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Coronal Mass Ejections CMEs 10.2011

October 24th Coronal Mass Ejection Puts On An Auroral Show

Re-posted courtesy of Spaceweather.com on 10.25.2011

AURORAS IN THE USA: A coronal mass ejection (CME) hit Earth on Oct. 24th at approximately 1800 UT (2:00 pm EDT). The impact strongly compressed Earth’s magnetic field, directly exposing geosynchronous satellites to solar wind plasma, and sparked an intense geomagnetic storm. As night fell over North America, auroras spilled across the Canadian border into the contiguous United States.

“Wow, wow, wow! These were the best Northern Lights I’ve seen since 2004,” says Shawn Malone, who took this picture from the shores of Lake Superior in Michigan:

“The auroras filled the sky in every direction–even to the south,” he says.

Indeed, the display spread all the way down to Arkansas. “When I saw the alert, I ran outside and immediately saw red auroras,” reports Brian Emfinger from the city of Ozark. “Within a few minutes the auroras went crazy! It was unbelievable.” Update: Emfinger has assembled a 2h 22m time-lapse movie of the display: 29 MB wmv.

Auroras were seen or photographed in more than half of all US states including Alabama, Wisconsin, New Mexico, Tennessee, Missouri, Illinois, Nebraska, Kentucky, North Carolina, Indiana, Oklahoma, Kansas, Iowa, Maryland, New York, Montana, Ohio, Colorado, Pennsylvania, Washington, Virginia, Texas, Arizona, Minnesota, Maine, Michigan, Oregon, Arkansas and California. Many observers, especially in the deep south, commented on the pure red color of the lights they saw. These rare all-red auroras sometimes appear during intense geomagnetic storms. They occur some 300 to 500 km above Earth’s surface and are not yet fully understood.

The storm is subsiding now. Nevertheless, high-latitude sky watchers should remain alert for auroras as Earth’s magnetic field continues to reverberate from the CME impact. Aurora alerts: text, voice.

NEW: October 2011 Aurora Gallery
[previous Octobers: 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2004, 2003, 2002]

magnetic data: from Dave Gradwell of Birr Ireland; from Rob Stammes of Laukvik, Lofoten, Norway

COMET CORPSE: “Doomsday Comet” Elenin was briefly famous for inaccurate predictions that it might hit Earth. Instead it disintegrated as it approached the sun last month. (Doomsday canceled.) Over the weekend, Italian astronomer Rolando Ligustri spotted the comet’s remains. It’s the elongated cloud in this Oct. 22nd photo of the star field where Elenin would have appeared if it were still intact:

Another team of astronomers–Ernesto Guido, Giovanni Sostero and Nick Howes–spotted the cloud on the same night. At first they were skeptical. “The cloud was extremely faint and diffuse,” says Guido. “We wondered if it might be scattered moonlight or some other transient artifact.” But when the team looked again on Oct. 23, the cloud was still there. A two-night blink animation shows that the cloud is moving just as the original comet would have. Note: Some readers have noticed a fast-moving streak to the to the lower right of the debris cloud. That is an unrelated asteroid, 2000 OJ8 (magnitude 14), which happened to be in the field of view at the same time as the cloud of Elenin.

More information about this discovery and continued tracking of the “comet corpse” may be found at the Remanzacco Observatory Astronomy Blog.

Near Earth Asteroids

Potentially Hazardous Asteroids (PHAs) are space rocks larger than approximately 100m that can come closer to Earth than 0.05 AU. None of the known PHAs is on a collision course with our planet, although astronomers are finding new onesall the time.

On October 25, 2011 there were 1256 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Recent & Upcoming Earth-asteroid encounters:

Asteroid
Date(UT)
Miss Distance
Mag.
Size
2011 UL10
Oct 21
3.5 LD
39 m
2011 UC64
Oct 24
1.3 LD
12 m
2011 UH10
Oct 24
9.6 LD
17 m
2011 FZ2
Nov 7
75.9 LD
1.6 km
2005 YU55
Nov 8
0.8 LD
200 m
2011 UT91
Nov 14
9.7 LD
95 m
1994 CK1
Nov 16
68.8 LD
1.5 km
1996 FG3
Nov 23
39.5 LD
1.1 km
2003 WM7
Dec 9
47.6 LD
1.5 km
1999 XP35
Dec 20
77.5 LD
1.0 km
2000 YA
Dec 26
2.9 LD
80 m
2011 SL102
Dec 28
75.9 LD
1.1 km

Notes:LD means “Lunar Distance.” 1 LD = 384,401 km, the distance between Earth and the Moon. 1 LD also equals 0.00256 AU. MAG is the visual magnitude of the asteroid on the date of closest approach.

Essential web links
NOAA Space Weather Prediction Center
The official U.S. government space weather bureau
Atmospheric Optics
The first place to look for information about sundogs, pillars, rainbows and related phenomena.
Solar Dynamics Observatory
Researchers call it a “Hubble for the sun.” SDO is the most advanced solar observatory ever.
STEREO
3D views of the sun from NASA’s Solar and Terrestrial Relations Observatory
Solar and Heliospheric Observatory
Realtime and archival images of the Sun from SOHO.
Daily Sunspot Summaries
from the NOAA Space Environment Center
Heliophysics
the underlying science of space weather
Science Central

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