Astronomy Picture of the Day

Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.

2001 March 29
See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download 
 the highest resolution version available.

Aurora Alaskan Style
Credit & Copyright: Jan Curtis (U. Alaska), ACRC

Explanation: Have you checked the space weather report lately? With a coronal mass ejection (CME) headed our way and an immense sunspot group tracking across the solar photosphere, skygazers should be on the alert. The interaction of clouds of energetic particles from the active Sun with planet Earth's magnetosphere often produces significant geomagnetic storms and auroral displays. In fact, just days ago on March 24, photographer Jan Curtis pointed his camera straight up to captured this awesome auroral curtain towering in clear and very cold (-25F) skies over Fairbanks, Alaska, USA. Now, forecasts indicate that a recent Earth-directed CME may also trigger moderate geomagnetic storms over the next few days. Night sky aurora, possibly extending to middle latitudes, would be most likely on March 30-31.

Tomorrow's picture: Equinox + 1

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Authors & editors: Robert Nemiroff (MTU) & Jerry Bonnell (USRA)
NASA Technical Rep.: Jay Norris. Specific rights apply.
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