Astronomy Picture of the Day – Aurora in the Backyard

Astronomy Picture of the Day

Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.

2015 August 4

Aurora in the Backyard
Image Credit & Copyright: P-M Hedén (Clear Skies, TWAN)

 

Explanation: On the night of March 17/18 this umbrella of northern lights unfolded over backyards in Vallentuna, Sweden about 30 kilometers north of Stockholm. A result of the strongest geomagnetic storm of this solar cycle, auroral displays were captured on that night from back and front yards at even lower latitudes, including sightings in the midwestern United States. A boon for aurora hunting skywatchers, the space storm began building when a coronal mass ejection, launched by solar activity some two days earlier, struck planet Earth’s magnetosphere. So what’s the name of the backyard observatory on the right of the wide field view? That’s Carpe Noctem Observatory, of course.

Astronomy Picture of the Day for Sept. 28th – Violent Sunspot

Astronomy Picture of the Day

Discover the cosmos!Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.

2011 September 28

Violent Sunspot Group AR 1302 Unleashes a Flare
Image Credit: jp-Brahic

 

 Explanation: One of the most active sunspot groups in years is currently crossing the Sun. AR 1302 first came around the Sun’s edge last week and is so large it can be seen without a telescope. Coronal Mass Ejections from AR 1302 have already caused strong geomagnetic storms including notable aurora activity around both of Earth’s poles. Pictured above, plasma was left magnetically hanging above the Sun’s surface after AR 1302 emitted an X-class solar flare last Thursday. Earth is illustrated in the inset for a size comparison. Although another X-class flare was emitted on Saturday, no flares from AR 1302 have been aimed directly at the Earth, as yet. The AR 1302 sunspot group will continue to evolve but likely remain visible on the Sun for the next week.