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Northern lights dancing in East Kootenay skies | Columbia Valley, Cranbrook, East Kootenay, Elk Valley, Kimberley, Ktunaxa Nation – E-Know.ca

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The Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC) with the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has issued a G3 (Strong) Geomagnetic Storm Watch for October 30/31, following a significant solar flare and Coronal Mass Ejection (CME) from the sun that occurred around 11:35 a.m. EDT on Oct. 28.

“Analysis indicated the CME departed the Sun at a speed of 973 km/s and is forecast to arrive at Earth on October 30, with effects likely continuing into October 31. When the CME approaches Earth, NOAA’s DSCOVR satellite will be among the first spacecraft to detect the real time solar wind changes and SWPC forecasters will issue any appropriate warnings,” SWPC stated.

“Impacts to our technology from a G3 storm are generally nominal. However, a G3 storm has the potential to drive the aurora further away from its normal polar residence and if other factors come together, the aurora might be seen over the far northeast, to the upper midwest, and over the state of Washington.”

So be prepared for a major sky show tonight and tomorrow, with clear sky conditions forecast. And you might want to consider shutting off electronic devices to be on the safe side the next 24 hours.

Rick Nowell, Physics Lab Tech at College of the Rockies, was busy earlier this month capturing the beautiful, ethereal sky dance of the Northern Lights that were on full, glorious display.

The Northern Lights were visible over the East Kootenay on Monday, October 11 and early Oct. 12.  This was due to a M 1.6 class solar flare on Oct. 9 that sent a coronal mass ejection that hit Earth on Oct. 12, triggering a G2 solar storm.  They were bright enough to be seen in Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton.  Americans reported seeing it as far South as Iowa, Minnesota and Ohio,” Nowell said.

Greens and dim reds of the Aurora reflected in the Kootenay River, near Wasa at 12:15 a.m. on Oct. 12.  Facing north. The handle of the big dipper seen upper right. Rick Nowell Photo

“Hints of the aurora started around 10 p.m. and it slowly built up as a glowing gray band along the northern horizon.  The NOAA space weather site showed a solar storm warning with a strong Kp=6 on the index scale.  [The Kp index levels range from a quiet 0 to an intense 9.] It was worth driving out to a dark area near Wasa to check it out.  By midnight it showed as two bright horizontal bands to the north horizon (as in the photo above) steadily brightening into a greenish glow and climbing above the Big Dipper stars.

“At 12:20, it suddenly broke up into bright green checkerboard patches and discharged as moving glowing spikes and curves to the northeast over Mt Bill Nye.  Visibly you could see the pale green moving “flames” with reddish tints at their base.  These rotated as two long cylindrical curtains: an inner brighter one rotated right, while a larger cylinder rotated left outside of it,” Nowell related.

Above video: Moving green flames over Mt Bill Nye to the Northeast with crimson at the base.  This is an animated GIF with 12 frames from a small video AuroraNik_720x480 (attached).

The bright discharge subsided to a dim green glow after ten minutes, but four hours later reappeared as bright spikes (at 04:43 am MDT) as shown here in an animated GIF using frames from the college Meteor Cam.

“The aurora was bright and moving fast enough for video.  The video above shows one minute of the green flames moving over Mt. Bill Nye.  Video can be grainy and dim for low-light displays like this.  Normally you would set the camera on a tripod and take time-exposures of around two to six seconds at 3200 ISO for each photo.  Except the aurora curtains were moving too swiftly for that.  The problem is, HD-1080 video is taken at 24 frames/second, so your exposure time is too brief, just 0.04sec per frame.  But here I’m using a fast f/1.8 wide-angle 28mm lens which gathers a lot of light, and using 6400 ISO on the camera, which helps brighten it.  It is still grainy and dim, my eye saw it brighter than the movie,” Nowell explained.

“The Northern Lights haven’t been very active the past few years.  This was the first widespread occurrence. The sun has an 11-year cycle of quiet and noisy periods.  We just passed the “minimum” from 2019 to April 2020.  We should see more occurrences now, with max activity predicted for July 2025.  For more info.

Nowell provided e-KNOW with more details about recent solar flare activity.

THE CAUSE:  Solar flares that send ionized hydrogen blowing out from the Sun’s corona, containing protons and electrons.  After a few days this hits the Earth and is funnelled into the Earth’s magnetic field lines at the North and South poles.  It corkscrews down, and where the magnetic field lines get close together, bounces back from just above the atmosphere, around 57-63 degrees north latitude.  Then it corkscrews back up again and bounces back and forth.  More charge accumulates and pushes the magnetic field lines further and further apart, (it also creates a huge “ring current” circling the Earth which distorts the Earth’s magnetic field) and the charges speed up and come lower down, until the electrons and protons finally spray out along curving lines, and escape into the ionosphere at about 80 to 200 km high to collide with oxygen and nitrogen in the air.

COLOURS SEEN:  The green and red glow from aurorae are jumps of electrons in oxygen atoms high in the atmosphere. The bright green that is most often seen, occurs from oxygen between 80 to 100km high.  These are quick transitions, lasting 1/3 of a second, and bright.  The dim red above the green auroral curtains (above 200 km) is also produced by oxygen atoms jumping from the excited state left over from the transition above and ending up in the “ground-state,” oxygen’s normal resting place.  This transition is a slow event, taking around 104 seconds to complete and dim to see.

Lead image: During a strong aurora, nitrogen gas is hit hard enough by electrons to glow blue between the red and green layers and to glow crimson along the bottom edges of the curtains at 80 km.  Here is an example showing the blues from May 2016.  Facing north from Fernie, the constellation Cassiopeia above.  Sasha Prystae (of Kimberley) photo

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New Russian module docks with International Space Station – CGTN

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A Soyuz rocket carrying the Progress cargo spacecraft and the Prichal node module lifts off from a launch pad at the Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, November 24, 2021. /CFP

A Soyuz rocket carrying the Progress cargo spacecraft and the Prichal node module lifts off from a launch pad at the Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, November 24, 2021. /CFP

A Russian cargo craft carrying a new docking module successfully hooked up with the International Space Station Friday after a two-day space journey.

The new spherical module, named Prichal (Pier), docked with the orbiting outpost at 6:19 p.m. Moscow time (1519 GMT). It has six docking ports and will allow potential future expansion of the Russian segment of the station.

The module has moored to the docking port of the new Russian Nauka (Science) laboratory module.

On Wednesday, a Soyuz rocket took off from the Russian launch facility in Baikonur, Kazakhstan, carrying the Progress cargo ship with Prichal attached to it. After entering space, the cargo ship with the module went into orbit.

Progress is also delivering 700 kilograms of various cargoes to the space station and is expected to undock from the station on December 22.

The first Soyuz spacecraft is expected to dock at the new module on March 18, 2022, with a crew of three cosmonauts: Oleg Artemyev, Denis Matveev and Sergei Korsakov.

Earlier this week, the Russian crew on the station started training for the module’s arrival, simulating the use of manual controls in case the automatic docking system failed.

The space outpost is currently operated by NASA astronauts Raja Chari, Thomas Marshburn, Kayla Barron, and Mark Vande Hei; Russian cosmonauts Anton Shkaplerov and Pyotr Dubrov; and Matthias Maurer of the European Space Agency.

Source(s): AP

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Stargazer in Italy spots NASA's DART asteroid impact probe in night sky after launch – Space.com

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An Italian telescope captured NASA’s asteroid-smashing mission shortly after its launch into space this week. 

A new image and video, taken by the Elena telescope located in Ceccano, Italy, shows NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test mission, also known as DART, separated from the second stage of the Falcon 9 rocket which launched the spacecraft from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California on Tuesday (Nov. 23 PST, or early Nov. 24 EST) . The mission sent DART on a 10-month-long journey to a binary asteroid system called Didymos

Both DART and the booster can be seen in this image (above), which was taken remotely with a single 30-second exposure, astronomer Gianluca Masi said in a statement. Masi runs the Virtual Telescope Project 2.0, which includes the Elena telescope.

The image was taken remotely 10 hours after DART lifted off, Masi said.

Related: NASA’s DART asteroid-impact mission explained in pictures

NASA’s DART spacecraft and a Falcon 9 second stage booster that launched it can be seen as two small dots at the center of this image capture a few hours after the mission’s launch. (Image credit: The Virtual Telescope Project)

The robotic Elena telescope automatically tracked DART and the booster, both of which are visible at the center of the image as bright dots. The short white lines surrounding those two dots are stars in the background. When the image was taken, DART was about 93,000 miles (150,000 kilometers) from Earth, about half the distance between our planet and the moon, Masi said. 

In addition to the static image, the telescope also captured a short video sequence, which shows the separated second-stage booster blinking. This blinking, Masi said, is caused by the booster spinning. 

The pioneering DART mission will conduct a first-of-its-kind test that will show if and how a spacecraft can change the path of an asteroid by smashing into it. In September of next year, the spacecraft will ram into a 525-foot-wide (160 meters) asteroid “moonlet” known as Dimorphos, which orbits the larger space rock Didymos. The goal of the experiment is to alter Dimorphos’ orbit around Didymos, shortening it by several minutes, to prove that such an intervention could divert the trajectory of a large asteroid if, in the future, one were to be on a path that threatened planet Earth.

Related stories:

DART also carries a small cubesat called LICIACube, from Italy’s space agency, which will be released 10 days ahead of DART’s self-destructive impact and film the aftermath of the crash. 

In 2024, the European Space Agency (ESA) will also send a larger surveyor spacecraft called Hera to the asteroid system that will analyze the crater and gather data about Didymos’ and Dimorphos’ physical structure and chemical composition. By then, astronomers will have known whether DART deflected Dimorphos, thanks to ground-based observations. 

Follow Tereza Pultarova on Twitter @TerezaPultarova. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook

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Russia’s new module on ISS to offer docking opportunity for foreign spacecraft in future – TASS

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KOROLYOV /Moscow Region/, November 26. /TASS/. NASA and Roscosmos have begun talks on harmonizing technical standards of Crew Dragon spaceships with the Russian module and Russian spacecraft with the US segment on the International Space Station (ISS), Roscosmos Chief Dmitry Rogozin said at the Flight Control Center on Friday.

“NASA and Roscosmos have launched talks on harmonizing technical standards that will allow not only Crew Dragon or Russian spaceships to dock with the American segment but, in general, this docking is possible and will require an adapter,” Rogozin said, replying to a question about whether US spacecraft would be able to dock to Russia’s new Prichal nodal module.

The Prichal module’s docking completed the formation of the ISS Russian segment, the Roscosmos chief said.

The Prichal nodal module will also serve as a prototype for similar modules for the future Russian Orbital Service Station (ROSS) that will be the ‘joints’ of its space body, Rogozin said.

“This is one of the most important prototypes for creating the ROSS whose architecture will differ from the ISS. It should employ the principle of eternal service life: modules that use up their potential will be detached from the station and it will be augmented in a different direction with the help of such nodal modules that will serve as some joints of a new and large metal design engineering body,” Rogozin said.

A Soyuz-2.1b carrier rocket with the Progress M-UM space freighter and the Prichal nodal module blasted off from Launch Pad No. 31 (‘Vostok’) of the Baikonur spaceport to the orbital outpost at 16:06 Moscow time on November 24. The flight to the orbital outpost took two days. The Prichal module docked with the Russian Nauka research lab on November 26.

The new module will boost the capabilities of Russian spaceships, including the latest Oryol spacecraft, to dock with the ISS. Overall, the new module will have five docking ports. The first docking of a manned spacecraft with the Prichal module is scheduled for March 18.

The spacecraft-module also delivered about 700 kg of various cargo to the ISS, including equipment and consumables, water purification, medical control including sanitary and hygienic supplies, maintenance and repair tools, as well as standard food rations for the 66th Main Expedition crew.

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