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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Current conditions
Solar wind
speed: 289.0 km/sec
density: 0.6 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2344 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A0
2255 UT Nov12
24-hr: A0
2255 UT Nov12
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2340 UT
Daily Sun: 11 Nov. 09
Sunspot 1030 is about to rotate over the sun's western limb. Credit: SOHO/MDI

more images: from Dave Gradwell of Birr, Ireland; from Robert Arnold of Isle of Skye, Scotland
Sunspot number: 11
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 11 Nov 2009

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 0 days
2009 total: 239 days (76%)
Since 2004: 750 days
Typical Solar Min: 485 days
explanation | more info
Updated 11 Nov 2009

Far side of the Sun:
This holographic image reveals sunspot 1029 transiting the far side of the sun. Image credit: SOHO/MDI
Planetary K-index
Now: Kp= 0 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 0
explanation | more data
Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 3.9 nT
Bz: 0.9 nT north
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2346 UT
Coronal Holes:
There are no coronal holes on the Earth-facing side of the sun. Credit: SOHO Extreme UV Telescope
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2009 Nov 12 2201 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
01 %
01 %
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: 2009 Nov 12 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
November 12, 2009

AURORA ALERT: Did you miss the Northern Lights? Next time get a wake-up call: Spaceweather PHONE.


FIREBALLS TONIGHT: The northern branch of the annual Taurid meteor shower peaks on Nov. 12th. Sky watchers should be alert for fireballs. The Taurids, caused by debris from Comet 2P/Encke, tend to be slow and very bright. Forecasters expect as many as 5 Taurids per hour during the hours around midnight. [sky map] [gallery]

AROUND THE BEND: The "green sun" pictured below is an ultraviolet-wavelength photo taken just hours ago by NASA's STEREO-B spacecraft. What lies beneath the circled thicket of hot plasma and magnetic fields? It could be the most active sunspot of the year. (continued below)

The circle marks the location of sunspot 1029. In late October, sunspot 1029 materialized on the Earth-facing side of the sun and quickly established itself as the biggest active region of 2009. It produced more than ten C-class solar flares, single-handedly quadrupling the number of such eruptions since the year began. For the past 11 days, however, sunspot 1029 has been out of sight transiting the farside of the sun.

The sunspot is still invisible from Earth, but STEREO-B can see it because the spacecraft is stationed over the sun's eastern horizon. The glaring knot of extreme ultraviolet activity hides the sunspot's underlying dark core from STEREO's UV telescopes, and this limits how much we know about it. Has sunspot 1029 broken apart and diminished during its long farside transit? Or is it still its old active self? Answers will be revealed in 3 days when solar rotation turns sunspot 1029 toward white-light cameras on Earth. Stay tuned.

UPSIDE-DOWN RAINBOWS: Lately, sky watchers have been reporting a growing number of "upside-down rainbows." Here's one that appeared Monday over Lansford, Pennsylvania:

"This was just amazing and beyond exciting," says photographer Brenda Pun. "I grabbed my camera (a Nikon D40x) and quickly took some shots before it could disappear."

Despite its rainbow-like appearance, this is not a rainbow. It's a circumzenithal arc. Atmospheric optics expert Les Cowley calls it "the most beautiful of all ice haloes." The circumzenithal arc, or "CZA" for short, is formed by sunlight shining through plate-shaped ice crystals in high clouds. "The CZA is often described as an 'upside down rainbow' by first timers. Someone also charmingly likened it to 'a grin in the sky.'"

The same ice crystals that make circumzenithal arcs also make sundogs. Indeed, Brenda Pun saw a pair of bright sundogs flanking the sun while she was photographing her CZA. 'Dogs and grins naturally go together.

Circumzenithal arcs typically appear in late autumn and early winter when the air is icy and the sun is low. "The CZA forms only when sun is less than 32.3° high," notes Cowley, "and it is at its best when the sun is about 22° high." As winter solstice approaches, "upside down rainbows" will become increasingly common. Look for them!

more images: from Bob of Landing, New Jersey; from Sawyer Rosenstein of Ramsey, New Jersey; from Bob G. Hughes of Somerville, Alabama; from Jeremy of Mt. Arlington, New Jersey; from Paul Tahan of Wayne, New Jersey; from Peg Zenko of Green Bay, Wisconsin;

UPDATED: November Northern Lights Gallery
[previous Novembers: 2008, 2007, 2006, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001]

Explore the Sunspot Cycle

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 November 12, 2009 there were 1079 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Nov. 2009 Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
2009 UK14
Nov. 1
9.1 LD
29 m
2006 JY26
Nov. 2
6.7 LD
10 m
2000 XK44
Nov. 4
28.8 LD
1.1 km
2009 VA
Nov. 6
0.05 LD
6 m
2000 UJ1
Nov. 7
43.3 LD
1.2 km
2009 VT1
Nov. 9
1.4 LD
6 m
2000 TO64
Nov. 10
44.2 LD
1.9 km
2009 UK20
Nov. 12
6.5 LD
20 m
2009 VX
Nov. 12
2.6 LD
26 m
2009 VR
Nov. 13
6.6 LD
10 m
2009 VC1
Nov. 18
6.0 LD
21 m
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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