The meteor visuals are oversaturatingly awesome— in a tsunami, wrath-of-God sense.
But the best for me still are the sounds— the main report and the lonnnnnng rolling thunder after. The first time I heard it, I thought stuff must be exploding near the videographer. It’s been all the videos I’ve seen since; I think the individual chunks of airburst must be popping off like corn.
I haven’t seen any great stills of 2012 DA14 yet, but here’s a pretty nice video from amateur Italian astronomers:
Mindlessly scrolling the BBC News page, I noticed this little gem of a headline mere pixels above the page’s distant lower end:
Earth-sized planets ‘very common’
Here’s an article on Wired’s Science blog about it. I hope everybody kept their Drake equations in pencil.
Did you know that they’ve directly imaged exoplanets already?
55 Astronomical Units is farther out than Pluto— and 70 parsecs is about half the distance from here to the North Star. Lame analogy on the distance, I know, but I came up empty trawling the Internet for a better one and got far too distracted when I found this website with a table of “50 exoplanetary systems within 65 light years (20 parsecs):”
Meanwhile, back on Original Style Earth, Sam’s new phone just made a foreign sound that filled her with terror. I hope she didn’t let slip a “Code zero zero zero. Destruct. Zero.”
Last night, as the sun went down on Sam and I’s Perseid perch, I tried guessing where on our eastern skyline the sun was going to rise. I had thought the Perseids would be the astronomical wonder of the night; I had no idea the Stonehenge-like precision I was in for.
After rousing a somnolent Sam, we headed east for an odd view of Interstate 5 near Alger.
On the way down, I stopped the car to check a tall till outcrop for, I don’t know, mammoth teeth. Sam told me she heard a menacing dog nearby; I told her it was a squawking bird in the tree above. She told me it was probably a killdeer and that I was harassing their ground-based nest. I snarked back that it sounded like my bigger threat was a kill-joy. Two big dogs came bounding out of the underbrush fifteen meters distant, teeth bared and snarling. I raised my rock hammer to a defensive position and they retreated back into the bushes while I returned to the car, appropriately cowed.
She found this guy and a friend waiting on our porch at home for us. I think I’m going to name him Odin.
Here’s another cool movie of the recent complex solar eruption.
For the post I put up the other day about it, I uploaded a video from NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory that I couldn’t find on YouTube yet. This morning, I got this email from everyones’ friends in Mountain View:
Your video August 1 Coronal Mass Ejection might be eligible for the YouTube Partnership Program, which allows you to make money from playbacks of your video.
Making money from your video is easy. Here’s how it works: First sign into your YouTube account. Then, review and complete the steps outlined here…
…If your video is approved, we’ll start placing ads next to the video and pay you a share of the revenue as long as you meet the program requirements.
We look forward to adding your video to the YouTube Partnership Program.
Thanks and good luck!
The YouTube Team
First time I’ve had something get enough hits to trigger their automatic moneygrubber— it’s an odd feeling. Kind of makes me feel like I need a shower. Video’s ineligible anyway, I think, since it’s publicly (i.e., government) produced footage.
Keep your eyes peeled tonight and tomorrow for more aurora! The second, slower coronal mass ejection is still arriving and I noticed earlier tonight that the Space Weather Prediction Center has extended its geomagnetic storm watch through Friday. I’m heading to Eastern Washington this weekend and am hoping against hope the ionosphere is still willing to put on a show that far out.
Oh and, here’s what Monetitizing looks like, if you were wondering:
Here’s a graph of 5-minute averaged gross X-ray flux for the past couple days from the GOES satellite. Basically, it’s a graph of energy in certain wavelength bands being emitted by the Sun :
It’s logarithmic, but don’t worry about that if you don’t understand it. The letters on the right are the weight classes for coronal mass ejections, or solar flares. As and Bs are your intercontinental phone line static and X is your transformers-exploding geomagnetic superstorm.
The other day, there was a C3 class flare from Earth-facing sunspot 1092. It’s a pretty moderate size as these things go, but probably just enough to touch off the Northern Lights. But here’s the cool part. The coronal mass ejection triggered a larger solar event, ripping a huge magnetic filament off with it. I think that’s the filament across the top in the image below from SOHO.
The filament is around half a million miles long— twice the distance between Earth and the Moon— and the whole damn thing took off with the flare and heaved straight for Earth.
Fingers crossed for dark clear skies— there oughta be one hell of an aurora at the least.
An ESA mission made a flyby of the largest asteroid yet visited by human spacecraft.
There’s some pretty cool pictures on the ESA website— but I wanted to show off something that caught even my sleepy eye. Check out these subparallel grooves from another set of Rosetta images:
It took some looking, but I eventually figured out where I’d seen those grooves before.
That’s Phobos— one of the moons of Mars. (It’s mostly visible light, if you’re wondering; some near-infrared as well). You can see those same sorts of grooves, which used to be blamed on Stickney Crater, which the big dimple near the bottom right— those are landslides on its crater rim! A 2006 paper mapped them to show the grooves fall into 12 general age groups and hypothesized they could represent scoring from regular deliveries of ejecta from impacts next door. But Lutetia is a wandering asteroid… what would score it with crater chains on a regular basis? The main belt is far too capricious a place to expect such precision. It’s not like the Empire Strikes Back in there.
There’s a partial lunar eclipse overnight— or rather in the very early morning.
It’ll be to the southwest and low to the horizon— sets up here right around 5 o’clock. Sam and I realized that’s only an hour before we’ve been getting up these days, so we’re going to make a go of it.