Solar flares, Saturn storms and the thunder of Earth

An M-class solar flare spews enormous clouds of hydrogen into the sun's corona early this morning. This photo comes from a video made by NASA's SDO in far ultraviolet light. Credit: NASA

Around 1:40 a.m. Central time today, the sun unleashed a powerful M-class flare and large CME (coronal mass ejection) from a cluster of sunspot groups on the southwestern part of its disk. The ever-watching eye of NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) recorded a video of the event that’s nothing short of spectacular. The picture above is a single frame grab. Click the photo or click HERE to watch . Once you see the video, to replay it, highlight the web address in the address bar and press the enter key. I had to view it four times it was so good.

The white swirls at upper left are part of a storm that's been raging on Saturn since late last year. In the foreground are the moons Dione (center) and Rhea (right) with diameters of 698 miles and 949 miles respectively. The photo was taken by the Cassini probe that's been orbiting and studying the planet since July 1, 2004. Credit: NASA

Another storm, this one from thunderstorms producing ammonia ice crystals, continues pounding the planet Saturn. Just this week, NASA released a new photo taken in March by the Cassini space probe that not only shows the swirly tempest but also the moons Dione and Rhea and the skinny ring plane. The storm wraps completely around the planet’s northern hemisphere.

Before the rain fell, northeastern Minnesota was treated to a nonstop lightning show late last night. Photo: Bob King

Last night I could hardly get to bed because of storms brewing to the north and west of my home. Instead, I headed out with camera and tripod to record the lightning and take in the frenetic light show. Incredible ruffled clouds flashed into view with every stroke.

Sun, Saturn, Earth … we’re all brothers on the ocean of storms.

2 thoughts on “Solar flares, Saturn storms and the thunder of Earth

  1. Bob, you take great pictures. I have used more than one for my desktop. Have you checked out dakotalapse.com? I thought you might want to put a link on your blog because of the great astronomy time-lapse movies. It’s also because it showcases our lovely skies that make astronomy so great out here in South Dakota!

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