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Thu, 19 Jan 2017
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Sun

Shape-Shifting Sunspot

Every time you look, sunspot 1271 has a new outline. For the past two days the active region has been in a constant state of change, altering its shape on an hourly basis. Click on the image for 48 hours of shape-shifting:


These rapid changes have caused the sunspot's magnetic field to criss-cross and tangle. The magnetic field now has a "beta-gamma" configuration that harbors energy for M-class solar flares. Any such flares today would be approximately Earth-directed because the sunspot is not far from disk-center.

Sunspot 1271 is so big, it's catching the attention of observers unaided by solar telescopes. Sarah E. Baur of Anaconda, Montana, noticed it yesterday through the smoke of a nearby fire:

Meteor

Meteorites Possible From Irish Fireball

Image
© Unknown
A fireball, similar to the one pictured, was observed over Irish skies on 23 August 2011
Astronomy Ireland (AI) has confirmed that a fireball meteor entered the atmosphere above Ireland in the early hours of Tuesday morning (23 August 2011).

The organisation added that meteor fragments are likely to have reached the surface but it remains unclear at this stage if the impact occurred overland or in the Atlantic Ocean.

Astronomy Ireland says it has already received dozens of reports of a bright fireball shooting across Irish skies at approximately 12:15 AM on Tuesday. 60-70% of reports received came from the Greater Dublin area with other reports being received from Tipperary, Meath, Cork, Mayo and Kerry.

Initial reports suggest the fireball moved westward in a line from north Dublin to south Mayo, meaning anyone living to the north of this line would have observed the fireball to the south and vice versa for those living south of the Midlands.

Meteor

Scotland: Unidentified Falling Object Seen Over Loch Ness

© Wikimedia Commons
Scottish police are scratching their heads over a mysterious occurrence at Loch Ness this weekend, The Scotsman newspaper reports.

On Saturday night several eyewitnesses saw an object falling into or near the loch. Some describe it as a white light, others as a blue light. People said it was a balloon, or an ultralight, or a parachute. Some people said it didn't fall at all, merely passed over the tree line.

In other words, nobody has the faintest idea what they saw.

So many people called emergency services, however, that it's certain something strange was going on in the skies, and the police, the coastguard, a lifeboat crew, and the Royal Air Force went in search of it. Several hours of looking in the water and along the shore turned up nothing.

Meteor

Meteor Measured From Space Station - How Big Was That Perseid?

NASA scientists have analyzed the photograph taken by Ron Garan aboard the ISS during the 2011 Perseid Meteor Shower and have deduced the size and speed it was traveling at when it hit the Earth's atmosphere.


Meteor

Missing the Forest for the Trees: Kamikaze Satellite Could Be Earth's Last Defense Against Asteroid

Image
© Dan Durda/IAAA
Chinese researchers from Beijing's Tsinghua University have revealed plans to divert the asteroid Apophis - which may well collide with Earth in a couple decades - by smashing a kamikaze solar sail into it.

The asteroid, 99942 Apophis to give it its full title, is a 46 million tonne, 1,600-foot-wide chunk of space rock that's currently hurtling its way towards our planet. In 2029 it will soar safely past Earth, but we won't be out of the woods just yet.

There's a possibility that it will pass through a slim gravitational keyhole - a tiny, 600 mile area of space - that would cause the asteroid to turn back on itself and strike Earth some seven years later in 2036.

Meteor

Two Comets to Pass Close to Earth in Early October

As mentioned before in previous blogs, Comet Elenin will pass close to Earth in six weeks or so. We had previously talked about the theories out there with this comet. To read them, please click here and here.


Comment: Actually, for a better analysis of the facts and myths surrounding Comet Elenin, check out:

Elenin, Nibiru, Planet-X - Time for a Sanity Check


For even better treat, on Oct. 7, Comet Honda will brighten to a magnitude 5 in the constellation Leo and favor a horizon view before sunrise for Northern sky observers.

That is not all, Comet Honda will join Comet Elenin, and both will be visible on that morning in the same wide field of view in binoculars and camera lenses, a rare treat with two comets at once! You should be able to get some spectacular photos of this event. I will have to remind you as we get closer to the event so that you can post some pictures for me.

© Unknown
Comet Honda is Shown (Bright Object in the Center of the Photo)

Meteor

Cosmic smoke and mirrors, or how crumbs of truth are mixed with confusion and lies: The mystery of Comet Elenin

Astronomers and other outer space experts are speaking out on a comet expected to make a close call with colliding into Earth later this year. The consequences could be dire, so why are so many people unaware of it?


"I think it's worth a raised eyebrow" says author Brooks Agnew. He's done a lot of research on Elenin and tells RT that there are some rather strange coincidences regarding the comet that people should take into consideration.

"A lot of people are concerned about it," says Agnew. "We've done a lot of research on Comet Elenin and what we've found is there's a lot of missing data on this comet"

Agnew says that NASA calls the comet just "a harmless little fuzzball of ice" that won't come within more than 20 million miles from Earth. Others, he says, are claiming that this comet should raise concern since it doesn't look like a comet, doesn't act like a comet and is coming from outside of the area where most comets are accustomed to originate out of.

"There are a lot of things about this comet that don't make sense," Agnew says.

Comment: There has been much disinformation and plain hysteria around the topic of Comet Elenin that contribute to the general confusion regarding possible effects of the comet on Earth and our civilization.

We advise our readers to take a look at the following articles that bring sanity to this highly charged topic.

Elenin, Nibiru, Planet-X - Time for a Sanity Check

Cosmic Propaganda Alert! Comet Elenin: Just Passing By - With SOTT Commentary

Interview with Russian astronomer Leonid Elenin - The discoverer of Comet Elenin


Telescope

Delicato, an unusual solar prominence

With two big sunspots turning toward Earth and a variety of prominences dancing around the solar limb, the sun is attracting the attention of amateur astronomers. Alan Friedman sends this report from Buffalo, New York: "The activity on the sun today was so diverse in intensity and character I was reminded of movements in a symphony. This very massive prominence (pictured below) was so very faint--almost invisible when others circling the limb were properly exposed. It's delicate tendrils inspired the name Delicato."

Image
© John Stetson
In Falmouth, Maine, photographer John Stetson turned his solar telescope toward sunspot group 1271 and found it seething. "The active region is bright and crackling, surrounded by long, twisting filaments of magnetism that seem poised to produce some powerful flares," he says. Indeed, NOAA analysts note that the sunspot has a "beta-delta-gamma" magnetic field that harbors energy for X-class explosions.

Meteor

US: Meteorites May Have Landed in the Region of Northeastern Ohio and Western Pennsylvania

© Unknown

Residents of northeastern Ohio and western Pennsylvania should be on the lookout for space rocks.

At 1:22 a.m. Aug. 8, sky cameras belonging to the Southern Ontario Meteor Network in Canada recorded a meteor as it entered the Earth's atmosphere over Lake Erie, and scientists at NASA say they have "high confidence" that pieces of the meteor landed in northern Trumbull County.

The "fireball" entered the atmosphere 54 miles above Lake Erie, traveling south-by-southeast at approximately 55,900 mph. Dr. William Cooke, head of NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office, said debris created Doppler radar echoes west of Hermitage, Pa.

The International Astronomical Union defines a fireball as "a meteorite brighter than any of the planets." In essence, the mass and speed of the meteor increase its visibility, Cooke said.

Cooke said the fragments are about two to three inches in diameter and likely weigh a few ounces.

Patrick Durrell, an astronomy professor at Youngstown State University said the fragments can be difficult to identify, but there is at least one telltale sign.

"If you pick up a rock that feels a lot heavier than you'd expect for its size, that's a good place to start," Durrell said.

Durrell and Cooke both said meteorite landings like this one are highly common and occur daily.

Sun

NASA Spacecraft Sees Solar Storm Engulf Earth For The First Time

For the first time, a spacecraft far from Earth has turned and watched a solar storm engulf our planet. The movie, released today during a NASA press conference, has galvanized solar physicists, who say it could lead to important advances in space weather forecasting.

"The movie sent chills down my spine," says Craig DeForest of the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado. "It shows a CME swelling into an enormous wall of plasma and then washing over the tiny blue speck of Earth where we live. I felt very small."


CMEs are billion-ton clouds of solar plasma launched by the same explosions that spark solar flares. When they sweep past our planet, they can cause auroras, radiation storms, and in extreme cases power outages. Tracking these clouds and predicting their arrival is an important part of space weather forecasting.

"We have seen CMEs before, but never quite like this," says Lika Guhathakurta, program scientist for the STEREO mission at NASA headquarters. "STEREO-A has given us a new view of solar storms."