Solar Dynamics Observatory Stunner

On February 11, 2015, NOAA and NASA successfully launched DSCOVR  ( Deep Space Climate Observatory) – a watchdog, intended to replace ACE (launched in 1997) as a early warning system monitoring solar activity and incoming storms. In addition to incoming trouble, DSCOVR will keep one eye Earthbound – EPIC ( Enhanced Polychromatic Imaging Camera) looks back at Earth, with 10 filters able to image ozone and aerosols, cloud height, vegetation properties, and ultraviolet reflectivity.

DSCOVR isn’t this week’s only NASA stunner. On February 13, they released a video marking 5 years of SDO, the Solar Dynamics Observatory. Watch, wonder and smile.

Another Perspective


“Curious” is the only way to describe polarized opinions of the universe. Try as I might, ability to convey my  belief the universe can be welcomed without discussion of God, often elude, baffle and exasperate. I feel sorry for those choosing to grind away at life, blinders firmly in place as silly rhetoric robs them of wonder. Constant encounters with people blithering over “God’s” magnificence, reciting the “party line” as their field of vision narrows. I can’t put this any way other than calm assurance – I don’t give a rat’s ass what you believe, look at the damn sky! Snap out of it, understand it doesn’t make a lick of difference who or what made it – is it too much to ask you pay attention?

Indifference void of religious cataracts make even less sense. Patience becomes a rare commodity as eyes glaze over, insincere “how interesting” or lame alien jokes illustrate your lack of imagination. Look at the damn sky!

Having a favorite star, knowing exact distances between earth and the moon or sun, checking space weather reports, watching aurora cams, geomagnetic storm activity, solar winds or potentially hazardous asteroids doesn’t make me paranoid, flakey or crazy. Knowing star formations, planetary alignments and lunar cycles isn’t guaranteed membership in the “crystal worshippers club”. Interest in Keppler, Hubble, Cassini, or Voyager space probes, phone apps Google Sky and Solar Dynamics Observatory with “real time” images at my fingertips hardly justify your snickers.

Human nature dictates longing for explanation – answers put our minds at ease. For those so inclined, God becomes a fall back position, “his” wonder negating any need for further reflection. To be honest, those void of conviction, unwilling to tear themselves away from all too important little lives are the ones who confound; stay the course religious constraints considerably more understandable than indifferent, self absorbed tweeters.

This evening a fat old light bulb flickered – long enough to glean a moment of comprehension, bright enough to illuminate reflection. It dawned on me; wonder wasn’t something to shove down throats, expecting others to share my views – ridiculous as religious fundamentalists asking me to climb on board. Expectations for socially wired twenty somethings to see the world as I do or comprehend life without all consuming devices, nothing more than a sign middle age is laughing.

Undaunted by sobering light bulbs, human nature prevailed – my approach is all wrong – baby steps might be the answer. To be honest it doesn’t matter, won’t alter my course or change my ways if others can’t name the stars in constellation Orion. This isn’t about swaying the masses, isn’t directed at the majority of my open minded followers or intended as anything other than the “baby step” angle stuck in my head.

Over the next few days I’m going to attempt a politely restrained road trip away from planet earth. Tonight’s video, barely outside the upper atmosphere, captures lightning and auroras from the orbiting space station. If nothing else, it cements the concept of our”magnetosphere” –  the starting point of space weather repercussions – a baby step into the cosmos.

Aurora Cam

I just found the greatest thing, smiling from ear to ear all I can think about is sharing Aurora Cam. This link takes you to a site with further links to aurora cams set up around the world. In real time, or in the case of the cam at Yellowknife, NWT which I’m currently glued to – updated every 20 seconds – watch northern lights as they happen around the world. Don’t expect a planetarium laser show every time – just sit back, get comfy and let aurora cast her spell.

Each cam will tell you if geomagnetic action is taking place. To get the most out of this without losing interest – keep an eye on the site is updated every 10 minutes and gives advance warning of solar impacts as well as estimated intensity and scope. When spaceweather indicates solar storms in progress – high tail it over to Aurora Cam.