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Anyone having news of events outside the earths gravity well, and not directly linked to other science topics, please place them here in this thread.

This can include comets, sunspots, and other misc. news.

For example here is something that is getting meteorologists hearts all aflutter: Massive Sunspot Rapidly Forming. Here is how the Weather Channel erroneously put out its 'so called' information:

Quote:According to a news release, scientists from NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory watched the sunspot rapidly grow on February 19 and 20. The agency says it could even be larger than six times the diameter of Earth "since the spot lies on a sphere not a flat disk."

Sun activity goes through cycles that stretch about 11 years. Currently the sun is moving toward the peak of a very energetic cycle which scientists expect to last through the middle of this year.

First of all, the sun is so huge that a spot just six times the size of the earth, is really quite small. Sunspots this size are very common. Unfortunately, 99% of 'low information' citizens don't know this.

Further, Sunspot Cycle 24(the one we are currently in) is anything "very energetic". In fact, it is downright placid, and I am being charitable here.

But lets move on to another site that is affiliated with NASA: Here is what they had to say.

Quote:CHANCE OF FLARES: New sunspot AR1678 has developed a delta-class magnetic field that harbors energy for strong explosions. NOAA forecasters estimate a 45% chance of M-flares and a 15% chance of X-flares during the next 24 hours. Solar flare alerts: text, voice.

What that really means is that we will almost certainly have a Class 'C' flare, at the least. But there is only a 45% chance of a Class 'M' flare. And get this, only a 15% of a Class 'X' flare, which is the biggest.

And on top of that, the flare is rapidly moving out of alignment with us, and may well be facing away when it erupts. The odds of unusual electromagnetic flux is less than good.

[Image: hmi200.gif]

But the Weather Channel, which has its hat resting on the AGW rack, knows that solar flares are associated with a warmer planet, and thusly, they are crossing their fingers and praying for an unusual burst.

I am not holding my breath here. S13
And here is something that is very nice to behold. Comet Lemmon is starting to put on a good show. As long as it doesn't come too close, we are going to be fine.

A GREEN LEMMON: At the moment there are three significant comets plunging toward the sun: Comet ISON, Comet Pan-STARRS, and Comet Lemmon. The most beautiful so far is this one:

[Image: greenbeauty2_strip.jpg]

"Comet Lemmon has a beautiful tail with lovely fine structure," says Phil Hart of Lake Eppalock, Victoria, Australia, who photographed it on Feb. 17th.

The comet is now slightly closer to the sun than Earth. Solar heating has turned it into a binocular object (magnitude +5.5 to +6) barely visible to the human eye, but dazzling through backyard telescopes, as shown in Hart's photo above.

Comet Lemmon's verdant color comes from two of the gases boiling off its nucleus: cyanogen (CN: a poisonous gas found in many comets) and diatomic carbon (C2). Both substances glow green when illuminated by sunlight in the near-vacuum of space.

The combination of its colorful atmosphere and filamentary tail make this comet visually striking. Ultimately, Comet Pan-STARRS and especially Comet ISON could surpass it, but for now the most beautiful comet in the solar system appears to be a green Lemmon.
When Comet HaleBopp came around in 1997-98 I had the 25" F5 Telescope to see it really well and so did the club members who looked through the scope.

This time around will have to attend the star party to see it through the scope now owned by the man I sold it to 3 years ago.

It should be great!
Here's the latest update on that possible horrendous solar storm that could have been crackling all over the News Media this weekend:

Quote:QUIET WEEKEND: With the departure of sunspot AR1678, solar activity has returned to low levels. NOAA forecasters estimate a 15% chance of M-class solar flares and a scant 1% chance of X-flares during the next 24 hours. Solar flare alerts: text, voice.

Global warming enthusiasts are almost certainly unhappy with this present sunspot cycle, which has been quite accurately predicted by AGW skeptics for some time now.
Comets mean one thing. Dragons!

Sunspots and eruptions are not noticeable unless they are aimed our way.
But as the sun rotates, don't all those fountains spew plasma and radiation our way at some point?
Ron, solar winds tend to radiate outward from the surface of the sun. If a flare happens on the other side of the sun, it radiates outward in that direction. That is why we are mainly concerned with flares that are facing us.
How long do those solar flares persist? And how long does it take the sun to rotate on its axis? According to Wickipedia, "At the equator the solar rotation period is 24.47 days." (Link: ) It is also noted in the article that different lattitudes of the sun rotate at somewhat different speeds, possible because the sun's body is a plasma, not a solid. But if a solar flare persists for more than three weeks, it is going to spray plasma and radiation in all directions around the sun.

From what I have seen, solar flares are usually measured in hours. So you may have a point about flares directed away from earth not affecting earth. However, how much difference is there between solar flares and sunspots--which can persist for much longer periods of time? Are not sunspots associated with increased plasma and radiation emitting from the sun?
Quote:At the equator the solar rotation period is 24.47 days.

Obviously, a typo. It is 24 hours, not days, this is how we get days and nights. S6
The solar rotationwhich is about 27.26 days and earth's rotation are quite different from each other. Ron is pretty much correct on that. His numbers are in Wikipedia, and the one I link to are from an extract. I'm not really certain which is closer to being right.

Oh, try this.

[Image: Sunrotation.GIF]
My bad...I was not sure if you guys believe in Earth rotating. S6
Yes, the rotation of the sun is measured as 24.47 days. I did quote that figure directly from Wickipedia. They list a number of references at the end of the article. Perhaps I also should have quoted the following sentence: "This is called the sidereal rotation period, and should not be confused with the synodic rotation period of 26.24 days." The synodic rotation takes into account the view from earth--while the earth is orbiting the sun, so a feature on the sun (like a sunspot) seems to take a couple of extra days to come back to the original position. Remember, the earth moves too, in the same direction as the sun's own rotation on its axis.
The other data necessary is the plane of the ecliptic and how far off the sunspot is to being on the same plane as the Earth. A minor variation will also create a miss.
Concerning those comets, here is a video showing two of them in the southern night sky.
This is interesting: Big Meteorite Discovered in Antarctica.

Quote:Meteorite hunters at the bottom of the world bagged a rare find this southern summer: a 40-pound (18 kilogram) chunk of extraterrestrial rock.

A team from Belgium and Japan discovered the hefty meteorite as the members drove across the East Antarctic plateau on snowmobiles. Initial tests show it is an ordinary chondrite, the most common type of meteorite found on Earth, Vinciane Debaille, a geologist from Université Libre de Bruxelles in Belgium, said in a statement.

"This is the biggest meteorite found in East Antarctica for 25 years," Debaille said. "This is something very exceptional. When you find such a meteorite on Earth, it means that when it was in the sky, it was much larger."

Talk about understatement. Of course its going to have been much bigger.

[Image: belare-2012-2013-samba-meteorite.jpg]

(Given that there is no such thing as Oort cloud in light of the recent discussions, there will be no comet.... but you can try looking for it just in case.)
And speaking of those nonexistent things called comets, from nowhere in particular: Newly Discovered Comet May Hit Mars: Watch for Two Others Near Earth.

Man, those things are coming out of the woodwork, aren't they? And speaking of the Oort Cloud, the math states that it is not only possible, but absolutely has to be out there, just as the Kuiper Belt mathematically must exist. The fact that we can't see all these comets still doesn't negate their possibility.

Ron actually didn't catch my irony/satire the other way when I stated that it was funny someone would have faith in something that has no real scientific proof of existence, but would question the existence of something the math states unequivocally has to be there. Imagine that? Selective faith is an interesting thing. S5
Comet Pan-STARRS

[Image: white_strip.jpg]
Comets are sooo cool. I was thinking about Hale-Bopp the other day and wishing we had another one to look up at. I'm looking forward to these new ones!

It'd also be really neat (both from a scientific and a KABOOM! point of view) if that one hit Mars. We'd lose everything we already have there though. Might be worth it if we could record the whole thing.
(03-05-2013, 06:09 PM)Pixiest Wrote: [ -> ]Comets are sooo cool. I was thinking about Hale-Bopp the other day and wishing we had another one to look up at. I'm looking forward to these new ones!

It'd also be really neat (both from a scientific and a KABOOM! point of view) if that one hit Mars. We'd lose everything we already have there though. Might be worth it if we could record the whole thing.

We only have one workable rover right now, and the odds of a comet actaully destroying it are negligible. But it would cause a "mell of a hess" on the planet, especially if it was anywhere the size of Shoemaker-Levy9, the one that hit Jupiter in 1994.

Hale-Bopp is a long period comet, originating from that "imaginary place" out beyond the outer planets, so its next return could be hundreds of years from now. It certainly was a spectacular one, that's for sure.
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