RARE MORNING SKY SHOW: For the first time since Dec. 2004, five naked-eye planets have lined up at dawn in order of their distance from the sun. It's a rare morning sky show. Next week, the Moon will hop from planet to planet, producing a series of early morning conjunctions. Set your alarm for dawn and enjoy the show! Sky maps: today, June 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26.
LONG-DURATION SOLAR FLARE AND CME:
Growing sunspot AR3032 exploded on June 13th (0407 UT), producing an M3-class solar flare that lasted nearly 8 hours from beginning to end. NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory recorded the slow-motion blast:
Extreme ultraviolet radiation from the flare ionized the top of Earth's atmosphere, causing a shortwave radio blackout over Japan and southeast Asia: blackout map. Radio operators in the area may have noticed unusual propagation effects at frequencies below 30 MHz for more than an hour after the flare's peak.
Also, the explosion hurled a magnificent CME into space, according to coronagraphs onboard the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO). Click to set the scene in motion: