Antares Rocket Launch
Image Credit: NASA, Bill Ingalls
The Milky Trail
Image Credit & Copyright: Wally Pacholka
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“Here’s an excuse to stay outside tonight that doesn’t (necessarily) involve any drunken shenanigans: according to Accuweather, we may be able to see a display of the northern lights over the city Saturday! They write: “The [solar] flare is also expected to cause vibrant northern lights from the Arctic as far south as New York, the Dakotas, Washington and Michigan, with a smaller possibility of it going into Pennsylvania and Iowa, even Kansas.” — Accuweather
A solar flare that occurred around 2 a.m. Thursday morning may create a spectacular display of northern lights Saturday evening. The midlevel flare had a long duration and was directed at Earth. According to AccuWeather.com Astronomer Hunter Outten, who stated that this flare was “impressive”, these are the best conditions for seeing a direct effect on our planet. On the Kp index, the flare has been categorized at 6 to 8. This is a scale for measuring the intensity of a a geomagnetic storm. The 6 to 8 rating means that the effects of the radiation will have a greater reach.
The radiation from such a flare may cause radio wave disturbances to electronics such as cell phones, GPS and radios, causing services to occasionally cut in and out. While traveling slower than was originally anticipated, the flare effects are moving towards Earth at 1000 km per second.
The flare is also expected to cause vibrant northern lights from the Arctic as far south as New York, the Dakotas, Washington and Michigan, with a smaller possibility of it going into Pennsylvania and Iowa, even Kansas. The lights are currently estimated for 8 p.m. EDT Saturday arrival, with a possible deviation of up to seven hours. If the radiation hits much after dark settles on the East Coast the lights may be missed and will instead only be visible for the West.
Solar flares create auroras when radiation from the sun reaches Earth and interacts with charged protons in our atmosphere. The effects are greater at the magnetic poles and weaken as they move south from the Arctic or north of the Antarctic. In the northern hemisphere the results are called the aurora borealis, with the aurora australis being its southern counterpart. The result is a spectacular display of light and color for areas with clear enough views.
Reminder: The Amateur Astronomy Association of NY is hosting a starfest event and will be located in great viewing conditions (unless it rains or gets too cloudy) for the aurora as well.
The James Webb Space Telescope (sometimes called JWST) is a large, infrared-optimized space telescope.
Images from Official JWST Flickr stream (Mix between model JWST and real one)
The project is working to a 2018 launch date. Webb will find the first galaxies that formed in the early Universe, connecting the Big Bang to our own Milky Way Galaxy. Webb will peer through dusty clouds to see stars forming planetary systems, connecting the Milky Way to our own Solar System. Webb’s instruments will be designed to work primarily in the infrared range of the electromagnetic spectrum, with some capability in the visible range.
Webb will have a large mirror, 6.5 meters (21.3 feet) in diameter and a sunshield the size of a tennis court. Both the mirror and sunshade won’t fit onto a rocket fully open, so both will fold up and open once Webb is in outer space. Webb will reside in an orbit about 1.5 million km (1 million miles) from the Earth.
The James Webb Space Telescope was named after the NASA Administrator who crafted the Apollo program, and who was a staunch supporter of space science.
24 Hour Sky Ring
I appreciated that sky post, I just didn’t appreciate how well it doesn’t work with tumblr because you just scroll forever and it never ends. So I just made it into a small circle to so you can enjoy it’s existence without freaking out over it trying to take over your dash
“Rising temperatures have brought a longer growing season in the high latitudes. Once-treeless tundra ecosystems have greened the most, while boreal forests had a more mixed response. Over the past three decades, temperatures have risen faster in the Arctic than anywhere else in the world. Consequently, the growing season has gotten longer in the far north, bringing major changes to plant communities in tundra and boreal (also known as taiga) ecosystems.
For decades, instruments on various NASA and NOAA satellites have continuously monitored vegetation from space. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) and Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR) instruments measure the intensity of visible and near-infrared light reflecting off plant leaves. Scientists use that information to calculate the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI), an indicator of photosynthetic activity or “greenness” of the landscape.
The maps above show NDVI trends between July 1982 and December 2011 for the northern portions of North America and Eurasia. Shades of green depict areas where plant productivity and abundance increased; shades of brown show where photosynthetic activity declined. There was no trend in areas that are white; areas that are gray were not included in the trend analysis. An international team of university and NASA scientists published an analysis of the NDVI data in Nature Climate Change in March 2013.
The maps show a ring of greening in the treeless tundra ecosystems of the circumpolar Arctic—the northernmost parts of Canada, Russia, and Scandinavia. Tall shrubs and trees have started to grow in areas that were previously dominated by tundra grasses. The researchers concluded that plant growth had increased by 7 to 10 percent overall.”
As big as a tennis court and as tall as a four-story building, a full-scale model of the James Webb Space Telescope model was on display from March 8-10 at the South by Southwest Interactive Festival in Austin, Texas.
NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope is the successor to Hubble and the largest space telescope to ever be built.
And suddenly I have an actual reason to wish I was at South by Southwest.
“This graceful arc traces a Delta rocket climbing through Thursday’s early morning skies over Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, USA. Snug inside the rocket’s Centaur upper stage were NASA’s twin Radiation Belt Storm Probes (RBSP), now in separate orbits within planet Earth’s Van Allen radiation belts. Reflected in the Turn Basin from a vantage point about 3 miles from Space Launch Complex 41, the scene was captured in a composite of two exposures. One highlights the dramatic play of launch pad lighting, clouds, and sky. A subsequent 3 minute long exposure records the rocket’s fiery trail. While most spacecraft try to avoid the radiation belts, named for their discoverer James Van Allen, RBSP’s mission will be to explore their dynamic and harsh conditions.”
Credit & Copyright: Jens Hackmann
“Where will the next Perseid meteor appear? Sky enthusiasts who trekked outside for the Perseid meteor shower that peaked over the past few days typically had this question on their mind. Six meteors from this past weekend are visible in the above stacked image composite, including one bright fireball streaking along the band of the background Milky Way Galaxy. All Perseid meteors appear to come from the shower radiant in the constellation of Perseus. Early reports about this year’s Perseids indicate that as many as 100 meteors per hour were visible from some dark locations during the peak. The above digital mosaic was taken near Weikersheim, Germany.”