Space Weather News for December 1, 2005

EXPANDING SUNSPOT: In a span of only 24 hours, sunspot 826 has grown from a barely-visible speck into a Saturn-sized active region, and it is still growing. This large sunspot is crackling with low-level solar flares and may soon pose a threat for a major eruption. Readers who own a safely-filtered solar telescope will want to monitor this sunspot; it is changing by the hour. Or visit to view up-to-date images and movies.

BRIGHT VENUS: Venus is approaching Earth and reaches its peak brightness during the first weeks of December. It is is visible in broad daylight (if you know where to look) and at night it is actually casting shadows. The next few moonless nights are good times to look for delicate Venus shadows. Visit for observing tips and more information.


We got up at 5 a.m. this morning and were rewarded with a good, clear view of the the eclipse of the Hunter’s moon. It was just a partial, but it was still nice to see. The dogs thought we were a little weird for getting up that early, but they adjusted.

I tried to take a picture of the Harvest moon last night, it was so huge on the horizon – but we ended up somewhere too sheltered, and by the time we were finished with dinner the moon was up higher and just looked like any other full moon.

Maybe next year….

partial eclipse in October

Getting a little perspective

Can’t quite reconcile the incredible smallness of the atom with the mind-boggling vastness of space? Here is some visual help, courtesy of Dr. Michael W. Davidson and the Optical Microscopy Division of the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory, a joint venture of the Florida State University, the University of Florida, and the Los Alamos National Laboratory.

Just click the link below and you’ll be whisked away to deep space, then brought gradually back to Earth, then reduced, step by step, to a subatomic quark. It’s educational, fun, and oh so humbling.

Put your life in galactic and subatomic perspective now:

From Knowledge News today

Auroras at Midnight

Space Weather News for Sept. 14, 2004

Sunspot 798/808 flared twice more yesterday, and at least one of the X-class explosions propelled a coronal mass ejection (CME) toward Earth. NOAA forecasters estimate a 70% chance of severe geomagnetic activity when the CME arrives–perhaps tonight, Sept. 14-15. Sky watchers at all latitudes should be alert for auroras.

Observing tips: Although auroras are sometimes bright enough to shine through city lights, you’ll see more from a dark-sky site in the countryside. The best time to look is usually during the hours around local midnight.

Visit for more information and updates.

Aurora Watch

Space Weather News for Monday, May 30, 2005

AURORA WATCH: An ongoing geomagnetic storm could spark auroras tonight bright enough to see with the unaided eye from, e.g., Canada and northern-tier US states such as Maine and Wisconsin and Washington. Dim “photographic auroras” (visible to the camera, but not to the eye) could descend to even lower latitudes. Visit for updates.

THE MOON AND MARS: On Tuesday morning, May 31st, the Moon and Mars will have a beautiful close encounter in the early morning sky. To see them, look east about an hour before dawn. Mars, nestled close to the Moon, is almost twice as bright as a first magnitude star.