solar storms

Америка нашла Ивана  — @libertysboy

“If you’ve followed me to annoy me, I should remind you shovels are good in cars. Both for Winter and burying annoyances who follow you into the woods.”

Ivan didn’t even look up, carefully unpacking his camera and tripod in the quickly fading sunlight, “There was a solar storm. The skies will be dancing tonight, maybe tomorrows as well. You are welcome to stay if you do not break anything,”

Chasing Storms at 17,500mph

Flying 250 miles above the Earth aboard the International Space Station has given me the unique vantage point from which to view our planet. Spending a year in space has given me the unique opportunity to see a wide range of spectacular storm systems in space and on Earth. 

The recent blizzard was remarkably visible from space. I took several photos of the first big storm system on Earth of year 2016 as it moved across the East Coast, Chicago and Washington D.C. Since my time here on the space station began in March 2015, I’ve been able to capture an array of storms on Earth and in space, ranging from hurricanes and dust storms to solar storms and most recently a rare thunder snowstorm.

Blizzard 2016

Hurricane Patricia 2015

Hurricane Joaquin 2015

Dust Storm in the Red Sea 2015

Dust Storm of Gobi Desert 2015

Aurora Solar Storm 2015

Aurora Solar Storm 2016

Thunderstorm over Italy 2015

Lightning and Aurora 2016

Rare Thunder Snowstorm 2016

Follow my Year In Space on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.


No batteries required!

Check out these photos taken around Alaska during spectacular solar storms. “When I’m witnessing a really incredible aurora, its something close to what many people might consider a religious experience.” -Ben Hattenbach in the BLM film, Arctic Visions and Voices.

Plan your visit to see Aurora Borealis in the Arctic:

The Transit of Venus

The transit of Venus across the Sun takes place when the planet Venus passes directly between the Sun and a Earth. This last occurred in early June of 2012 and lasted about 6 and a half hours. The transits of Venus are incredibly rare and occur in a pattern that generally repeats every 243 years.

Credit: NASA/EarthSky/University of Arizona

The details of Jupiter are pretty insane, right?

These super cool structures on the largest planet in our Solar System are storms: when they occur, elements like phosphorous and sulfur are brought to the top of the clouds that create Jupiter’s range of colors. White spots are supposedly cool storms, brown are warm and red are hot storms.

NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope recently published this new imagery and a 4k video featuring details never before seen. They reveal the Great Red Spot continues to shrink and become more circular. In addition, an unusual wispy filament is seen, spanning almost the entire width of the vortex.

Credits: NASA/ESA/Goddard/UCBerkeley/JPL-Caltech/STScI

The Cassini spacecraft looks down on the north pole of Saturn. The scene is serene only from a distance–raging storms are clearly visible in the atmosphere. In this image you can even make out Saturn’s hexagonal storm. The hexagonal vortex is about 20,000 miles (30,000 km) across and is a jet stream made up of 200 mph winds (322 km/h) surrounding a huge storm, Scientists have not found another weather feature exactly like this anywhere in the solar system.

(Credit: NASA / JPL / SSI / processed by Bill Dunford) 


Planet Neptune and its largest Moon Triton

Neptune is the outer most planet in our solar system; it orbits the sun with a radius of 2,798,000,000 miles. Neptune is the 4th largest planet by diameter, 3rd largest planet by mass and densest of all the gas giants. Neptune has a great dark spot similar to that of Jupiter. Both spots are Anticyclonic storms, meaning the winds around the storm flow opposite to the direction dictated by the Coriolis effect. However, unlike Jupiter’s spots, Neptune’s dark spots appear to only last a few years (as opposed to a few hundred) and have relatively calm and cloudless centers. Observations have shown that Neptune spends about the same amount of time with and without its largest dark spot. The storms activity seems to cyclical.

External image

Neptune has 14 moons, Triton is the largest and composes more than 99.5% of all the mass that orbits the planet. Triton is roughly the same size as our moon: (Neptune’s Triton vs Earth’s moon)

External image
Triton has a retrograde orbit around Neptune, meaning that it orbits in the opposite of the planet’s rotation.

These images were taken by the Voyager 2 space probe and the Hubble space telescope, with the exception of the last image being an artists impression of Neptune seen from its moon Triton.

Credit: NASA/Hubble/JPL/wikipedia


Ethereal views of Jupiter’s north and south pole

NASA’s Juno spacecraft has sent back images providing never-before-seen perspective on Jupiter’s north (1st image) and south pole (2nd image). The JunoCam instrument acquired the views on August 27, 2016.

According to NASA, the download of 6 MB of data collected during the 6-hour transit, from above Jupiter’s north pole to below its south pole, took 1.5 days. While analysis of this first data collection is ongoing, some unique discoveries have already made themselves visible.

“First glimpse of Jupiter’s north pole, and it looks like nothing we have seen or imagined before,” said Scott Bolton, principal investigator of Juno from the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio. “It’s bluer in color up there than other parts of the planet, and there are a lot of storms. There is no sign of the latitudinal bands or zone and belts that we are used to – this image is hardly recognizable as Jupiter. We’re seeing signs that the clouds have shadows, possibly indicating that the clouds are at a higher altitude than other features.”

The down under is full of rotating storms of various sizes, similar to giant versions of terrestrial hurricanes, as well. You probably remember this image from the Cassini spacecraft, which observed most of the polar region as it flew past Jupiter on its way to Saturn in 2000. However, the south pole has never been seen from this viewpoint.

What’s more from this treasure trove of news is that along with JunoCam, all eight of Juno’s science instruments were collecting data. The Jovian Infrared Auroral Mapper (JIRAM), supplied by the Italian Space Agency, acquired some remarkable images of Jupiter at its north and south polar regions in infrared wavelengths. Here’s the southern aurora:

“These first infrared views of Jupiter’s north and south poles are revealing warm and hot spots that have never been seen before. No other instruments, both from Earth or space, have been able to see the southern aurora. Now, with JIRAM, we see that it appears to be very bright and well-structured. The high level of detail in the images will tell us more about the aurora’s morphology and dynamics,” said Alberto Adriani, JIRAM co-investigator from Istituto di Astrofisica e Planetologia Spaziali, Rome.

Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS
Original articles: 1, 2


UK Solar Eclipse - 20th March 2015

On Friday the UK will experience an almost full solar eclipse for 2.30mins. Certainly something I’ve yet to see in my lifetime and one that won’t again be as impressive in the UK until 2090.

I will be up in the Malvern Hills to photograph this celestial event and recreate the top image which I shot on the 26th December back in 2013.

Freddie Ardley Photography

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Jupiter’s Great Red Spot

  • Jupiter’s Great Red Spot (GRS) is an atmospheric storm that has been raging in Jupiter’s southern Hemisphere for at least 400 years.
  • About 100 years ago, the storm covered over 40,000 km of the surface. It is currently about one half of that size and seems to be shrinking. 
  • At the present rate that it is shrinking it could become circular by 2040. The GRS rotates counter-clockwise(anti-cyclonic) and makes a full rotation every six Earth days. 
  • It is not known exactly what causes the Great Red Spot’s reddish color. The most popular theory, which is supported by laboratory experiments, holds that the color may be caused by complex organic molecules, red phosphorus, or other sulfur compounds. 
  • The GRS is about two to three times larger than Earth. Winds at its oval edges can reach up to 425 mph (680 km/h) 
  • Infrared data has indicated that the Great Red Spot is colder (and thus, higher in altitude) than most of the other clouds on the planet


A great pic of northern lights from Tumblr Campbench who writes:

ONE of the photos I snapped this evening. It started around 9:30pm (central time) but died soon after. It started up again around midnight and set the sky on fire. I have never before seen the lights this bright and this moving! “Waves” of what I can assume were electro-magnetic in origin would pulsate across the sky. It was definitely one of the most awesome experiences with nature I have ever had (and well worth the frostbite)!
Taken on Lake Superior, Duluth, MN.

I will post more photos to my blog when I get the chance.

(Update: also, check out the Campbench Tumblr. There are more great pics there and more to come later!)


As Seen by STEREO-A: The Carrington-Class CME of 2012

STEREO (Solar TErrestrial RElations Observatory) is a solar observation mission, it consists of two space-based observatories - one ahead of Earth in its orbit (STEREO-A), the other trailing behind (STEREO-B). The two nearly identical spacecraft were launched in 2006 into orbits around the Sun that cause them to respectively pull farther ahead of and fall gradually behind the Earth. This enables stereoscopic imaging of the Sun and solar phenomena, such as coronal mass ejections.

STEREO-A, at a position along Earth’s orbit where it has an unobstructed view of the far side of the Sun, could clearly observe possibly the most powerful coronal mass ejection (CME) of solar cyle 24 on July 23, 2012. The flare erupted in the lower right quadrant of the solar disk from a large active region. The material launched into space in a direction towards STEREO-A. This created the ring-like ‘halo’ CME visible in the STEREO-A coronagraph, COR-2 (blue circular image). As the CME expanded beyond the field of view of the COR-2 imager, the high energy particles reached STEREO-A, and caused the snow-like noise in the image. Researchers have been analyzing the data ever since, and they have concluded that the storm was one of the strongest in recorded history. It might have been stronger than the Carrington Event itself.

The solar storm of 1859, also known as the Carrington Event, was a powerful geomagnetic solar storm in 1859 during solar cycle 10. A solar flare or coronal mass ejection hit Earth’s magnetosphere and induced the largest known solar storm, which was observed and recorded by Richard C. Carrington. The intense geomagnetic storm caused global telegraph lines to spark, setting fire to some telegraph offices and disabling the 'Victorian Internet.“ A similar storm today could have a catastrophic effect on modern power grids and telecommunication networks.

Credit: NASA’s Scientific Visualization Studio