So… What’s Up With ISON?

Yesterday sure was interesting. As the astronomical world, from scientists to journalists to enthusiasts alike, watched online in near real time as ISON came within its closest pass of the Sun — in literally ever — the comet, having spent the previous several hours brightening steadily, suddenly went dim as it traveled deep into the…

Comet Lovejoy’s Dazzling Death Dive

The end is definitely near… for comet Lovejoy, at least. The bright sungrazing comet was discovered on December 2, 2011, by Australian amateur astronomer Terry Lovejoy using a ground-based telescope. It was quickly seen that the comet was on a doomsday dive toward the Sun and will not likely survive its close pass of our…

Can Comets Cause CMEs?

First, watch this sequence: What is it? It’s an animation made from images taken by ESA’s SOHO solar observatory showing a comet diving into the Sun on October 1, and then a large CME (coronal mass ejection) erupting immediately thereafter. Now, typically science has said that there is no connection between comets impacting the Sun…

From the LITD Archives: Final Flight

Originally posted on January 6, 2010. A reminder that our solar system is a dynamic place, where gravity is the rule of the game and there’s rarely a prize for second place. On January 3, the European Space Agency’s SOHO solar observatory spacecraft captured images of a comet flying towards the Sun….and then disappearing into…

Fatal Attraction

This video from SOHO spanning several days’ worth of time shows the activity of the Sun’s corona as stellar energy is streamed out into space against a passing background field of stars…and then right in the final moments we see it: the bright trail of a comet as it makes its final journey straight into…

A Stormy Star

This video from the SOHO solar observatory spacecraft shows a a partial rotation of the Sun seen in ultraviolet light (the green color is from the specialized camera filter, corresponding to emissions at 1.5 million degrees Kelvin.) In the Sun’s northern hemisphere an energetic area of solar prominences can be seen, tens of thousands of…

And still they come…

Watching a video of SOHO images today, I noticed two more comets diving toward the Sun (located behind the white circle on the blue disc), on the 8th and the 9th. Both came from the same direction, from the lower left as seen in the still above. Watch the video here. With over 1500 comets…

The End of a Comet’s Tale

These two images, taken by the SOHO solar observatory spacecraft, show the last moments of a comet as it approaches the Sun in what turned out to be its final voyage…the Sun’s radiating energy sizzled the icy traveler shortly after. (See the video version on my earlier post.) The two images were taken with different…

Final Flight

On January 3, the European Space Agency’s SOHO solar observatory spacecraft captured images of a comet flying towards the Sun….and then disappearing into it, evaporating in heat of the solar furnace. The video above, taken by the spacecraft’s Heliospheric Imager which monitors the activity of the Sun’s corona, clearly shows the comet’s final moments before…

Solar Power

This video taken by the SOHO (Solar and Heliospheric Observatory) spacecraft, a joint project by NASA and the European Space Agency, shows a large bright active region on the Sun rotating into view on November 13. These areas, many times larger than Earth, expel large amounts of solar material and energy in the form of…

Blue Light Special

  The European Space Agency’s SOHO (Solar and Heliospheric Observatory) satellite returned this image today of the sun, taken in ultraviolet light at one-million-degree temperature wavelengths. Bright, twisted areas are regions of hotter storminess while darker spots are cooler zones called coronal holes. The SOHO satellite is positioned in orbit around the sun just inside…