Space Weather

I came across this website (link opens in a new window), via this other website (also opens in a new window) during a moment of leisurely browsing.

The first website is called SpaceWeather, and focuses on “news and information about the Sun-Earth environment”. It features a wealth of information about the weather in the Solar System and several high quality image archives of asteroids, aurora (Northern Lights), noctilucent clouds (a rare type of high altitude clouds that “glow” at night, without the help of light pollution) and eclipses. It also offers a nifty column on the left hand side for the curious to update themselves on matters such as current solar wind speed, coronal holes, interplanetary magnetic fields, and more.

The “other” website, Astronomy Picture of the Day, is a favourite of mine; it is simple, and “does what it says on the label”. Each day a new picture is uploaded, followed by a brief description written by a professional astronomer. No hidden quirks.

Mind you, I would particularly like to keep today’s picture- a wonderful shot of the 22nd July total eclipse, complete with explanation. No copyight infringement intended; click here to go to photographer’s website (new window also).

Solar Eclipse
Total eclipse over Chongqing, China, 22/07/2009 (Credit & Copyright: Stephan Heinsius)

“Explanation: The daytime sky grew dark, the temperature dropped, and lights came on as Chongqing, China, was plunged into the Moon’s shadow during the July 22nd total solar eclipse. This serene, wide-angle view of the event looks to the east over the large, populous city from a newly constructed park. Despite thin clouds, it captures the shimmering solar corona just before the end of the eclipse total phase. This total solar eclipse occurred near Aphelion, the point in Earth’s elliptical orbit farthest from the Sun, and so the Sun was near its smallest apparent size. It also occurred when the New Moon was near Perigee, the closest point to Earth in the Moon’s elliptical orbit, making the Moon near its largest apparent size. The small Sun and large Moon made this the longest solar eclipse of this century.”

Small bits of trivia perhaps, but they could make a big difference, if we find ways to harness the power behind these phenomena. Suggestions?


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