July 8, 2010

Sunspots and the weather


Sunspots NASAAlnetia K. Ewing writes from Towson: “It seems as if we are having an unusual number of severe storms this year all over the nation. I know that the 11-year sunspot cycle can cause this … Can you tell us … what other factors are involved?” Sunspot counts and solar activity are climbing out of an unusually long minimum toward a predicted maximum in 2013. But despite many attempts, scientists have failed to find reliable links between these cycles and terrestrial storms.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 6:00 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Space weather

April 16, 2010

500,000-mile blast erupts from the sun

Solar prominence

NASA's twin Stereo spacecraft, launched as a pair to keep watch over the sun, have captured a photo of one of the largest solar prominences ever witnessed by the agency's solar satellites. The huge loop of solar plasma is moving along lines of solar magnetism. It was photographed Monday and Tuesday. The sun is stirring to life again after one of the longest, quietest solar 'minimums" on record. You can read more about this event, here.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 3:45 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Space weather

May 29, 2008

Mars weather: Sunny and minus-22 degrees F.

 NASA/JPL/University of Arizona


The weather station aboard the NASA Mars Phoenix lander is up and running. Here's the NASA report on today's conditions:

"The weather at the Phoenix landing site on the second day following landing was sunny with moderate dust, with a high of minus 30 degrees Celsius (minus 22 degrees Fahrenheit) and a low of minus 80 (minus 112 degrees Fahrenheit)."

And we want to go there, why?

Here's more from the Canadians who built the station. And here's their weather page.


Posted by Frank Roylance at 6:17 PM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Space weather

July 29, 2005

Violent sunspots could affect spacewalkers

An active sunspot group that has been blasting solar particles into space from the far side of the sun, will soon be pointed more nearly in Earth's direction. Here's a movie of one of the eruptions, shot by NASA's Solar and Heliospheric Observatory. This one was directed away from the Earth. Those aimed at us, if they're powerful enough, can cause radio interference, satellite damage and disruptions of electrical power grids.

These "coronal mass ejections" can also be a radiation hazard for exposed astronauts. If the sunspots stay active, they could crimp NASA's plans for three upcoming spacewalks by Discovery astronauts.

The "extra-vehiclular activity" is currently planned for Saturday, Monday and Wednesday mornings. If solar storms threaten, NASA can be expected to cancel or postpone any spacewalks and order astronauts to take cover in well-shielded portions of the space station.

Speaking of the International Space Station, here's a cool picture of the station as it flew in front of the sun this week, as seen from Athens, Greece.

Posted by Admin at 6:04 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Space weather

February 25, 2005

Thunderstorms and lightning ... on Saturn !

NASA's Cassini spacecraft has captured images of a giant thunderstorm on Saturn. Lightning from the storm is producing static on radios on the spacecraft that are tuned in to the ringed planet. The storm has been dubbed "The Dragon Storm" because of the odd shape is takes in infrared images.

Posted by Admin at 2:37 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Space weather

January 27, 2005

Lunar astronauts at risk from solar storms

The proton storm that erupted from a giant sunspot last Thursday might have sickened or killed lunar astronauts had they been caught outside their habitats.

Fortunately, there are no astronauts on the moon right now. And the two-man crew of the International Space Station is well-sheltered from solar storms by the Earth's magnetic field. They were also able to take shelter in the well-shielded Russian service module Zvezda.

For more from NASA on how vulnerable our astronauts will be to nasty "space weather" when they return to the moon, click here.

Posted by Admin at 6:14 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Space weather
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About Frank Roylance
This site is the Maryland Weather archive. The current Maryland Weather blog can be found here.
Frank Roylance is a reporter for The Baltimore Sun. He came to Baltimore from New Bedford, Mass. in 1980 to join the old Evening Sun. He moved to the morning Sun when the papers merged in 1992, and has spent most of his time since covering science, including astronomy and the weather. One of The Baltimore Sun's first online Web logs, the Weather Blog debuted in October 2004. In June 2006 Frank also began writing comments on local weather and stargazing for The Baltimore Sun's print Weather Page. Frank also answers readers’ weather queries for the newspaper and the blog. Frank Roylance retired in October 2011. Maryland Weather is now being updated by members of The Baltimore Sun staff

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