Tag Archives: NASA

Flare Well AR2673

Almost out of view from our fair planet, rotating around the Sun’s western edge giant active region AR2673 lashed out with another intense solar flare followed by a large coronal mass ejection on September 10. The flare itself is seen here at the right in an extreme ultraviolet image from the sun-staring Solar Dynamics Observatory. This intense flare was the fourth X-class flare from AR2673 this month. The active region’s most recent associated coronal mass ejection collided with Earth’s magnetosphere 2 days later. Say farewell to the mighty AR2673, for now. For the next two weeks, the powerful sunspot group will be on the Sun’s far side. via NASA

NGC 6334: The Cats Paw Nebula

Nebulas are perhaps as famous for being identified with familiar shapes as perhaps cats are for getting into trouble. Still, no known cat could have created the vast Cat’s Paw Nebula visible in Scorpius. At 5,500 light years distant, Cat’s Paw is an emission nebula with a red color that originates from an abundance of ionized hydrogen atoms. Alternatively known as the Bear Claw Nebula or NGC 6334, stars nearly ten times the mass of our Sun have been born there in only the past few million years. Pictured here is a deep field image of the Cat’s Paw Nebula in light emitted by hydrogen, oxygen, and sulfur. via NASA

Calm Waters and Geomagnetic Storm

Very recognizable stars of the northern sky are a backdrop for calm waters in this moonlit sea and skyscape off Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Taken on September 7, the photo also records a colorful display of northern lights or aurora borealis triggered by a severe geomagnetic storm. Visible crossing the Sun, the giant solar active region responsible, AR 2673, is much larger than planet Earth. It has produced the strongest flare of the current solar cycle and and the Earth-directed coronal mass ejection in the last few days. via NASA

The Great Gig in the Sky

There were no crowds on the beach at Phillips Lake, Oregon on August 21. But a few had come there to stand, for a moment, in the dark shadow of the Moon. From the beach, this unscripted mosaic photo records their much anticipated solar eclipse. In two vertical panels it catches the last few seconds of totality and the first instant of 3rd contact, just as the eclipse ends and sunlight faintly returns. Across the US those gathered along the path of totality also took pictures and shared their moment. And like those at Phillips Lake they may treasure the experience more than any planned or unplanned photograph of the total eclipse of the Sun. via NASA

The Flash Spectrum of the Sun

In clear Madras, Oregon skies, this colorful eclipse composite captured the elusive chromospheric or flash spectrum of the Sun. Only three exposures, made on August 21 with telephoto lens and diffraction grating, are aligned in the frame. Directly imaged at the far left, the Sun’s diamond ring-like appearance at the beginning and end of totality brackets a silhouette of the lunar disk at maximum eclipse. Spread by the diffraction grating into the spectrum of colors toward the right, the Sun’s photospheric spectrum traces the two continuous streaks. They correspond to the diamond ring glimpses of the Sun’s normally overwhelming disk. But individual eclipse images also appear at each wavelength of light emitted by atoms along the thin, fleeting arcs of the solar chromosphere. The brightest images, or strongest chromospheric emission, are due to Hydrogen atoms. Red hydrogen alpha emission is at the far right with blue and purple hydrogen series emission to the left. In between, the brightest yellow emission is caused by atoms of Helium, an element only first discovered in the flash spectrum of the Sun. via NASA

The Climber and the Eclipse

What should you do if your rock climbing picture is photobombed by a total eclipse of the Sun? Rejoice — because your planning paid off. After months of considering different venues, and a week of scouting different locations in Oregon’s Smith Rock State Park, a group of photographers and rock climbers led by Ted Hesser, Martina Tibell, and Michael Shainblum settled on picturesque 100-meter tall Monkey Face tower as the dramatic foreground for their images of the pending total solar eclipse. Tension mounted as the eclipse time approached, planned juxtapositions were scrutinized, and the placement of rock climber Tommy Smith was adjusted. Right on schedule, though, the Moon moved in front of the Sun, and Smith moved in front of the Moon, just as planned. The solar eclipse image displayed here actually shows a diamond ring, an eclipse phase when a bit of the distant Sun is still visible beyond the Moon’s surface. via NASA

Saturns Rings from the Inside Out

What do Saturn’s rings look like from Saturn? Images from the robotic spacecraft Cassini are providing humanity with this unprecedented vantage point as it nears the completion of its mission. Previous to Cassini’s Grand Finale orbits, all images of Saturn’s majestic ring system were taken from outside of the rings looking in. Pictured in the inset is the remarkable video, while the spacecraft’s positions are depicted in the surrounding animation. Details of the complex rings are evident as the short time-lapse sequence begins, while the paper-thin thickness of the rings becomes apparent near the video’s end. The featured images were taken on August 20. Cassini has only a few more orbits around Saturn left before it is directed to dive into the giant planet on September 15. via NASA

A Waterspout in Florida

What’s happening over the water? Pictured here is one of the better images yet recorded of a waterspout, a type of tornado that occurs over water. Waterspouts are spinning columns of rising moist air that typically form over warm water. Waterspouts can be as dangerous as tornadoes and can feature wind speeds over 200 kilometers per hour. Some waterspouts form away from thunderstorms and even during relatively fair weather. Waterspouts may be relatively transparent and initially visible only by an unusual pattern they create on the water. The featured image was taken in 2013 July near Tampa Bay, Florida. The Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Florida is arguably the most active area in the world for waterspouts, with hundreds forming each year. Some people speculate that waterspouts are responsible for some of the losses recorded in the Bermuda Triangle. via NASA

Lunar View, Solar Eclipse

Orbiting above the lunar nearside on August 21, the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter turned to look back on a bright, Full Earth. As anticipated its Narrow Angle Camera scanned this sharp view of our fair planet, catching the shadow of the Moon racing along a path across the United States at about 1,500 miles per hour. In fact, the dark lunar shadow is centered over Hopkinsville, Kentucky at 1:25:30 Central Daylight Time. From there, the New Moon blocked the Sun high in clear skies for about 2 minutes and 40 seconds in a total solar eclipse. via NASA

Panoramic Eclipse Composite with Star Trails

What was happening in the sky during last week’s total solar eclipse? This featured little-planet, all-sky, double time-lapse, digitally-fused composite captured celestial action during both night and day from a single location. In this 360×180 panorama, north and south are at the image bottom and top, while east and west are at the left and right edges, respectively. During four hours the night before the eclipse, star trails were captured circling the north celestial pole (bottom) as the Earth spun. During the day of the total eclipse, the Sun was captured every fifteen minutes from sunrise to sunset (top), sometimes in partial eclipse. All of these images were then digitally merged onto a single image taken exactly during the total solar eclipse. Then, the Sun’s bright corona could be seen flaring around the dark new Moon (upper left), while Venus simultaneously became easily visible (top). The tree in the middle, below the camera, is a Douglas fir. The images were taken with care and planning at Magone Lake in Oregon, USA. via NASA