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All’s quiet on the Sun

3 December 2016 Astronomy Now

This week the Sun was hitting its lowest level of solar activity since 2011 as it gradually marches toward solar minimum. See a near spotless Sun revolve in this video from the Solar Dynamic Observatory.

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How to view the transit of Mercury online on 9 May

8 May 2016 Astronomy Now

The 2016 transit of Mercury is upon us! With fine weather predicted across a large swathe of the British Isles, many will enjoy clear skies for at least some of this 7½-hour event. But if you don’t have a suitably equipped telescope, or are unable to attend any of the transit-viewing activities organised nationwide, you can still view the phenomenon online.

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A research milestone in helping predict solar flares

17 November 2015 Astronomy Now

An international team of researchers, led by Queen’s University Belfast, has devised a high-precision method of examining magnetic fields in the Sun’s atmosphere, representing a significant leap forward in the investigation of solar flares and potentially catastrophic ‘space weather’.

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Earth photobombs SDO’s view of 13 September partial solar eclipse

14 September 2015 Astronomy Now

The alignment of Sun, Moon and Earth resulted in a partial solar eclipse on 13 September, visible only from the southern tip of Africa and Antarctica. But as NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory, or SDO, kept up its constant watch on the Sun, its view of the eclipse was photobombed by the Earth — the first time that an Earth eclipse and a lunar transit have coincided.

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Sun emits a mid-level solar flare on 24 August

24 August 2015 Astronomy Now

The Sun emitted a mid-level solar flare, peaking at 8:33am BST on 24 August 2015. NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory, which watches the Sun constantly, captured the image of the event shown here. Although harmful radiation from such a flare cannot pass through Earth’s atmosphere, intense flares can disturb the atmosphere in the layer where GPS and communications signals travel.

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New model could track solar storms 24 hours before reaching Earth

10 June 2015 Astronomy Now

Our Sun is a volatile star, producing giant clouds of solar particles called coronal mass ejections. Now scientists may finally have a tool to predict the magnetic configuration of a CME from afar, enabling forecasters to give utility grid and satellite operators a day’s advance warning to protect their systems.

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Sun sizzles in high-energy X-rays

23 December 2014 Astronomy Now

Designed to study black holes, supernova remnants and other extreme objects beyond our Solar System, NASA’s Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) has captured the most sensitive portrait of the Sun ever taken in high-energy X-rays.