Wandering through E-Space

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"There's no point in being grownup if you can't be childish sometimes." -the 4th Doctor.

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My name is Romanadvoratrelundar, but the Doctor says it's too long, so you can just call me Romana.
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Wednesday, September 14, 2005

looking for northern lights...

D.W.Q.M.: Cornish: "Control to capsule: do you have visual contact?"
the Third Doctor: "Do you mean 'Can I see it'?"

'Go to bed, Ro!' I bet that's what most of you are saying if you see the time this was posted. ;) I know, I should get some sleep, especially since I nodded off during the Daily Show, but I just got a second wind, and am feeling a bit nerdy.

So I'm sitting hear after midnight, thinking about auroras, and wondering if I'd get the chance to see any tonight. Going back to the feeling nerdy part, I decided to write a bit about the likelyhood of us seeing auroral displays. The Space Environment Center has a handy page which gives some
aurora viewing tips.

Let's get technical...
Of course, location is a big part-and knowing your magnetic latitude helps. They have a chart with different cities, but unfortunately Cleveland is not listed, so I used their map to 'guestimate' our mag. lat: ~51.0. Minneapolis is 55.1.
Other factors are the Kp index (level of geomagnetic activity) and NOAA POES Aurora Activity Level(also measures geomagnetic activity). Kp index ranges from 0-9, and is used to refer to geomagnetic activity over a 3 hour period. Here's a link to SEC's
3-day Estimated Planetary Kp index monitor It updates every 3 hours. "Storm" levels (most likely to produce visible auroras) are considered to be at a Kp index of 5 or greater. Aurora Activity Level is measured on a scale of 1-10. (lowest-highest)

...I just realized that I'm getting way to technical for this time of night. So, in brief:
Cleveland's magnetic latitude: 51.0; Kp index: 8; NOAA POES Aurora Activity Level: 10.
Minneapolis (respectivly): 55.1; 6; 9.
(yup, my sister is more likely to see the northern lights than me. In fact, she delights in calling while looking at them. ;) )

Handy links:
Aurora viewing tips
NOAA POES Auroral Activity page (will show the most current activity level)
Northern Hemisphere Map
SEC's 3-day estimated planetary Kp index monitor
Solar Terrestrial Dispatch (space weather forcasting)

Of course, the easiest way is to just go outside and look to the north...provided it's dark enough where you live. ;)

BTW, in the time it took me to write up this post, the Activity level went from a 6 up to 7. :)

Ok, time now to catch some z's. ;)

*Edit:* The Activity level and Kp index numbers is not an 'either/or' type situation. Both numbers have to be at the level of your Mag. Lat. in order for potential aurora sightings. For example-the activity level reached 10 overnight, but the Kp index was only about a 5, so there was little chance of me spotting anything last night. (Cleveland's Kp is only at 8) However, if my sister had been just a little farther north, she might have been calling me at 4 in the morning to announce she was watching the northern lights. LOL ;)

There's a table at the end of the viewing tips page I linked to above that shows how the Kp and Activity level relate to each other. Have fun! :)
posted by Romana1 on 11:24 PM | *

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

September Night Sky

D.W.Q.M.: Duke Juliano: "There's this man in Florence claims that by arranging ground glasses in a certain order, it's possible to see the moon and stars as large as your hand."
Marco: "Is that a good thing?" (from the Fourth Doctor story, the Masque of Mandragora.)

Today's astronomy post is brought to you by
Sky and Telescope

Sunspots, solar flares and auroras
Ahhh, what an interesting couple of weeks the sun has had! Seven major X-class flares within the last few days. Region 808 will cross the center of the sun tomorrow, and, if it holds together, will reach the western limb around the 21st. I believe there is still a mid-latitude aurora watch in effect, so be on the look out for the Norhtern Lights, especially if 808 continues to produce solar flares and CMEs. Check out
this article for all the excitement, and the dangers, that a solar flare can produce. There's a really nice picture at the end of the article of an aurora display that was captured on the morning of September 11th in New Hampshire. :)

I popped outside while I was waiting for
Yahoo to load to see if I could see anything. No luck. *sigh* Stupid haze. ;)

The Moon and Planets
September 1st: Venus is 1 degree from Jupiter low in the western horizon one hour after sunset.
September 6th: Venus, Jupiter, and the thin crescent moon pose together in a triangle low after sunset. (I actually got to see this!!!!!) Just below Venus is the faint Spica.
September 7th: Crescent moon near Venus and Jupiter low in the west at dusk.

September 17th: Full Harvest Moon
September 21st: Moon near Mars after 10 pm

Awww...for now it looks like the discovery team for 2003 UB313 (
'the Tenth Planet' is calling it "Xena" (for the tv warrior princess.) Here I was hoping it would be called "Mondas". ;) :-D

Other events
September 12th: Cassiopeia is high in the northeastern sky-the signs of the coming fall...
September 22nd: The Autumnal Equinox occurs at 6:23pm, EDT.

This Day in Astronomy
September 1st, 1979: Pioneer 11 is the first spacecraft to fly by Saturn.
September 19th, 1959: Physicists Giuseppe Cocconi and Philip Morrison publish the first scientific article on searching for radio signals from extraterrestrial intelligent life.
September 23rd, 1846: Johann Galle discovers Neptune
September 28th, 1962 The first Canadian satellite, Alouette 1, is launched into orbit.

Clear skies and happy viewing!
posted by Romana1 on 10:17 PM | *

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Sports, sports, and more sports.

D.W.Q.M.: "You know, I am so constantly outwitting the opposition, I tend to forget the delight and satisfaction of the arts... the gentle art of fisticuffs." -the First Doctor

Football is starting this weekend (regular season)- Yay!!!! Go Packers!!!

The Doctor: "Abernathy, where the heck did he come from?"
Romana (nonchalantly): "The Twins' dugout."
The Doctor *shaking his head*: "Sheesh."

Ahh, a victory-a small victory, but a victory nonetheless. ;)

The Indians beat the Twins, 7-5. Boo!!!
Hey, I got the Wendy's trivia question during the 7th inning: Which were the only 2 Twins to hit a grand slam during the World Series?
A: Dan Gladden and Kent Hrbek-both from the 1987 World Series. ahh, what a great year. ;) LOL :-D

Hockey starts next month! Yay! Go, Wild!!!

Today Adam, Jerm, Jerm's dad, Mr. D and I tried out a different disc golf course-Rosco Park in Medina. It was fun, but took longer than Sims. That's ok-I can use the exercise! Next time I'm going to make sure I have a big bottle of Gatorade, though. ;) Jerm's been helping me improve my distance drives. I can't throw them as far as Jerm or Adam, but I have been improving-I'm starting to gain control over the disc-they are flying straighter and going farther than they used to! :) Now instead of taking 3 or 4 throws to Jerm and Adam's one, it only takes 2. :) Yay! Well, once I've warmed up...usually by the 8th or 9th hole. LOL. ;)

Rosco is pretty cool-they have two tees-the professional one, and one a little bit farther up. Mr. D and I jokingly called them the "girl" tees. Even though we haven't been playing as long as the others, we insisted on starting where they did. I wanted the challenge. :) The holes there are more difficult than the ones at Sims-more trees and other hazards-there's also a greater chance of losing a disc-poor Adam lost one today! Flew right into a particularly dense bunch of bushes. Mr. D found his first disc-it was bright orange and right on the edge of the fairway-hard to believe someone lost it! 15 was an interesting hole-the tee was at the top of the hill, and there were many trees and tall bushes-some with pricklers. *ow!* At first I didn't want to do this one-so I ran to the bottom of the hill to track the guys' discs as they threw them down. After they were done, I decided to give it a try. It wasn't so bad, and I'm glad I did try it.

We definitely have to try that course again. :)
posted by Romana1 on 11:53 PM | *

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Sky events...

D.W.Q.M.: Duke Juliano: "There's this man in Florence claims that by arranging ground glasses in a certain order, it's possible to see the moon and stars as large as your hand."
Marco: "Is that a good thing?" (from the Fourth Doctor story, the Masque of Mandragora.)

No September night sky post yet. Ro seems to have misplaced her copy of Sky and Telescope

Okay, enough of me talking in the third person. ;)

Hopefully I'll have a September night sky post soon, so, until then...

Tuesday night, after discgolfing with Adam and Jerm at Sims Park, we decided to check out the sunset along the shores of Lake Erie, 'cause it looked cool. *heehee* I have to watch my language here-don't want the guys to sound feminine. ;) They weren't, believe me, they weren't. Although Adam did decide to joke around and with a high pitch voice, said, 'oooh! the sunset, how pur-ty!' and skipped along the ground-but that was only after I said, 'ooh! Let's watch the sunset!' Apparently guys don't like to watch sunsets, just check them out when they look pretty cool. LOL Either that, or they were just humoring me, since I wanted to go down to the lakeshore and look. :) (There was also a guy there taking some time-lapsed pictures of the sunset-it was really cool)

Planets in the horizon...
Ok, to the point-really... ;) So as I'm sitting on the rocks, watching the thin crescent moon, I saw Venus twinkle into view. Totally cool. :) Driving back, we also spotted Jupiter. Low in the western horizon, the shores of Lake Erie was the perfect place to be at twilight. Although Venus and Jupiter continue to get farther apart since their conjunction on September 1st, they still shine low in the western horizon, Venus being the brighter of the two planets. :)

Solar flare activity!!
Holy sunspots, Batman!
Sunspot Region 808 (nicknamed for Region 10808, renamed from Region 10798 as it came into view around the eastern limb of the sun for a second time-which was responsible for all the flare activity last month) belted out and X-class solar flare approx. 1:40 EDT yesterday afternoon. X-17.1!!!! Complete with a coronal mass ejection (CME). Unfortunately the ejection happened well to the southeast of the Earth, so we won't be seeing the effects from this particular flare. However, if the region continues to be as active as it has been, there is the potential for some auroal activity over the next two weeks as the region makes it's way to the western limb of the sun.

There are several reasons why this is so amazing. For one, very few solar flares get an X-Class rating, and even fewer go above X-10. (remember all the hype 2 years ago? Those were some powerful solar flares!) This flare was powerful enough to saturate one of the x-ray sensors on the GOES spacecraft-it very nearly saturated both of them. The other remarkable thing about this sunspot is it's longevity. This region was renamed as it came into view for a second time. Few sunspots groups ever last this long-and it is still very active!

What does this mean for the causal viewer? Over the next two weeks there may be great potential for auroral activity. :)
posted by Romana1 on 11:41 AM | *

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