Monday, August 1, 2016

A New Direction

by Stephanie Osborn
1 August 2016

Effective today, I'm taking Comet Tales in a new direction.

Many of you know me as an author. Many know me as a scientist. Oddly, many do NOT know me as BOTH.

So I'm going to show y'all how it works! Starting today, Comet Tales is going to feature the latest information in solar weather, and space weather and news! Alongside that will be information on my latest book releases, and any titles of mine that pertain to the space news of the day!

I won't be posting on a completely regular basis; rather, I'll post on an as-needed basis to ensure you have the most up-to-date information I've got! That might be once a day, it might be once a week, depending on what's happening. It may be a longish post, detailing and explaining a solar event, or it may be a link to a detailed article, with a few comments. So keep up with the blog! Follow me, and you'll always know the latest going on in the space above our atmosphere!

Today's space news:

Asteroid Bennu

We've got a little time, but asteroid 101955 Bennu could cause problems in about 120 years:

It's unlikely but not impossible.

Can we do anything about it? Yes.

Travis S. Taylor and I discussed that in our nonfiction book, A New American Space Plan. There are many possible ways to redirect an asteroid or comet, and we cover them all in our book. Check it out!

Sunspots/Solar Activity

Also we have yet another day with no visible sunspots. If the active sunspots that rotated off about 5 days ago have survived, they would seem to be the only spots on the solar surface. The most recent imagery from the STEREO website (which is NOT on the Solarham website, which has begun updating less and less frequently in recent weeks) indicates that they have indeed survived and are nearing the center of the solar farside disk.

Spot group 2570, which showed up to end the last no-spot run, dissipated on Saturday; another short-lived binary spot group showed up on Sunday but didn't even stay around long enough to be numbered, and now, officially August 2nd GMT/UTC, we are back to no spots.

If I count the "dinky" spots as being essentially no spots, then 30 out of the last 63 days have had little to no sunspots visible (47.6%). 22 out of 63 were unequivocally spotless (34.9%).

And yes, I do know a thing or two about this -- my graduate work was in spotted variable star astronomy. I have an ebook out about solar variability called The Weather Out There Is Frightful, and it talks about spots, flares, coronal mass ejections, the solar cycle, extended minima, and more. 

~Stephanie Osborn