Tag Archive: space

super moon

The full Moon has a reputation for trouble. It raises high tides, it makes dogs howl, it wakes you up in the middle of the night with beams of moonlight stealing through drapes. If a moonbeam wakes you up on the night of May 5th, 2012, you might want to get out of bed and take a look.  This May’s full Moon is a “super Moon,” as much as 14% bigger and 30% brighter than other full Moons of 2012.

The scientific term for the phenomenon is “perigee moon.” Full Moons vary in size because of the oval shape of the Moon’s orbit. The Moon follows an elliptical path around Earth with one side (“perigee”) about 50,000 km closer than the other (“apogee”).  Full Moons that occur on the perigee side of the Moon’s orbit seem extra big and bright.

Read more at Perigee “Super Moon” On May 5-6 – NASA Science.

solar flare close up

The massive cloud of charged particles could disrupt utility grids, airline flights, satellite networks and GPS services, especially in northern areas. But the same blast could also paint colorful auroras farther from the poles than normal.

Astronomers say the sun has been relatively quiet for some time. And this storm, while strong, may seem fiercer because Earth has been lulled by several years of weak solar activity.

The storm is part of the sun’s normal 11-year cycle, which is supposed to reach peak storminess next year. Solar storms don’t harm people, but they do disrupt technology. And during the last peak around 2002, experts learned that GPS was vulnerable to solar outbursts.

via Solar Flare, Solar Storm, Sun Storm: Whatever It’s Called, Sun Activity May Yield Stellar Aurora Borealis.

The sun erupted with one of the largest solar flares of this solar cycle on March 6, 2012 at 7PM EST. This flare was categorized as an X5.4, making it the second largest flare — after an X6.9 on August 9, 2011 — since the sun’s activity segued into a period of relatively low activity called solar minimum in early 2007. The current increase in the number of X-class flares is part of the sun’s normal 11-year solar cycle, during which activity on the sun ramps up to solar maximum, which is expected to peak in late 2013.

About an hour later, at 8:14 PM ET, March 6, the same region let loose an X1.3 class flare. An X1 is 5 times smaller than an X5 flare.

In association with these flares, the sun also expelled two significant coronal mass ejections (CMEs). In the meantime, the CME associated with the X-class flare from March 4 has dumped solar particles and magnetic fields into Earth’s atmosphere and distorted Earth’s magnetic fields, causing a moderate geomagnetic storm

NASA’s models predict that the CMEs will impact both Earth and Mars, as well as pass by several NASA spacecraft – Messenger, Spitzer, and STEREO-B. The models also predict that the leading edge of the first CME will reach Earth at about 1:25 AM EST on the morning of March 8 (plus or minus 7 hours). Such a CME could result in a severe geomagnetic storm, causing aurora at low latitudes, with possible disruption to high frequency radio communication, global positioning systems (GPS), and power grids.

Continue reading and see more images and video at: NASA – Second Biggest Flare Of the Solar Cycle.

Credit: NASA, ESA, and M. Livio, The Hubble Heritage Team and the Hubble 20th Anniversary Team (STScI)

Among my favorite pastimes, stargazing is one of them. Sadly, I live in a place that suffers from a bit of light pollution, so I don’t get to see as many or as vividly the constellations of the night sky. Still, when I can make out the plane of our galaxy, I get excited thinking about our neighboring star systems, the vastness of space, and how much we have yet to learn.

Check out this photo series of galaxies and other beautiful space phenomena at Tree Hugger. I really don’t have a reason to post them other than they’re simply amazing.

And if these images aren’t mind-blowing enough, check out this lovely image of our home (earth) in relation to, well everything else (that we know of). It’s quite humbling that, whether we get our act together and clean up our planet or let it rot away into nothingness, earth is not even a fraction of a speck of dust in the grand scheme of things. There’s nothing significant about our planet other than we need it to live. If life on earth were to end, it/we would doubtingly be missed.

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