Archive - March 2012

Huge Sunspot…


Active sunspot AR1429 continues to grow. It is now more than seven times wider than Earth, which makes it an easy target for backyard solar telescopes. In fact, yesterday, David Tremblay of Alto, New Mexico, saw it using no telescope at all. All he needed was a dust storm:

“The dust blowing from Tularosa Basin was so dense, we could observe the sun with the naked eye–and there was sunspot AR1429. Wow!” says Tremblay.

The behemoth spot has unleashed four strong flares since it emerged on the 2nd March, including the X5-class eruption on the 7th  March. More could be in the offing. The active region has a “beta-gamma-delta” class magnetic field that harbors energy for additional X-class eruptions.

The Square Kilometre Array (SKA) ”Worlds Largest Telescope”


If there are space invaders out there, it won’t be long before they can no longer stage a sneak attack, thanks to a project to build the most sensitive radio telescope ever — one that’s the size of a continent.

Known as The Square Kilometer Array (SKA), it will explore the universe, identify any potential alien threats to our planet and hopefully answer some fundamental questions from astronomers. Its thousands of receptors, spaced roughly one kilometer apart, will be linked across an entire continent.

They’ll be arranged in five spiral arms like a galaxy, 3,000 50-foot-wide dishes that extend out from a central core at least 1,860 miles (3,000 kilometers).

Amazing aurora light show


Amazing aurora light show above Faskrudsfjordur, Iceland yesterday (8th March).

This was captured by Jónína Óskarsdóttir, who said that, “No words can describe the experience of the northern lights show tonight.”

The exposure time for the photo was 1 second.

Space Storm Could Hit GPS Systems And Flights


The biggest space weather storm in five years is heading towards Earth and could disrupt power grids, GPS systems, satellites and airline flights, Nasa has warned.

In a statement on its website, the US space agency said the storm was caused by two solar flares that erupted on Sunday. Following the flares, two bursts of solar wind and plasma – known as a coronal mass ejection (CME) – were thrust towards Earth. This eruption hurled a bright CME into space, shown here in a movie from the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory

“The first is traveling faster than 1,300 miles per second; the second more than 1,100 miles per second,” the statement added.

The brunt of the storm is expected to last until Friday.

Astronauts aboard the International Space Station could also be affected by the radiation storm, which may cause them to seek shelter in better protected parts of the orbiting lab as they have in the past.

“Flight surgeons in Houston’s mission control centre have been monitoring the solar activity and will continue to do so,” Nasa spokesman Mike Curie said.

“They have determined that there presently is no concern for the six crew members aboard the International Space Station.”

Space storms are not new. The first major solar flare was recorded by British astronomer Richard Carrington in 1859.

Other solar geomagnetic storms have been observed in recent decades. One huge solar flare in 1972 cut off long-distance telephone communication in the US state of Illinois.

Queens Jubilee Qsl orders begin….


Well with the NOV’s now available from OFCOM, it looks like the Queens Jubilee and the Olympic Games special event stations will be choking the HF Bands (lets hope!).

Several Qsl card orders have now been made from Gennady UX5UO (via me) and the special low costs and batch sizes are proving popular. As well as the normal 1000 card price he now offers the cards in batches of 500, 250 and 100pc’s for most of the styles he produces.

If you want advice or information please contact M0OXO or UX5UO.

Flying through a Geomagnetic Storm


Glowing green and red, shimmering hypnotically across the night sky, the aurora borealis is a wonder to behold.  Longtime sky watchers say it is the greatest show on Earth.

It might be the greatest show in Earth orbit, too. High above our planet, astronauts onboard the International Space Station (ISS) have been enjoying an up-close view of auroras outside their windows as the ISS flys through geomagnetic storms.

Lately, the International Space Station has been flying through geomagnetic storms, giving astronauts an close-up view of the aurora borealis just outside their windows.

Auroras are caused by solar activity.  Gusts of solar wind and coronal mass ejections strike Earth’s magnetic field, rattling our planet’s protective shell of magnetism. This causes charged particles to rain down over the poles, lighting up the atmosphere where they hit.  The physics is akin to what happens in the picture tube of a color TV.

Incoming particles are guided by Earth’s magnetic field to a pair of doughnut-shaped regions called “auroral ovals.”  There’s one around the North Pole and one around the South Pole.  Sometimes, when solar activity is high, the ovals expand, and the space station orbits right through them.

That’s exactly what happened in late January 2012, when a sequence of M-class and X-class solar flares sparked a light show that Pettit says he won’t soon forget. “The auroras could be seen as brightly as city lights on the Earth below–and even in the day-night terminator of the rising and setting sun. It was simply amazing.”

The videos capture the full range of aurora colors—red, green, and many shades of purple.  These hues correspond to different quantum transitions in excited atoms of oxygen and nitrogen.  The precise color at any altitude depends on the temperature and density of the local atmosphere.

World’s tallest self-supporting communications tower


Construction of the Tokyo Sky Tree, the world’s tallest self-supporting communications tower, is set to finish Wednesday, two months late because of the quake and tsunami that struck Japan last March.

Tourist bosses in the country hope the tower will be a big draw for foreign visitors, whose numbers have plummeted in the aftermath of the disaster and the nuclear crisis it sparked.

Construction of the 634-metre (2080-foot) tower near the already popular Asakusa traditional district on Tokyo’s eastern side, began in July 2008. The Tokyo Sky Tree tops the 600-metre Canton Tower in China’s Guangzhou and the 553-metre CN Tower in downtown Toronto.

Some 580,000 construction workers were engaged in the construction, which cost 65 billion yen ($806 million) for the tower alone, the spokeswoman said.

The Tokyo Sky Tree is expected to overshadow landmarks in the capital’s upscale western parts, including the 333-metre Tokyo Tower, which was built in 1958 and became a byword in Japan for the country’s rapid post-war growth.