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Fire in the Sky


Geomagnetic Storm From Sunspot AR1429 Weaker Than Expected - Beautiful Auroras!

A widely-reported CME produced by an X5-flare from sunspot AR1429 hit our planet's magnetic field on March 8th. The impact was weaker than expected, producing only a mild geomagnetic storm. Power grids and other sun-sensitive technologies were unaffected.

Update: As March 9th unfolds, conditions in the wake of the CME are becoming favorable for stronger geomagnetic storming. These auroras appeared over Faskrudsfjordur, Iceland:

© Jónína Óskarsdóttir
Image Taken: Mar. 8, 2012
Location: Faskrudsfjordur, Iceland.
"No words can describe the experience of the Northern Lights show tonight," says photographer Jónína Óskarsdóttir. "This is just a 1s exposure!"

High-latitude sky watchers should remain alert for auroras as Earth's magnetic field continues to reverberate from the CME impact.


Elenin and the Mystery of Exploding Comets

Electric universe proponent David Talbott takes up the Comet Elenin question from a vantage point generally ignored by both the scientific mainstream and the Internet popularizers of Doomsday speculations. What is the relationship of Elenin's catastrophic demise to the larger, unsolved mystery of explosive comet disintegration? 
For a first look at the larger context, see "Seeking the Third Story"


Sightings of meteor reported across the UK

Police forces across the UK have received numerous calls after a large fireball, thought to be a meteor, was spotted in the sky.

Reports of a "bright light" and an "orange glow" were received by police across Scotland and the north of England around 9.40pm yesterday.

The Met Office tweeted: "Hi All, for anyone seeing something in the night sky, we believe it was a meteorite."

The Kielder Observatory also reported the sighting of a "huge fireball" travelling from north to south over Northumberland at 9.41pm.

The Observatory posted on Twitter: "Of 30 years observing the sky £fireball best thing I have ever seen period."

Meteors are particles from space that burn up in a streak of light as they enter the Earth's atmosphere, whereas meteorites are larger objects that survive the trip and reach the surface of the Earth.


New Comet 257P/SOHO (2012)


Discovery Date: January 13, 2012
Magnitude: 6 mag
Discoverer: Alan Watson (STEREO-B spacecraft)

© Aerith Net
The orbital elements are published on M.P.E.C. 2012-E18.


Sun Fires Off 2 Huge Solar Flares in One-Two Punch

This image from NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory shows the sun as it unleashed an X5.4-class solar flare at 7:04 p.m. EST on March 6, 2012 (0002 March 7 GMT). The flare appears as the bright spot in the upper left.
The sun unleashed a cosmic double whammy Tuesday (March 6), erupting with two major flares to cap a busy day of powerful solar storms. One of the flares is the most powerful solar eruption of the year, so far.

Both of the huge flares ranked as X-class storms, the strongest type of solar flares the sun can have. They followed several weaker, but still powerful, sun storms on Tuesday and came just days after another major solar flare on Sunday night.

The first big solar storm was also the most powerful one, ranking as an X5.4-class flare after erupting at 7:02 p.m. EST (0002 March 7 GMT), according to an alert from the Space Weather Prediction Center operated by the National Weather Service. It is the strongest solar flare yet for 2012.

The second event occurred just over an hour later, reaching a maximum strength of X1.3.


New Comet C/2012 BJ98


Discovery Date: January 26 and March 1, 2012
Magnitude: 19.2 mag, 19.1 mag
Discoverer: Rik Hill (Mount Lemmon Survey), Alex R. Gibbs and Eric J. Christensen (Mount Lemmon Survey)

© Aerith Net
The orbital elements are published on M.P.E.C. 2012-E18.


New Comet C/2012 E1 (Hill)


Discovery Date: March 2, 2012
Magnitude: 19.6 mag
Discoverer: R. E. Hill (Mount Lemmon)

© Aerith Net
The orbital elements are published on M.P.E.C. 2012-E39.


Major Coronal Mass Ejection From Sunspot AR1429

Big sunspot AR1429 has unleashed another major flare. This one is the strongest yet, an X5-class eruption on March 7th at 00:28 UT. NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory recorded the extreme UV flash:

© aia.Imsal.com
This eruption hurled a bright CME into space. First-look data from STEREO-B are not sufficient to determine if the cloud is heading for Earth. Our best guess is "probably, yes, but not directly toward Earth." A glancing blow to our planet's magnetosphere is possible on March 8th or 9th. Stay tuned for updates.


Mysterious, Strange Sky sounds? Electromagnetic phenomena responsible?

Mysterious sounds have been heard booming from the sky all around the world - in some cases they were so loud they set off car alarms. The unsettling noises were heard recently from Europe to Canada, sounding like groans and powerful horns.

In Germany noises coming from the sky were recorded on a video camera and uploaded to YouTube, with car alarms clearly heard going off in the background.

Comment: The reader may want to check out the discussion about these strange sounds on Laura Knight-Jadczyk's FB page as well as the Forum discussion here, and this SOTT Focus by Joe Quinn: New Sott Report: Strange Noises in the Sky: Trumpets of the Apocalypse?


Sun Unleashes Powerful X-Class Solar Flare

The Sun has been quiet recently but early today (04:13 UTC on March 5, 2012) it unleashed a powerful X1-class solar flare and coronal mass ejection. The latest estimates indicate the CME will probably miss Earth, but hit Mercury and Venus. Even so, the science team from the Solar Dynamics Observatory says that high-latitude skywatchers should still be alert for auroras in the nights ahead. There was also an M2-class eruption from the same big and active sunspot, Active Region 1429, on March 4th which produced another, wider CME that might yet intersect Earth. The cloud is expected to deliver a glancing blow to our planet's magnetic field on March 6th at 04:30 UT (+/- 7 hrs).

Check the latest forecast of the CME's arrival from the NASA Goddard Space Weather Lab, which includes a great animation.

So, what's the difference in the classes of solar flares and how could they affect us on Earth?