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SpaceWeather.com -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
 
Solar wind
speed: 371.1 km/sec
density: 2.8 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2343 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: B8
2018 UT Oct03
24-hr: C7
0030 UT Oct03
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2300 UT
Daily Sun: 03 Oct 11
Decaying sunspot 1302 poses a diminishing threat for X-class solar flares. Credit: SDO/HMI
Sunspot number: 92
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 02 Oct 2011

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 0 days
2011 total: 2 days (<1%)
2010 total: 51 days (14%)
2009 total: 260 days (71%)
Since 2004: 821 days
Typical Solar Min: 486 days

Updated 02 Oct 2011


The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 131 sfu
explanation | more data
Updated 02 Oct 2011

Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
Credit: NOAA/POES
Planetary K-index
Now: Kp= 2 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 2
quiet
explanation | more data
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 5.1 nT
Bz: 0.7 nT north
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2345 UT
Coronal Holes: 03 Oct 11
Earth is entering a minor solar wind stream flowing from the indicated coronal hole. Credit: SDO/AIA.
SPACE WEATHER
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2011 Oct 03 2200 UTC
FLARE
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
CLASS M
20 %
15 %
CLASS X
05 %
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: 2011 Oct 03 2200 UTC
Mid-latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
ACTIVE
05 %
30 %
MINOR
01 %
15 %
SEVERE
01 %
05 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
ACTIVE
15 %
40 %
MINOR
05 %
30 %
SEVERE
01 %
05 %
 
Monday, Oct. 3, 2011
What's up in space
 

Metallic photos of the sun by renowned photographer Greg Piepol bring together the best of art and science. Buy one or a whole set. They make a stellar gift.

 
Metallic pictures of the Sun

CHINESE SPACE STATION: Last Thursday, China launched an experimental space station named Tiangong-1 (Heavenly Palace-1). The 8.5-ton module, about the size of a railroad car, will remain in orbit for two years as Chinese spacecraft perform rendevous and docking maneuvers, and Chinese astronauts visit for weeks at a time--all good practice for a larger outpost in the future. Check Spaceweather's Satellite Tracker for sighting opportunities. You can also turn your smartphone into a Tiangong-1 tracker by downloading the Simple Flybys app.

COMET AND CME: A comet discovered by amateur astronomers on Friday, Sept. 30th, disintegrated in spectacular fashion the very next day when it plunged into the sun. The Solar and Heliospheric Observatory recorded the comet's last hours. The end was punctuated by an unexpected explosion:

Watch the movie again. The timing of the CME so soon after the comet dove into the sun suggests a link. But what? There is no known mechanism for comets to trigger solar explosions. Before 2011 most solar physicists would have discounted the events of Oct. 1st as pure coincidence--and pure coincidence is still the most likely explanation. Earlier this year, however, the Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) watched another sungrazer disintegrate in the sun's atmosphere. On July 5, 2011, the unnamed comet appeared to interact with plasma and magnetic fields in its surroundings as it fell apart. Could a puny comet cause a magnetic instability that might propagate and blossom into a impressive CME? The question is not so crazy as it once seemed to be.

DOUBLE ERUPTION: On October 1st around 10:17 UT, widely-spaced sunspots 1302 and 1305 erupted in quick succession, revealing a long-distance entanglement which was not obvious before. NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) recorded the double blast:

Since it was launched in 2010, SDO has observed many "entangled eruptions." Active regions far apart but linked by magnetic fields can explode one after another, with disturbances spreading around the stellar surface domino-style. Saturday's eruption appears to be the latest example.

The part of the eruption centered on sunspot 1305 hurled a coronal mass ejection toward Earth. The relatively slow-moving (500 km/s) cloud is expected to reach our planet on Oct. 4th or 5th, possibly causing geomagnetic storms when it arrives. High-latitude sky watchers should be alert for auroras. Geomagnetic storm alerts: text, voice.

September 2011 Aurora Gallery
[previous Septembers: 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004]

TODAY'S BONUS SHOTS: Winged Sunspot from Deepak Dogra of New Delhi, India; Spotted Sunset from Claudio Balella of the San Marino Republic in Italy; The Sun in Motion from Jerome Grenier of Paris, France; Moonlit Meteor from Paul Martini of Joshua Tree, California;

  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 3, 2011 there were 1250 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Recent & Upcoming Earth-asteroid encounters:
Asteroid
Date(UT)
Miss Distance
Mag.
Size
2011 SO5
Sep 29
5.5 LD
--
34 m
2011 SM173
Sep 30
0.8 LD
--
12 m
2011 TP
Oct 4
7.4 LD
--
23 m
2002 AG29
Oct 9
77.1 LD
--
1.0 km
2011 SE97
Oct 12
7.9 LD
--
50 m
2011 SS25
Oct 12
69.3 LD
--
1.1 km
2000 OJ8
Oct 13
49.8 LD
--
2.4 km
2009 TM8
Oct 17
0.9 LD
--
8 m
2011 FZ2
Nov 7
75.9 LD
--
1.6 km
2005 YU55
Nov 8
0.8 LD
--
175 m
1994 CK1
Nov 16
68.8 LD
--
1.5 km
1996 FG3
Nov 23
39.5 LD
--
1.1 km
2003 WM7
Dec 9
47.6 LD
--
1.5 km
1999 XP35
Dec 20
77.5 LD
--
1.0 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.
STEREO
  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
Heliophysics
  the underlying science of space weather
Science Central
 
Conquest Graphics
  for out-of-this-world printing and graphics
Trade Show Displays
   
  more links...
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