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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Current conditions
Solar wind
speed: 399.9 km/sec
density: 1.0 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2345 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A0
2340 UT Feb01
24-hr: A0
2340 UT Feb01
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2340 UT
Daily Sun: 01 Feb 09
The sun is blank--no sunspots. Credit: SOHO/MDI
Sunspot number: 0
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 30 Jan. 2009
Far side of the Sun:
This holographic image reveals no sunspots on the far side of the sun. Image credit: SOHO/MDI
Planetary K-index
Now: Kp= 0 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 2
explanation | more data
Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
What is the auroral oval?
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 1.7 nT
Bz: 1.2 nT north
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2346 UT
Coronal Holes:
A solar wind stream flowing from the indicated coronal hole should reach Earth on or about Feb. 4th. Credit: SOHO Extreme UV Telescope
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2009 Feb 01 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 Feb 01 2201 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
01 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
05 %
05 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
What's up in Space
February 1, 2009

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


VOLCANO WATCH: Seismic activity continues at Alaska's Mount Redoubt volcano and geologists say an eruption could occur at any moment. The last time an Alaskan volcano blew its top (Kasatochi in August 2008), about a million tons of ash and sulfur dioxide flooded the stratosphere, causing fantastic sunsets around the northern hemisphere and possibly reducing Earth's temperature by a fraction of a degree. More SO2 is in the offing. Stay tuned for updates.

AURORA ROCKET: On Thursday night, Jan. 29th, researchers at the Poker Flat Research Range in Alaska launched a pair of rockets directly into the Northern Lights. Lance Parrish saw the first launch through the window of his home in Skiland, dashed for his camera (a Nikon D3), and returned just in time to catch the second rocket:

"I took the pictures hand held through the window, which explains the lousy quality and double track of the rocket," he says.

The name of the mission Parrish witnessed is "ACES," short for Auroral Current and Electrodynamics Structure. University of Iowa physicists designed the experiment: Two rockets fly more than 200 miles high into an auroral arc. The first rocket measures electric currents and fields at the top edge of the arc while the second rocket makes the same measurements at the bottom edge. Researchers hope the data will help them explain the origin of shapes (arcs, curtains, sheets) that make Northern Lights so mesmerizing. According to the University of Iowa, the rockets collected so much data, the results may take a full year to analyze. Stay tuned.

UPDATED: Jan. 2009 Aurora Gallery
[Previous Januaries: 2008, 2007, 2005, 2004, 2001]

SKI HALOS: What do you do when you see a skier flying through a sundog? Simple. Execute a hockey stop, take off your gloves, extract a digital camera from the folds of your snow suit, and--click!--photograph the split-second encounter:

Skiing photographer Ivar Matheson did everything right on Jan. 27th when he took the picture above. "I was at the Åre ski resort in Sweden. It was a sunny day and the air was filled with ice crystals. This gave rise to an impressive display of luminous sun halos, sundogs, sub-sundogs, subsuns, upper and lower sun pillars and tangent arcs." The complete collection is a must-see.

Going skiing? Be alert for "ski halos"--and practice your hockey stop.

Comet Lulin Photo Gallery
[Comet Hunter telescope] [sky map] [ephemeris]

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 February 1, 2009 there were 1019 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Feb. 2009 Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
2009 BK58
Feb. 2
1.7 LD
30 m
2009 BW2
Feb. 5
8.4 LD
40 m
2009 BE58
Feb. 10
8.6 LD
225 m
2006 AS2
Feb. 10
9.2 LD
370 m
2009 BL58
Feb. 11
4.8 LD
55 m
1999 AQ10
Feb. 18
4.4 LD
390 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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