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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Current conditions
Solar wind
speed: 271.4 km/sec
density: 2.0 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2344 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: B5
2255 UT Jan09
24-hr: C1
1500 UT Jan09
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2340 UT
Daily Sun: 09 Jan. 10
Sunspot 1040 (a.k.a. old sunspot 1035) is a member of new Solar Cycle 24. Image credit: SOHO/MDI
Sunspot number: 14
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 08 Jan 2010

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 0 days
2010 total: 1 day (13%)
2009 total: 260 days (71%)
Since 2004: 772 days
Typical Solar Min: 485 days
explanation | more info
Updated 08 Jan 2010

The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 77 sfu
explanation | more data
Updated 08 Jan 2010

Far side of the Sun:
This holographic image reveals one or more possible sunspots on the far side of the sun. Image credit: SOHO/MDI
Planetary K-index
Now: Kp= 0 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 1
explanation | more data
Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 4.3 nT
Bz: 0.8 nT north
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2345 UT
Coronal Holes:
A solar wind stream flowing from the indicated coronal hole should reach Earth on Jan. 12th or 13th. Credit: SOHO Extreme UV Telescope
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2010 Jan 09 2201 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
10 %
10 %
01 %
01 %
Geomagnetic Storms:
Probabilities for significant disturbances in Earth's magnetic field are given for three activity levels: active, minor storm, severe storm
Updated at: 2010 Jan 09 2201 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
05 %
05 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
05 %
05 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
What's up in Space
January 9, 2010

SATELLITE FLYBYS APP: Turn your iPhone or iPod into a field-tested satellite tracker! presents the Satellite Flybys app.


FINAL NIGHT LAUNCH OF THE SHUTTLE: On Feb. 7th at 4:39 am EST, space shuttle Endeavour will blast off from the Kennedy Space Center on a mission (STS-130) to the International Space Station. It will be the final night launch of NASA's soon-to-be-retired shuttle program. After STS-130, only four missions remain and all of them will leave Earth in broad daylight. Readers, if you are ever going to travel to Florida to witness a launch, Feb. 7th would be a good choice.

SOLAR ACTIVITY: Today has brought an uptick in solar activity. Sunspot 1040 (a.k.a. old sunspot 1035) is crackling with minor solar flares and seems to be gathering itself for something more. Just hours ago, the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory captured this C1-class eruption:

Backyard astronomers with solar telescopes are encouraged to monitor developments.

a movie: "The plasma crawling around inside AR1040 made me think of the head of Medusa. It was exciting to watch!" says amateur astronomer Michael Buxton of Ocean Beach, California. "I made this time-lapse movie at 1 minute intervals from 2045-2215 UT on 8 Jan. 2010."

more images: from Alcaria Rego of Almada, Portugal; from Brian Woosnam of North Wales, UK; from Emiel Veldhuis of Zwolle, the Netherlands; from Robert Arnold of Isle of Skye, Scotland;

ISLAND SNOW: Last week when NASA's Terra satellite orbited over Europe, it saw something very unusual. The normally temperate British Isles were completely covered by snow. From an altitude of 420 miles, Terra's MODIS (Moderate-resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer) camera snapped this picture:

It's not only Britian. Heavy snowfall and record-low temperatures have spread across Europe, closing schools, paralyzing airports, and downing power lines. Much of North America and parts of Asia are experiencing the same brutal cold.

The cause of the phenomenon could be the Arctic Oscillation (AO). The AO is a seesawing strengthening and weakening of semi-permanent areas of low and high atmospheric pressure in the Arctic and the mid-latitudes. One consequence of the oscillation’s negative phase is cold, snowy weather in Eurasia and North America during the winter months. The extreme negative dip of the Arctic Oscillation Index in December 2009 was the lowest monthly value observed for the past six decades.

On the bright side, these conditions are ideal for many forms of atmospheric optics and fantastic patterns of frost on the ground and other surfaces. Browse the links below for examples of what to look for.

more images: from Peter Rosén of Stockholm, Sweden; from Andrew Greenwood of Kerridge on the edge of the Peak District, UK; from Evan Ludes of Omaha, Nebraska; from Tyler Burg of Omaha, Nebraska; from Dan Bush of Albany, Missouri; from Doug Zubenel of De Soto, Kansas; from Julia Ponce of Papillion, Nebraska; from Kyle George of Omaha, Nebraska;

UPDATED: January Northern Lights Gallery
[previous Januarys: 2009, 2008, 2007, 2005, 2004, 2001]

Near-Earth Asteroids
Potentially Hazardous Asteroids (PHAs) are space rocks larger than approximately 100m that can come closer to Earth than 0.05 AU. None of the known PHAs is on a collision course with our planet, although astronomers are finding new ones all the time.
On January 9, 2010 there were 1091 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Jan. 2010 Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
2010 AL2
Jan. 11
11.5 LD
23 m
24761 Ahau
Jan. 11
70.8 LD
1.4 km
2000 YH66
Jan. 12
69.5 LD
1.1 km
Notes: LD means "Lunar Distance." 1 LD = 384,401 km, the distance between Earth and the Moon. 1 LD also equals 0.00256 AU. MAG is the visual magnitude of the asteroid on the date of closest approach.
Essential Links
NOAA Space Weather Prediction Center
  The official U.S. government space weather bureau
Atmospheric Optics
  The first place to look for information about sundogs, pillars, rainbows and related phenomena.
Solar and Heliospheric Observatory
  Realtime and archival images of the Sun from SOHO.
  3D views of the sun from NASA's Solar and Terrestrial Relations Observatory
Daily Sunspot Summaries
  from the NOAA Space Environment Center
Current Solar Images
  from the National Solar Data Analysis Center
Science Central
  more links...
©2008, -- This site is penned daily by Dr. Tony Phillips.













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