Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Possible Aurora Tonight!

On Sunday, astronomers at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, using images from the SDO, discovered 4 large Coronal Mass Ejections on the surface of the sun. By pure chance, they're aimed directly at earth. Between this morning and tonight, we're getting blasted with streams of high-energy particles moving at 1.2 million miles per hour.

Not to worry. The Earth's thick atmosphere and powerful magnetosphere will prevent any dangerous radiation from hitting us. In fact, most of the radiation will be low-energy photons, with wavelengths between 450 and 650 nanometers. Conveniently, visible light.

In other words, we're getting an aurora tonight. The first two were at 0700 and 1700 UTC (Greenwich Mean Time) today; the next are at 0000 and 0600 UTC tomorrow morning. For those of you on the US east coast, that's 800 tonight and 200 tomorrow morning. It'll be visible down below 45° N.

And it's gonna be cloudly tonight. Bugger.


Laura said...

Three things I have to say:

1. That's totally awesome!
2. Frakin' clouds!
3. You just used the word "bugger". :D

themadengineer said...

That's totally awesome. Pity about the clouds.
If I manage to find my digital camera, I'll try to take pictures. (Don't count on it, though. The camera's been missing for six months now.)

fencer_22 said...

what about all the light pollution? I mean it looks like it's about to be dawn basically any hour of the night around my house.