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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Solar wind
speed: 333.3 km/sec
density: 0.5 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2345 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: B1
2335 UT Oct15
24-hr: B1
0035 UT Oct15
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2340 UT
Daily Sun: 15 Oct 10
A big new sunspot is emerging at the circled location. Credit: SDO/HMI. 2-day movie: 8 MB mpg
Sunspot number: 34
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 14 Oct 2010

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 0 days
2010 total: 45 days (16%)
2009 total: 260 days (71%)
Since 2004: 813 days
Typical Solar Min: 486 days
explanation | more info
Updated 14 Oct 2010

The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 80 sfu
explanation | more data
Updated 14 Oct 2010

Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
Planetary K-index
Now: Kp= 3 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 3
explanation | more data
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 5.3 nT
Bz: 2.0 nT north
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2345 UT
Coronal Holes: 15 Oct 10
A solar wind stream flowing from the indicated coronal hole could reach Earth on Oct. 19th or 20th. Credit: SDO/AIA.
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2010 Oct 15 2200 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: 2010 Oct 15 2200 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
15 %
05 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
20 %
10 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
Friday, Oct. 15, 2010
What's up in space

iPHONE VS ANDROID! Actually, it doesn't matter which phone you carry. Our cool, new app turns both smartphones into field-tested satellite trackers. Learn more.


AURORA WATCH: NOAA forecasters estimate a 20% chance of polar geomagnetic activity on Oct 15th when a CME is expected to brush past Earth. High-latitude sky watchers should be alert for auroras.

GREAT FILAMENT: The biggest thing on the sun today is not a sunspot--and it's not even close. A dark magnetic filament 20 times wider than a typical sunspot is meandering across the sun's southern hemisphere. It's so big, astrophotographer Pete Lawrence of Selsey, UK, had to stitch together several pictures to display the entire structure:

The filament is filled with relatively dense plasma held above the stellar surface by magnetic forces. Because this plasma is cooler than the sun below, it appears dark. In fact, it is not. If you could hold the filament out against the black of space, it would glow more brightly than a full Moon.

The 400,000-km scale of the filament--long enough to stretch from Earth to the Moon!--makes it an easy target for safely-filtered backyard optics. If you have a solar telescope, take a look.

more images: from Stephen Ramsden of Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic School, Atlanta, GA; from Jean-Pierre Brahic of Uzès ( France); from Michael Boschat of Halifax,Nova Scotia,Canada; from James Kevin Ty of Manila , Philippines; from the Solar Dynamics Observatory in Earth orbit; from Didier Favre of Brétigny-sur-Orge, France; from Ron Cottrell of Oro Valley, Arizona;

COMET HARTLEY UPDATE: "Comet 103P/Hartley 2 is growing at an amazing rate," reports Nick Howes of Cherhill, Wiltshire, UK. "The comet's atmosphere (coma) is now more than 1o wide." He took this picture on Oct. 13th using the 2-meter robotic Faulkes North Telescope in Hawaii:

Comet Hartley is approaching Earth for an 11-million-mile close encounter on Oct. 20th. Although it is barely visible to the naked eye, the comet looks great through backyard telescopes. The best time to look is during the dark hours before sunrise when the comet is almost straight overhead in the constellation Perseus. Check Sky & Telescope for a sky map and more.

Need a telescope for Comet Hartley 2? We recommend the David H. Levy Comet Hunter, specifically designed by comet-master David Levy for times like these.

more images: from Rolando Ligustri using a robotic telescope in New Mexico; from Mike Broussard of Maurice, Louisiana; from Fredrik Broms of Kvaløya, Norway; from Tamás Ábrahám of Zsámbék, Hungary; from Efrain Morales Rivera of Aguadilla, Puerto Rico; from P-M Hedén of Vallentuna, Sweden;

October 2010 Aurora Gallery
[previous Octobers: 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2004, 2003, 2002, 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 October 15, 2010 there were 1149 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Recent & Upcoming Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
2010 TQ19
Oct 8
9.6 LD
37 m
2010 TS19
Oct 10
3.7 LD
31 m
2010 TD54
Oct 12
0.1 LD
7 m
2010 TB54
Oct 13
6.1 LD
19 m
1999 VO6
Oct 14
34.3 LD
1.8 km
2010 TK
Oct 16
4.5 LD
37 m
1998 TU3
Oct 17
69.1 LD
5.2 km
2010 TG19
Oct 22
1.1 LD
70 m
1998 MQ
Oct 23
77.7 LD
1.9 km
2007 RU17
Oct 29
39.2 LD
1.1 km
2003 UV11
Oct 30
5 LD
595 m
3838 Epona
Nov 7
76.8 LD
3.4 km
2005 QY151
Nov 16
77.7 LD
1.3 km
2008 KT
Nov 23
5.6 LD
10 m
2002 EZ16
Nov 30
73.9 LD
1.0 km
2000 JH5
Dec 7
47 LD
1.5 km
2010 JL33
Dec 9
16.6 LD
1.3 km
2008 EA32
Jan 7
76.5 LD
2.1 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 web 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 Dynamics Observatory
  Researchers call it a "Hubble for the sun." SDO is the most advanced solar observatory ever.
  3D views of the sun from NASA's Solar and Terrestrial Relations Observatory
Solar and Heliospheric Observatory
  Realtime and archival images of the Sun from SOHO.
Daily Sunspot Summaries
  from the NOAA Space Environment Center
  the underlying science of space weather
Science Central
  more links...
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