Tag Archives: Florence

Florence wide lens 2.

Astronaut tweets incredible pictures of Hurricane Florence heading for the US East Coast

From the lens of Alexander Gerst, a German astronaut currently aboard the ISS, comes a dire warning: “Watch out, America!”

Grest (Twitter link), who joined the International Space Station crew back in June, tweeted some awesome and terrifying pictures of Hurricane Florence sprawled over the planet under his feet. “Watch out, America!”, the tween also warned, “this is a no-kidding nightmare coming for you”.

Eye of the storm

Hurricane Florence is currently a Category 4 storm making a beeline for the US East coast. The storm’s effects are predicted to make themselves felt throughout South and North Carolina starting Thursday, according to the National Hurricane Center.

Undeniably enormous, and frightfully powerful, the storm has captured the imagination of astronauts watching over it from orbit. Grest shot multiple pictures of the storm and posted them online for all the world to see its beauty and fury both.

Florence wide lens.

Image credits Alexander Gerst / ESA via Twitter.

Florence wide lens 2.

Image credits Alexander Gerst / ESA via Twitter.

The storm is so massive, Gerst explained in his Tweet, that he “could only capture her with a super wide-angle lens”. Hurricane Florence is currently over 500 miles (804 kilometers) in diameter.

Gerst also used a high-power telephoto lens to zoom in on the storm’s eye as the station passed overhead.

Storm eye 1.

Image credits Alexander Gerst / ESA via Twitter.

Storm eye 2.

Image credits Alexander Gerst / ESA via Twitter.

Storm eye 3.

Image credits Alexander Gerst / ESA via Twitter.

“Get prepared on the East Coast,” Gerst warned when Tweeting the photo.

NASA also recorded “stark and sobering” video footage of Florence from the space station on Wednesday:

Florence asteroid.

Huge asteroid to safely pass by Earth on September 1st, NASA announces

A big chunk of space-rock known as asteroid Florence will pass by Earth on Sept. 1, 2017, at a safe 7,0 million kilometers (4,4 million miles) out — about 18 times the distance between the Earth and the Moon.

Florence asteroid.

Image credits NASA/JPL-Caltech.

Not to panic, but stuff from space is constantly falling on Earth. For the most part, it’s really small stuff like specks of dust, that fizzles harmlessly — NASA estimates that 100 tones of such material hit the atmosphere daily. Every year or so, an asteroid about the size of a car winds its way to our blue corner of the universe and burns up in a quite spectacular (but still harmless) fireball. The somewhat dangerous bits (between 25-1,000 meters) that even have a chance at impacting the ground, come about every 2,000 years or so. The really dangerous ones, like the ones that kill dinosaurs, are larger than one kilometer in diameter and come about once every few millions of years.

Size-wise, Florence is one of the latter. Clocking in at some 4,4 kilometers (2,7 miles) in diameter, as measured by NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope and NEOWISE mission, it’s definitely capable of wiping us clear off the planet. But luckily for us, it won’t — instead, it will harmlessly pass by close enough to be studied in detail.

The asteroid was discovered in March 1981 at the Spring Observatory in Australia. It’s not the first time it came to visit, but this is the closest it will ever be since 1890 and the closest it will ever be until after 2500. That being said, there will probably still be a collective sigh of relief as Florence zips by, given the sheer size of this thing.

“While many known asteroids have passed by closer to Earth than Florence will on September 1, all of those were estimated to be smaller,” said Paul Chodas, manager of NASA’s Center for Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS) at the agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

“Florence is the largest asteroid to pass by our planet this close since the NASA program to detect and track near-Earth asteroids began.”

It’s not all worry, however. The size and close proximity of Florence mean that scientists will have an opportunity to peer at the body in very high detail. Radar imaging of the asteroid is already planned at NASA’s Goldstone Solar System Radar in California and at the National Science Foundation’s Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico. These should measure the real size of Florence and reveal surface details as small as 10 meters (30 feet).