These images from the MAVEN Imaging Ultraviolet Spectrograph show the appearance of a bright aurora on Mars during a solar storm in September 2017. The purple-white colors shows the intensity of ultraviolet light on Mars’ night side before (left) and during (right) the event. Image credit: NASA/University of Colorado Boulder-LASP
When charged particles from a solar storm reached Mars this month, they set off an aurora 25 times brighter and surface level radiation readings twice as high as any previous measurements.
Here in Brisbane, Australia we celebrate the Spring Equinox today, 23rd September 2017.
Sunrise is at 05:36am and Sunset at 17:44pm, giving a duration of 12 Hours 07 Mins
It is also now springtime in Argentina, Chile, New Zealand and South Africa.
In addition to this, the Sun, Moon, Mercury, Mars and Venus all form a unique position today, while Jupiter appears to ‘emerge’ from the Virgo constellation. This has given rise to speculation by many, mostly either religious people or believers in the imminent return of planet Nibiru, that this is to be a significant day. At the time of writing, midday on the 23rd, the day is so far non-eventful here in the southern hemisphere, other than being more like summer than spring. However, the North Korean leader is sitting poised with his finger on yet another rocket launcher, so I won’t speak too soon. Let’s pray nothing adverse occurs.
Note: Equinoxes occur on 20th or 21st March and 22nd or 23rd September each year and both days have equal length of day and night. They happen when the tilt of the Earth’s axis is inclined neither away from nor towards the Sun. During Equinoxes the tilt of the Earth (with respect to the Sun) is 0°, resulting in the duration of day and night being almost equal.
Credit for top image: https://localtvwhnt.files.wordpress.com/2017/03/vernal-equinox-first-day-of-spring-explainer.png
Massive sunspots and huge solar flares mean unexpected space weather for Earth.
If you still have your solar viewing glasses from the eclipse, now is a good time to look up at the sun. You’ll see two big dark areas - these massive sunspots are regions of intense and complicated magnetic fields that can produce solar flares.
These two huge sunspots are currently causing quite a bit of interest. The solar storms they’ve sent toward Earth may affect communications and other technologies like GPS and radio signals. They’re causing amazing displays of the Northern and Southern Lights. The sun goes through 11-year cycles of solar activity. What scientists call a solar maximum is the time in the cycle when the sun is putting out the most energy. The number of sunspots varies over the years, but you’d expect to see more during solar maxima and fewer during solar minima.
Credit for top image: Both sunspots are visible on the sun’s surface, as well as the flare in the solar atmosphere. NASA/GSFC/SDO, CC BY
The Sun erupted in an absolutely massive solar flare this week, so big that it knocked out high-frequency radio here on Earth, and degraded low-frequency navigation.
The particles from the coronal mass ejection (CME) can also cause aurora activity as they interact with Earth's magnetosphere, so keep your eyes on the skies. They should be arriving within a few days.
Actually, it spat out two X-class flares, on the morning of 6 September EDT. These are the biggest class of solar flare there is, and the largest explosions in our solar system, with loops of plasma tens of times the size of the Earth.
The first one came in at X2.2 at 5.10am EDT. Then, just a few hours later at 8.03am, it dropped a monster X9.3 flare, the largest since 2005. Both flares erupted from an active region called AR 2673, which also produced an M-class flare a few days ago. Of the two sunspot regions currently active, both flares came from the smaller - a size of just 7 Earths by 9 Earths.
Meanwhile the flare produced by the M5.5 ejection on September 4, 2017 arrived at the DSCOVR spacecraft on September 6 at 23:08 UTC and at Earth 30 minutes later. The impact did not spark a geomagnetic storm, but the potential still exists as the CME continues passing over Earth.
This solar cycle, the Sun's 11-year periodic activity cycle, began in 2008. It has been unusually quiet, with very low sunspot activity. But although we're moving into solar minimum, the quietest period of the cycle, activity can – and obviously still does - occur.
How long sunspots last varies. The longest-lived sunspot on record hung around for six months, so it's entirely possible we haven't heard the last from AR 2673.
Credit for top image: https://nexusnewsfeed.com/article/science-futures/the-sun-just-erupted-the-biggest-solar-flare-in-12-years-and-it-has-affected-earth/
The Full Moon will be at 07:04 UTC on September 6, 2017.
The New Moon will be on September 20 when the Earth, Moon and Sun all lie in a roughly straight line, with the Moon in the middle, appearing in front of the Sun's glare.
The Equinox will be on September 22 the Sun will be above the horizon for exactly half the time, everywhere on Earth, the official start of Spring here in Australia.
Monthly highlights, reposted from Source: American Meteor Society, In The Sky by Dominic Ford, include:
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Paul V Young is a freelance writer based in Brisbane, Australia. His articles appear in magazines such as New Dawn and Atlantis Rising.