“Aurora” over Providence

Note: this was originally published on March 6. It was updated on March 8 to include new information.

On March 6 we received local reports that the aurora was observed in New England just before sunrise. One of our visitors described seeing it from a rest area on Route 495 near Boston. There was another report from Vermont. Our automated all sky camera was running the entire night and captured the view above Providence. Also visible is the International Space Station (ISS) streaking through the sky about 500 miles from Providence as the planets Mars and Saturn shine brilliantly in the south.

ISS and aurora
A 10 second exposure taken March 6, 2016 at 4:54:18 AM EST. This image has been processed to make it easier to see the stars.

During the night the camera recorded 3,750 images of the sky. North is at right, west at bottom, and the zenith is at center. The field of view is about 140 by 90 degrees, capturing most of the sky above Providence. The images can be processed to produce a time lapse movie that shows 5 minutes of changes in the sky per second of video. Click on the image below to watch an excerpt. A number of artificial satellite can be seen streaking through the sky just before dawn.

Our sky camera has been in operation since the spring of 2008. We’ve never captured images like this before.

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Asteroid misses Earth, film at 11

A Near-Earth Object is an asteroid or comet that is in an orbit that sometimes brings it close to the Earth.  The largest of these are known as Potentially Hazardous Objects as they could cause significant damage if they impacted our planet. There are sometimes news reports of a “close approach” where an object passes particularly near the Earth. An  asteroid called 2013 TX68 will pass the Earth on March 8, 2016. It is estimated to be 100 feet in diameter.

orbit of asteroid 2013 TX68
The orbit of asteroid 2013 TX68 in relation to the Earth.

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