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SpaceWeather.com -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
SPACE WEATHER
Current conditions
Solar wind
speed: 344.4 km/sec
density: 0.1 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2344 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A0
2340 UT Sep02
24-hr: A0
2340 UT Sep02
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2340 UT
Daily Sun: 02 Sept. 09
Tiny sunspot 1025 is rapidly fading away. Its decaying corpse may be seen in this magnetogram. Photo credit: SOHO/MDI
Sunspot number: 12
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 01 Sept 2009

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 0 days
2009 total: 193 days (79%)
Since 2004: 704 days
Typical Solar Min: 485 days
explanation | more info
Updated 01 Sept 2009

Far side of the Sun:
This holographic image reveals a possible sunspot on the far side of the sun--but it is not real. It is a noisy artifact of the data processing. The sun remains blank. Image credit: SOHO/MDI
Planetary K-index
Now: Kp= 1 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 2
quiet
explanation | more data
Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
Credit: NOAA/POES
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 1.9 nT
Bz: 1.3 nT north
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2345 UT
Coronal Holes:
A solar wind stream flowing from the indicated coronal hole could reach Earth on Sept. 3rd or 4th. Credit: SOHO Extreme UV Telescope
SPACE WEATHER
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2009 Sep 02 2201 UTC
FLARE
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
CLASS M
01 %
01 %
CLASS X
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 Sep 02 2201 UTC
Mid-latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
ACTIVE
05 %
05 %
MINOR
01 %
01 %
SEVERE
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
ACTIVE
05 %
05 %
MINOR
01 %
01 %
SEVERE
01 %
01 %
What's up in Space
September 2, 2009

AURORA ALERT: Did you miss the Northern Lights? In July they descended as far south as Nebraska. Next time get a wake-up call: Spaceweather PHONE.

 

VANISHING MOONS OF JUPITER: Tonight, Sept. 2nd-3rd, for the first time in many years, the moons of Jupiter are going to disappear. At least that's how it will seem when Io, Europa, Ganymede and Callisto line up in front of and behind the giant planet. A casual look through a backyard telescope will show no moons at all. The 2-hour vanishing act begins at 9:43 p.m PDT. Jupiter is easy to find right beside the nearly full Moon. [sky map] [animation] [full story]

GEOMAGNETIC MEGA-STORM: On Sept. 2nd, a billion-ton coronal mass ejection (CME) slammed into Earth's magnetic field. Campers in the Rocky Mountains woke up in the middle of the night, thinking that the glow they saw was sunrise. No, it was the Northern Lights. People in Cuba read their morning paper by the red illumination of aurora borealis. Earth was peppered by particles so energetic, they altered the chemistry of polar ice.

Hard to believe? It really happened--exactly 150 years ago. This map shows where auroras were sighted in the early hours of Sept. 2, 1859:


Above: Aurora sightings, Sept. 2, 1859. Image courtesy J.L. Green, NASA

As the day unfolded, the gathering storm electrified telegraph lines, shocking technicians and setting their telegraph papers on fire. The "Victorian Internet" was knocked offline. Magnetometers around the world recorded strong disturbances in the planetary magnetic field for more than a week.

The cause of all this was an extraordinary solar flare witnessed the day before by British astronomer Richard Carrington. His sighting marked the discovery of solar flares and foreshadowed a new field of study: space weather. According to the National Academy of Sciences, if a similar flare occurred today, it would cause $1 to 2 trillion in damage to society's high-tech infrastructure and require four to ten years for complete recovery.

A repeat of the Carrington Event seems unlikely from our low vantage in a deep solar minimum--but don't let the quiet fool you. Strong flares can occur even during weak solar cycles. Indeed, the Carrington flare itself occured during a relatively weak cycle similar to the one expected to peak in 2012-2013. Could it happen again? Let's hope not.

August 2009 Aurora Gallery
[previous Augusts: 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001]

TWO SPACESHIPS: Space shuttle Discovery is docked to the International Space Station (ISS) and together the two spaceships are putting on a good show in the night sky. Peter Rosén caught them flying over Stockholm, Sweden, just before sunrise on August 31st:

"The mission is getting a lot of media coverage here because of our Swedish astronaut Christer Fuglesang," says Rosén.

On Monday,Fuglesang helped unload more than 15,000 lb (Earth weight) of supplies from Discovery's cargo bay. Much of that weight was laboratory equipment. Astronauts are outfitting the space station's science labs with a -80 degree research freezer; a rack of hardware to study crystals and semiconductors in low gravity; and a new set of tools for microgravity fluid physics experiments. NASA says this mission marks an important transition. The space station's "Under Construction" sign is coming down and its world-class science labs are ramping up.

That's worth a look. Check the Simple Satellite Tracker for flybys.


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 September 2, 2009 there were 1068 potentially hazardous asteroids.
August 2009 Earth-asteroid encounters:
Asteroid
Date(UT)
Miss Distance
Mag.
Size
2009 MC9
Aug. 7
70.3 LD
16
1.2 km
2009 OF
Aug. 8
15.4 LD
18
220 m
2007 RQ17
Aug. 9
8.4 LD
17
130 m
2000 LC16
Aug. 17
75.6 LD
14
2.0 km
2006 SV19
Aug. 21
59.2 LD
16
1.3 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.
STEREO
  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...
   
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