Sunday, August 15, 2004

Olympic Lighting

NASA's IMAGE spacecraft has sent back some spectacular photos, showing the effects of a coronal mass ejection from the Sun.  This resulted in abnormally large aurorae.  In this picture, you can see the aurora borealis and the aurora australis:

In this picture, you see the aurora auatralis:

The original story is here

Just in Time for Olympic Lighting, Sun Lights Up the Skies


On Friday, the Olympic flame in Athens will be lit after a global torch relay covering 27 countries and traveling a distance of about 48,000 miles (78,000 km) total. Particles from the Sun had to travel a little further - 93 million miles - to light up the skies in states like Iowa, Michigan, California, and New York. The bright auroras were the result of elevated activity on the Sun and some unusually large sunspots rotating toward Earth.

The coronal mass ejection (CME) blast that triggered the aurora took place around 10:45 am ET on July 25, traveling at roughly 1300 km per second. It took a day and a half to reach Earth, allowing NOAA to issue warnings to satellite and power grid operators. At 20 times the size of Earth, the originating sunspot was the largest seen since the fall solar storm onslaught.

The NASA site (link above) contains links for high-resolution versions of these pictures.  More eye candy  is seen courtesy of weather satellites:

ISS, SeaWiFS images of tropical weather

With the Atlantic Hurricane season off to a busy start, we're watching the stormy weather as only NASA can. Tropical Storm Bonnie, top, churns away in the Gulf of Mexico, as viewed from the International Space Station about 230 miles above the Earth. In the bottom image, both Bonnie and Hurricane Charley in the Caribbean Sea can be seen in a true color image from the The SeaWiFS instrument onboard the OrbView-2 satellite. Both photos were taken on Wednesday, August 11.