 

Dateline -  5 March 2015 -  The first ever photograph of light existing as both a wave and particle at the same time

Scientists at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne have captured on camera the first photograph of light behaving in the form of a wave and also as a particle simultaneously. This historic breakthrough shows incontrovertibly that light is both a wave and a particle at the same time.  Read the full story and watch the video  here .      (Contributed by Sean)

 

Dateline -  1 March 2015 -  Peculiar noctilucent clouds over Antarctica

The strange behaviour of noctilucent clouds over Antarctica in recent months has researchers on the trail of new teleconnections in Earth's atmosphere, which can alter weather and climate on a global scale.  Click  here  for the full story.

 

Dateline -  24 February 2015 -  Chinese rocket's spectacular re-entry

On the night of February 23-24, observers across the western half of North America witnessed a spectacular cluster of bright lights in the sky. It was the re-entry and disintegration of a Chinese rocket body. Coincidentally, a geomagnetic storm was in progress at the time and more than one photographer caught the rocket's debris cutting across curtains of Northern Lights.  Click  here  for photos and more information.

 

Dateline -  20 February 2015 -  Unusual comet has a close encounter with the Sun

Astronomers are scratching their heads over an unusual comet that is passing by the sun. The icy visitor to the inner solar system does not belong to any known family of sungrazing comets, and it appeared to be doomed as it made its plunge toward the Sun on February 19. Instead of disintegrating, however, the comet has emerged apparently intact, and could become a target for telescopes on Earth when it emerges from the Sun's glare in the weeks ahead. Images and updates may be found  here .

 

Dateline -  12 February 2015 -  Deep Space Climate Observatory launched

For years, space weather forecasters have worried about the aging ACE spacecraft, which provides early warnings of CMEs and other solar storms bearing down on Earth. Launched in 1997, ACE could fail at any moment, leaving us blind to incoming storms. On February 11, NOAA, NASA and the US Air Force launched a replacement - the Deep Space Climate Observatory. Read all about it  here  .

 

Dateline -  4 February 2015 -  Close encounter with Jupiter as it reaches opposition on February 7

This weekend, Jupiter is at its biggest, brightest, and closest to Earth for all of 2015.    Full story

 

Dateline -  30 January 2015 -  The strange ways fluids slosh on the International Space Station

Researchers are using a pair of robots to examine the strange way fluids slosh and bubble on the International Space Station.    Full story     Video

 

Dateline -  21 January 2015 -  Close approach of asteroid next week

Early next week, a large asteroid named 2004 BL86 will fly past the Earth-Moon system. There's no danger of a collision, but NASA radars will be monitoring the mountain-sized space rock as it passes by only 1.2 million kilometres (745 000 miles) away. Amateur astronomers can watch the flyby, too. Glowing like a 9th magnitude star, 2004 BL86 will be an easy target for backyard telescopes on the nights of closest approach, January 26-28. Click  here  for observing tips and more information.

 

Dateline -  9 January 2015 -  Magnetic storm on Comet Lovejoy ?

Everyone knows about geomagnetic storms on Earth, but did you know that comets can have them, too? Right now, a type of magnetic storm may be in progress in the tail of bright Comet Lovejoy (C/2014 Q2), causing 'plasma blobs' and 'disconnection events' visible in amateur telescopes. Click  here  for images and more information.

 

Dateline -  7 January 2015 -  New image of the 'Pillars of Creation'

Recently, the Hubble Space Telescope revisited the famous 'Pillars of Creation' (the nebula + star cluster M16), providing astronomers with a sharper and wider view of the iconic star forming region. The image hints that the Pillars of Creation might also be 'pillars of destruction'.    Full story

 

Dateline -  7 January 2015 -  Unexpected geomagnetic storm

A surprise geomagnetic storm erupted during the early hours of January 7, sparking bright aurorae around both of Earth's poles. The storm may have been sparked by the arrival of a CME originally expected to miss our planet.  Click  here  for images and more information.

 

 

 

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