Friday, September 22, 2017

Spacecraft Buzzes Earth En Route to Hazardous Asteroid


Source - Space Weather News for Sept. 21, 2017: http://spaceweather.com

SPACECRAFT BUZZES EARTH EN ROUTE TO ASTEROID: NASA's OSIRIS-REx spacecraft is going to fly past Earth on Sept. 22nd only 10,711 miles away. The daring maneuver will slingshot the probe toward Bennu, a large asteroid that could threaten our planet in the next century. OSIRIS-REx is going to take a closer look at this potentially hazardous space rock and, if all goes as planned, return samples of it to Earth. At closest approach, the spacecraft could become bright enough for advanced amateur astronomers to photograph using backyard telescopes.

Observing tips and more information are highlighted on today's edition of Spaceweather.com.
















 
Above: The ground track of OSIRIS-REx's Sept. 22nd flyby. During the hours around closest approach, the spacecraft should shine with as much reflected sunlight as a 9th to 11th magnitude star.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Big Picture Science for September 18, 2017 - Angles of a Hack
















Big Picture Science - Angles of a Hack

Changed your computer password recently?  We all try to stay one step ahead of the hackers, but the fear factor is increasing.  The risks can range from stolen social security numbers to sabotaging a national power grid.

Sixty years ago, when hacking meant nosing around the telephone network, it seemed innocent enough.  And not all modern hacking has criminal intent.  Today, there are biohackers who experiment with implanted electronic devices to improve themselves, and geoengineers who propose to hack the climate.  But in our efforts to cool an overheated planet, might we be going down a dangerous path?

In this second of two episodes on hacking, the modern variations of “hacking,” and their consequences. Plus: when does hacking a system improve it?

Guests:

Download podcast at - http://bigpicturescience.org/episodes/anglesofahack

You can listen to this and other episodes at http://bigpicturescience.org/, and be sure to check out Blog Picture Science, the companion blog to the radio show.

Morning Alignment of Planets


Source - Space Weather News for Sept. 16, 2017: http://spaceweather.com

MORNING ALIGNMENT OF PLANETS: Set your alarm for dawn. Three planets and the crescent Moon are gathering for a beautiful alignment in the eastern sky before sunrise. In the mornings ahead, the Moon will hop from Venus to Mars and Mercury, forming a series of beautiful conjunctions, while Venus has its own close encounter with bright blue star Regulus.

Visit Spaceweather.com for sky maps and more information.























Above: Morning planets over Gleichen, Alberta, photographed by Alan Dyer. Monitor the Realtime Space Weather Photo Gallery for more sightings.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Solar Wind Stream Sparks Geomagnetic Storm (G2-class)


Source - Space Weather News for Sept. 14, 2017: http://spaceweather.com

SOLAR WIND SPARKS GEOMAGNETIC STORM: Earth is entering a stream of high-speed solar wind flowing from a hole in the sun's atmosphere. First contact with the stream on Sept. 14th produced a moderately strong (G2-class) geomagnetic storm, ongoing at the time of this alert. If the storm continues, high-latitude sky watchers could see auroras after local nightfall on Sept. 14/15.

Visit Spaceweather.com for more information and updates.

















Above: Spaceweather.com reader Glen Wurden witnessed the onset of today's solar wind stream from the window seat of an airplane flying over Greenland. Monitor the RealtimeAurora Photo Gallery for more sightings.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Solar Flare Causes "Ground Level Event"


Source - Space Weather News for Sept. 12, 2017: http://spaceweather.com

GROUND LEVEL RADIATION EVENT: Sunday's powerful X8-class solar flare from departing sunspot AR2673 accelerated a swarm of protons toward Earth, producing a strong solar radiation storm and a "ground level event" (GLE). High-energy particles normally held at bay by Earth's atmosphere and magnetic field penetrated all the way to the ground on Sept. 10th. A leading analyst of GLEs says that radiation dose rates onboard commercial jets flying at high latitudes may have briefly doubled during the episode.

Learn more about GLEs and what caused this solar flare to be so effective on today's edition of Spaceweather.com























Above: The 'snow' in this Sept. 10th image from a coronagraph onboard the orbiting Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) is caused by a blizzard of energetic particles striking the spacecraft's digital camera. The solar radiation storm was so strong, some of these particles reached the surface of Earth. 

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Another Major Solar Flare on Sept. 10th


Source - Space Weather News for Sept. 10, 2017: http://spaceweather.com

ANOTHER X-CLASS SOLAR FLARE: Departing sunspot AR2673 erupted again on Sept.10th (1606 UT), producing a major X8-class solar flare. A moderately strong solar radiation storm is underway as protons accelerated by the blast swarm around our planet. Shortwave radio blackouts over the Americas and around Earth's poles have also been observed in the aftermath of the explosion.

Visit Spaceweather.com for updates and more information.















Above: The extreme ultraviolet flash from today's X8-class flare as seen by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory. More snapshots of the flare may be found in the Space Weather Photo Gallery.

Big Picture Science for September 11, 2017 - Plan of a Hack












Big Picture Science - Plan of a Hack

Long before cyber criminals were stealing ATM passwords, phone phreaks were tapping into the telephone system. Their motivation was not monetary, but the thrill of defeating a complex, invisible network. Today “hacking” can apply to cyberwarfare, biological tinkering, or even geoengineering.  Often it has negative connotations, but the original definition of “hacking” was something else.

In this first of two episodes on hacking, we look at the original practitioners – the teenagers and mavericks who hacked Ma Bell for thrills - and the difference between hacking for fun and for profit. 

Guests:

Download podcast at - http://bigpicturescience.org/episodes/planofahack

You can listen to this and other episodes at http://bigpicturescience.org/, and be sure to check out Blog Picture Science, the companion blog to the radio show.

Thursday, September 07, 2017

Geomagnetic Storm Warning


Source - Space Weather News for Sept. 7, 2017: http://spaceweather.com

GEOMAGNETIC STORM WARNING: A CME has just hit Earth's magnetic field (Sept. 7th at ~2300 UT). This is the debris from Wednesday's decade-class X9 solar flare. It arrived earlier than expected, confirming that the solar storm cloud is both fast and potent. The CME appears to contain strong south-pointing magnetic fields that typically do a good job of igniting geomagnetic storms. High-latitude sky watchers should be alert for auroras in bright moonlight.

Visit Spaceweather.com for updates and more information about this developing event



















Above: An outburst of Northern Lights over Tromso, Norway, on Sept. 5th (photo credit: Tom Arne Moldenaes). Tonight's display should be even better as Earth passes through the wake of a potent CME.  Monitor the Realtime Aurora Photo Gallery for sightings.

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

Major X-class Solar Flare


Source - Space Weather News for Sept. 6, 2017: http://spaceweather.com

X-CLASS SOLAR FLARE: On Sept. 6, 2017, at 12:02UT, active sunspot AR2673 unleashed an X9.3-class solar flare--the strongest solar flare in more than a decade. The explosion also hurled a CME into space, and possibly toward Earth. Analysis of the event is still underway.

Visit Spaceweather.com for updates and more information about the historical context of today's remarkable flare.














Above: The extreme UV flash from today's X9-class flare. Credit: Solar Dynamics Observatory

Tuesday, September 05, 2017

A Solar Storm is Coming


Source - Space Weather News for Sept. 5, 2017:  http://spaceweather.com

A SOLAR STORM IS COMING: Yesterday, during a flurry of M-class solar flares, sunspot AR2673 hurled a CME toward Earth. NOAA forecasters say the cloud is likely to arrive late on Sept. 6th, causing moderately-strong (G2-class) geomagnetic storms with isolated periods of strong (G3-class) storming on Sept. 6th and 7th.

Visit Spaceweather.com to view the aurora forecast and a movie of the CME leaving the sun.
















 

Above: The source of the incoming solar storm is huge sunspot AR2673, shown here in a Sept. 5th photo taken by amateur astronomer Philippe Tosi of Nîmes, France. An image of Earth was inserted for scale. More pictures of this sunspot may be found in the Space Weather Photo Gallery

Image credit:  Philippe TOSI on September 5, 2017 @ FRANCE - Nîmes

Sunday, September 03, 2017

Big Sunspots Facing Earth


Source - Space Weather News for Sept. 3, 2017: http://spaceweather.com

SUNSPOT GENESIS: Two big sunspot groups are now facing Earth. Behemoth AR2674 has been growing for days, while newcomer AR2673 has suddenly quadrupled in size, with multiple dark cores breaching the surface of the sun in just the past 24 hours. The rapid development of these regions could herald Earth-directed flares in the days ahead.

Visit Spaceweather.com for movies of sunspot genesis in action.

Big Picture Science for September 04, 2017 - Born Legacy













Big Picture Science - Born Legacy

ENCORE:  We know how the stars shine, but how do you make a star?  We take an all-night ride on a high-flying jet – an airborne observatory called SOFIA – to watch astronomers investigate how a star is born.

As for how the universe was born, we know about the Big Bang but modern physics suggests that similar cosmic explosions may be happening all the time, and even hint that we could – in principle – create a new universe in a laboratory.  What does this mean, and how could we do it?

From stars to universes, how it all came to be.

Guests:
  • Zeeya Merali – Journalist and editor for the Foundational Questions Institute, author of A Big Bang in a Little Room: The Quest to Create New Universes
  • Nick Veronico – Manager of SOFIA Communications for NASA Ames Research Center and Universities Space Research Association
  • Felix Reimann – Freelance photographer
  • Huub Rottgering – Director of Leiden Observatory, The Netherlands
  • Dietmar Lilienthal – Manager, DLR SOFIA Institute, Germany
  • Cornelia Pabst – Astronomer, Leiden Observatory, The Netherlands
  • Charlie Kaminski – Engineering and Maintenance Manager, SOFIA
  • David McAllister – Deputy Program Manager for Operations, SOFIA, NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center

This encore podcast was first released on 03/20/2017

Download podcast at - http://bigpicturescience.org/episodes/born-legacy

You can listen to this and other episodes at http://bigpicturescience.org/, and be sure to check out Blog Picture Science, the companion blog to the radio show.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

A New Kind of Upper Atmospheric Lightning?


Source - Space Weather News for August 31, 2017: http://spaceweather.com

A NEW KIND OF UPPER ATMOSPHERIC LIGHTNING? In recent years, photographers have catalogued a growing number of luminous forms apparently leaping up from the tops of thunderstorms. These so-called sprites, elves, gnomes, and trolls inhabit the upper atmosphere, reaching their weird-looking tendrils up toward space. On Aug. 14th, an amateur astronomer in New Mexico photographed a rare curving form of upper atmospheric lightning that has baffled experts in the field. Shaped like a funnel or a tornado, it might represent a new addition to the menagerie of sprites.

Read all about it on today's edition of Spaceweather.com























Image credit: Thomas Ashcraft 

Geomagnetic Storm Watch (G1-class)


Source - Space Weather News for August 30, 2017: http://spaceweather.com

GEOMAGNETIC STORM IN THE OFFING: A canyon-shaped hole has opened in the sun's atmosphere, and it is spewing a stream of high-speed solar wind toward Earth. NOAA forecasters say there is a 30% chance of polar geomagnetic storms (G1-class) when the gaseous material reaches our planet on August 31st. High-latitude sky watchers should be alert for auroras this Thursday and Friday.

Visit Spaceweather.com for photos and updates













Image Information: This canyon-shaped "coronal hole" is a region in the sun's atmosphere where the sun's magnetic field has opened up, allowing solar wind to escape.

Image Credit: NASA/SDO/Spaceweather.com 

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Big Picture Science for August 28, 2017 - Elements Never Forget













Big Picture Science - Elements Never Forget

ENCORE: It’s elementary, Watson.  Things are in flux – from the elements in the air you breathe to party balloons.   We investigate the massive, historic loss of nitrogen from the atmosphere and meet the culprits behind a modern-day helium shortage.

But it’s not all a disappearing act: be thankful that oxygen showed up in our atmosphere a few billion years ago.  Meanwhile, atom smashers have recently produced some new elements.  Their appearance was brief, but long enough to fill out the periodic table.

And perhaps the tastiest use of an element – one that gives Seth a chilly reception.

Guests:

This encore podcast was first released on 6/20/2016

Download this podcast at - http://bigpicturescience.org/episodes/elements-never-forget

You can listen to this and other episodes at http://bigpicturescience.org/, and be sure to check out Blog Picture Science, the companion blog to the radio show.