Friday, August 20, 2010


AURORAS UNDERFOOT: On August 13th a minor solar wind stream hit Earth's magnetic field. The impact did not trigger widespread displays of auroras on Earth, but the view from orbit was sublime:

NASA astronaut Doug Wheelock took the picture from the International Space Station and quickly tweeted it down to Earth, captioned by lyrics from the Don McLean ballad "Vincent" (aka "Starry Starry Night"). Note how the planet directly below the auroras is partially sunlit. The auroras are nevertheless visible against the black, starry backdrop beyond the planet's limb. The ISS is a nice place for sky watching!
Another solar wind stream is heading for Earth, due to arrive on August 24th (see "Coronal Hole," below). Stay tuned to
Wheelock's twitter feed for more aurora sightings from space.

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