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THE PERSEID METEOR SHOWER: Perseid meteor rates are swiftly increasing as Earth approaches a dense stream of debris from parent Comet Swift-Tuttle. If forecasters are correct, the shower will peak on Aug. 12-13, almost perfectly coinciding with a Full Moon. Bright moonlight will overwhelm many faint meteors, but there should still be plenty of Perseid fireballs. Enjoy the show:observing tips, photo gallery.
A NEW FORM OF SPACE WEATHER ON BETELGEUSE: You’ve heard of a CME, a “coronal mass ejection.” They happen all the time. A piece of the sun’s tenuous outer atmosphere (corona) blows off and sometimes hits Earth. Something far more terrible has happened to Betegeuse. The red giant star produced an SME, or “surface mass ejection.”
On July 9, 1962, the US military detonated a thermonuclear warhead 250 miles above the Pacific Ocean–a test called “Starfish Prime.” What happened next surprised everyone. Witnesses from Hawaii to New Zealand reported auroras overhead, magnificent midnight “rainbow stripes” that tropical sky watchers had never seen before. Radios fell silent, then suddenly became noisy as streetlights went dark in Honolulu.
- Cosmic Rays Solar Cycle 25 is beginning, and this is reflected in the number of cosmic rays entering Earth’s atmosphere. Neutron counts from the University of Oulu’s Sodankyla Geophysical Observatory show that cosmic rays reaching Earth are slowly declining–a result of the yin-yang relationship between the solar cycle and cosmic rays.
SUNSPOT SUNSETS: Solar Cycle 25 is changing the way sunsets look. It is adding some spots. “Active sunspot complex AR2993-94 was visible yesterday at sunset,” says Marek Nikodem, who sends this picture from Szubin, Poland: