Sun gets all fired up as monster awakens
Published 05/11/2011 | 05:00
After years of quiet, the sun is coming alive with solar storms in a big way.
The sun shot off a flare yesterday from a region that scientists are calling a "benevolent monster".
Scientists at the Space Weather Prediction Centre say that region has been the most active part of the sun since 2005.
This active region is now slowly turning toward Earth and scientists say it will be directly facing Earth in about five days.
Meanwhile, a huge asteroid will pass closer to Earth than the moon on Tuesday.
Earth's close encounter with Asteroid 2005 YU 55 will occur at 11.28pm on Tuesday, as the space rock sails about 201,000 miles from the planet.
"It is the first time since 1976 that an object of this size has passed this closely to the Earth," astronomer Scott Fisher, a programme director with the National Science Foundation, said yesterday.
"There is no chance that this object will collide with the Earth or moon," Don Yeomans, with NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, said.
Thousands of amateur and professional astronomers are expected to track YU 55's approach, which will be visible from the planet's northern hemisphere. It will be too dim to be seen with the naked eye, however.