QUIET SUN: Solar activity remains low. All of the sunspots on the Earthside of the sun have stable, quiet magnetic fields. NOAA forecasters say there is no more than a 1% chance of strong flares on June 13th.
NOCTILUCENT OUTBURST: Observers in Europe are reporting a spectacular outburst of noctilucent clouds (NLCs). “The NLCs were really bright over Gothenburg, Sweden!” says Svante Sandström, who took this picture before daybreak on June 13th:
The electric-blue color and finely spaced ripples are typical of these clouds, which are seeded by meteoroids and hover 83 km above Earth’s surface at the threshold of space. They are growing brighter every night as northern summer approaches. Elsewhere in Europe, the clouds were spotted in Denmark, Poland and Estonia.
Noctilucent clouds were first reported by Europeans in the late 1800s. In those days, you had to travel to latitudes well above 50o to see them. Now, however, NLCs are spreading. In recent years they have been sighted as far south as Colorado and Utah in the United States.
So far this year, the majority of NLC sightings have been in Europe. It is only a matter of time before the electric-blue ripples spread to North America. Observing tips: Look west 30 to 60 minutes after sunset when the Sun has dipped 6o to 16o below the horizon. If you see blue-white tendrils spreading across the sky, you may have spotted a noctilucent cloud.
Noctilucent Clouds Images from NASA’s AIM spacecraft are once again appearing on Spaceweather.com. Check back daily for space-based sightings of noctilucent clouds. Switch view: Europe, USA, Asia, Polar
Updated at: 06-13-2016 16:55:02
DONUT OF LIGHT OVER COLORADO: On June 8th, high above a thunderstorm in Colorado, an enormous ring of light appeared near the edge of space. Amateur astronomer Thomas Ashcraft photographed the ‘donut’ using a low-light video camera.
“It only lasted about a millisecond,” says Ashcraft, “but it was definitely there. The ring was about 300 km wide,” he estimates.
This is an example of an ELVE (Emissions of Light and Very Low Frequency Perturbations due to Electromagnetic Pulse Sources). First seen by cameras on the space shuttle in 1990, ELVEs appear when a pulse of electromagnetic radiation from lightning propagates up toward space and hits the base of Earth’s ionosphere. A faint ring of light marks the broad ‘spot’ where the EMP hits.
ELVES often appear alongside red sprites. Indeed, Ashcraft’s camera caught a cluster of sprites leaping straight up through the middle of the donut. “Play the complete video to see the sprites,” says Ashcraft.
ELVEs are elusive–and that’s an understatement. Blinking in and out of existance in only 1/1000th of a second, they are completely invisible to the human eye. For comparison, red sprites tend to last for hundredths of a second and regular lightning can scintillate for a second or more. Their brevity explains why ELVEs are a more recent discovery than other lightning-related phenomenon.
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