Space Weather News for Jan. 9, 2009
APPROACHING COMET: Comet Lulin (C/2007 N3), discovered in 2007 by a collaborative team of Taiwanese and Chinese astronomers, is swinging around the sun and approaching Earth. The photogenic comet has a bright tail and an "anti-tail" visible in mid-sized backyard telescopes. At closest approach in February, Comet Lulin is expected to brighten to naked-eye visibility. Visit http://Spaceweather.com for sky maps, pictures and more information.
NEW SUNSPOTS: For the second time this week, a sunspot is coalescing on the surface of the sun. The spot's high latitude and magnetic polarity identify it as a member of new Solar Cycle 24; its appearance continues a recent trend of gradually intensifying new-cycle solar activity. The spot is growing rapidly and may soon provide a nice target for backyard solar telescopes.
FULL MOON ALERT! This weekend's full Moon is the biggest and brightest of 2009. It's a "perigee Moon" as much as 50,000 km closer to Earth than other full Moons we'll see later this year. Perigee moonlight shining through icy winter air can produce beautiful halos, coronas, moondogs and other atmospheric optics phenomena. Sample photos are featured on today's edition of Spaceweather.com.