Every so often, the sun burps with the power of 20 million nuclear bombs. These hiccups are known as coronal mass ejections (CMEs)—powerful eruptions near the surface of the sun driven by kinks in the solar magnetic field. The resulting shocks ripple through the solar system and can interrupt satellites and power grids on Earth. During a CME, enormous bubbles of superheated gas—called plasma—are ejected from the sun. Over the course of several hours, one billion tons of material are lifted off the sun’s surface and accelerated to speeds of one million miles per hour. This can happen several times a day when the sun is most active.
Polaris – the North Star – is like the hub of a wheel. It doesn’t rise or set – instead, it appears to stay put in the northern sky.
Do you – and your dog – have astraphobia?
Many people ask us about flashes in the night sky. They see one and want to know, what is it? Unless one of us were standing there next to you, we have no way of knowing exactly what you saw. So we can’t say for certain. But it’s possible that what you saw is a flare from an iridium communications satellite.
On May 14, 2015, the sun enters the constellation Taurus the Bull. Dates of sun’s entry into each zodiacal constellation and the corresponding ecliptic longitude (sun’s position in degrees, east of the March equinox point), inside.
You’ll know in 60 seconds. New Space Shorts video from NASA
Astrophotographer Göran Strand of Sweden kindly gave us permission to publish this photo, which a phenomenal double red rainbow. Details … inside.
Here’s your FAQ for this Friday ….
Light is the fastest-moving stuff in the universe. It travels at an incredible 300,000 kilometers (186,000 miles) per second. That’s very fast. A light-year is the distance light travels in one year. How far is that?
You’ve no doubt heard some star names such as Polaris the North Star – or Betelgeuse in the constellation Orion. But, although it’s also a star, our sun doesn’t have a generally accepted and unique proper name in the English language. Most of us just call it the sun.
Happy May Day!
May Day is an ancient spring festival in the Northern Hemisphere. It’s an astronomical holiday, one of the year’s four cross-quarter days, or day that falls more or less midway between an equinox and solstice.