at the observatory

Northeastern Europe

The Copernicus Sentinel-3 satellite takes us over the Baltic Sea and surrounding countries.

Snow, ice and clouds dominate the image, providing us with an overall view of the area’s climate when this image was captured on 6 March. Sentinel-3 offers a ‘bigger picture’ for Europe’s Copernicus programme by systematically measuring Earth’s oceans, land, ice and atmosphere to monitor and understand large-scale global dynamics.

Finland is positioned at the centre of the image. The country has been called the ‘land of a thousand lakes’ – most of which are covered by ice and snow in this image.

To its west is the Gulf of Bothnia, the northernmost arm of the Baltic Sea separating part of Finland from Sweden. Clouds on the lower left obstruct our view of the Swedish capital, Stockholm.

In the upper left we can see part of Norway’s coastline with its famed fjords. During the ice age, ice and rivers carved deep valleys in the mountains. As the climate changed, most of the ice melted and the valleys were gradually filled with salt water from the coast, giving birth to the fjords.

Russia dominates the right side of the image with the ice-covered Lake Onega and partially covered Lake Ladoga.

Estonia is visible in the lower-central part of the image with significantly less snow cover, but with large areas of ice along its coast and on Lake Peipus.

Copyright contains modified Copernicus Sentinel data (2017), processed by ESA

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Airglow waves. Do you you think our night sky is pitch black ? Have a look at this timelapse video. I captured it at Carnegie Las Campamas observatory. Those red waves are not clouds (!) - this is pretty intense airglow, which takes place in upper atmosphere. It’s very interesting to see how the waves move. While camera pans you will notice on the foreground both 6.5-m Magellan telescopes, as well as nicely setting Milky Way. I hope you’ll enjoy the view ! :) Music: “Airglow” by © Club 220

Our sun is dynamic and ever-changing. On Friday, July 14, a solar flare and a coronal mass ejection erupted from the same, large active region. The coils arcing over this active region are particles spiraling along magnetic field lines.

Solar flares are explosions on the sun that send energy, light and high-speed particles into space. Such flares are often associated with solar magnetic storms known as coronal mass ejections. While these are the most common solar events, the sun can also emit streams of very fast protons – known as solar energetic particle (SEP) events – and disturbances in the solar wind known as corotating interaction regions (CIRs).

Learn more HERE.

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The magnetic field lines between a pair of active regions formed a beautiful set of swaying arches, seen in this footage captured by our Solar Dynamics Observatory on April 24-26, 2017. 

These arches, which form a connection between regions of opposite magnetic polarity, are visible in exquisite detail in this wavelength of extreme ultraviolet light. Extreme ultraviolet light is typically invisible to our eyes, but is colorized here in gold. 

Take a closer look: https://go.nasa.gov/2pGgYZt

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Sunrise over the Mojave Desert and some amazing waving clouds in timelapse view, seen from Mt. Wilson, in the San Gabriel Mountains, California

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Images of the cosmos from the late 1950s and early 60s. Most are from the Mount Wilson and Palomar Observatories. Don’t get me wrong, I love all the high definition and detailed images coming out of Hubble and similar telescopes today, but there is something about these old photos. What they lacked in detail and resolution they made up for with wonder and mystery. Can you imagination how mind blowing these pictures would have been when they first came out of the developing tank in the 50′s?

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Cascading loops on the surface of the sun highlight an active region that had just rotated into view of our solar-observing spacecraft. We have observed this phenomenon numerous times, but this one was one of the longest and clearest sequences we have seen in years. 

The bright loops are actually charged particles spinning along the magnetic field lines! The action was captured in a combination of two wavelengths of extreme ultraviolet light over a period of about 20 hours. 

Take a closer look: https://sdo.gsfc.nasa.gov/gallery/potw/item/798

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Aurora, Luna and comet.

Shortly after sunset, whose glow is still visible in the background, Ingólfur Bjargmundsson snapped this image of the Aurora Borealis and comet Panstarrs. The comet is visible as a smudge above the sunset and below the right hand streamer of glowing charged particles that channel the energy of the solar wind down towards the surface. Barring the stars all the light in this image derives from Sol.

This image is part of the Astronomy Photographer of the Year exhibition at the Royal Observatory in Greenwich, London.

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Image credit: Ingólfur Bjargmundsson

Over a 22-hour period (May 2-3, 2017), strands of plasma at the sun’s edge shifted and twisted back and forth. In this close-up, the strands are being manipulated by strong magnetic forces associated with active regions on the sun. 

To give a sense of scale, the strands hover above the sun more than several times the size of Earth! The images were taken in a wavelength of extreme ultraviolet light. 

Learn more: http://go.nasa.gov/2qT2C4B

Credits: NASA/SDO

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Watch a massive cold spot grow and travel across the sun’s surface

  • From Earth, the sun looks small and calm. Up close, it’s anything but.
  • Fortunately, NASA has an excellent view of the sun’s surface through its Solar Dynamics Observatory, equipped with three different devices for measuring the sun’s activity.
  • Between July 5 and July 11, that orbiter caught incredible footage of a fast-growing tangle of magnetic fields on the sun’s surface. Read/Watch more (7/13/17)

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This composite image shows a coronal mass ejection, a type of space weather linked to solar energetic particles, as seen from two space-based solar observatories and one ground-based instrument. The image in gold is from NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory, the image in blue is from the Manua Loa Solar Observatory’s K-Cor coronagraph, and the image in red is from ESA and NASA’s Solar and Heliospheric Observatory.

Our constantly-changing sun sometimes erupts with bursts of light, solar material, or ultra-fast energized particles — collectively, these events contribute to space weather. A new study shows that the warning signs of one type of space weather event can be detected tens of minutes earlier than with current forecasting techniques – critical extra time that could help protect astronauts in space. 

Credits: NASA/ESA/SOHO/SDO/Joy Ng and MLSO/K-Cor