LOW SOLAR WIND: The solar wind is losing power. That's the surprising conclusion of scientists working with data from the Ulysses spacecraft, which has been circling the sun in a polar orbit for nearly 20 years. During that time solar wind pressure has dropped more than 20%. Note the blue curve in the "clock plot" below:

Blue traces solar wind pressure now. For comparison, green traces the significantly higher pressure of the mid-1990s. How this difference fits into the big picture of solar activity over the centuries, no one knows, because solar wind measurements began only 50 years ago with the start of the Space Age. Early measurements were spotty and not always well-calibrated, so, in fact, we know the solar wind well for even less than 50 years. Consequences of low solar wind include fewer geomagnetic storms, more cosmic rays, and NASA's Voyager spacecraft exiting the solar system sooner than anyone expected. Get the full story from Science@NASA.

SUNRISE AT THE SOUTH POLE: On Sept. 21st, Ethan Dicks looked out the window of his office and saw the sun for the first time in 6 months. He quickly grabbed his camera and snapped this picture of sunrise at the South Pole:

"I am a researcher for the University of Wisconsin-Madison, running
IceCube, the large (1 km3 when completed) neutrino telescope that's under construction a mile below the ice near the South Pole," explains Dicks. "The past six months have been almost nothing but night; it's good to see the sun again."

He took the picture a full day before the Sept. 22nd equinox--the "official" date of sunrise. Geometrically, the sun should've been mostly below the horizon at the time, but refraction by the dense polar atmosphere lifted the image up for all to see.