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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Solar wind
speed: 387.9 km/sec
density: 3.1 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2347 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: C1
1719 UT Oct08
24-hr: M2
1117 UT Oct08
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2259 UT
Daily Sun: 08 Oct 12
None of these sunspots is strongly flaring. Credit: SDO/HMI
Sunspot number: 37
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 08 Oct 2012

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 0 days
2012 total: 0 days (0%)
2011 total: 2 days (<1%)
2010 total: 51 days (14%)
2009 total: 260 days (71%)
Since 2004: 821 days
Typical Solar Min: 486 days

Update 08 Oct 2012

The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 98 sfu
explanation | more data
Updated 08 Oct 2012

Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
Planetary K-index
Now: Kp= 4 unsettled
24-hr max: Kp= 6
explanation | more data
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 16.3 nT
Bz: 15.3 nT south
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2346 UT
Coronal Holes: 08 Oct 12
solar wind flowing from the indicated coronal hole should reach Earth on Oct. 9-10. Credit: SDO/AIA.
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2012 Oct 08 2235 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
05 %
10 %
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: 2012 Oct 08 2235 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
35 %
20 %
20 %
10 %
05 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
20 %
15 %
25 %
20 %
35 %
25 %
Monday, Oct. 8, 2012
What's up in space

Listen to radar echoes from satellites and meteors, live on listener-supported Space Weather Radio.

Spaceweather Radio is on the air

DRACONID METEOR OUTBURST IS SUBSIDING: An outburst of more than 1000 meteors per hour on Oct. 8th is subsiding now. The Canadian Meteor Orbit Radar (CMOR) detected the surge in activity around 16:00 UT as Earth was passing through a network of debris streams from comet 21P/Giacobini-Zinner, source of the annual Draconid meteor shower. The outburst appears to have been caused by a filament of comet dust shed by Giacobini-Zinner in the year 1959. "This event follows in the grand tradition of short, intense Draconid outbursts," says Bill Cooke of NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office. Visual reports of the outburst are sparse, which suggests it was faint--i.e, better seen by a radar than by the human eye. Stay tuned for updates. [CMOR radar data] [sky map] [Submit: reports or photos]

CME HITS EARTH'S MAGNETIC FIELD, SPARKS AURORAS: As expected, a coronal mass ejection (CME) hit Earth's magnetic field on Oct. 8th at approximately 0500 UT. The impact sparked a moderate (Kp=6) geomagnetic storm and Northern Lights in the USA as far south as Kansas, Utah and Colorado. In New Auburn, Wisconsin, photographer Justin Phillips recorded this rare self-portrait backlit by auroras:

"I went outside at 3:30 am and caught the peak of the storm," he says. "It was maybe the best show I've ever seen."

Although the storm is subsiding, high-latitude sky watchers should remain alert for auroras as Earth's magnetic field continues to reverberate from the CME strike. Aurora alerts: text, voice.

Realtime Aurora Photo Gallery

SOLAR FLARE: This morning, Oct. 8th at 1117 UT, a solar flare erupted on the northeastern edge of the sun's disk. NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory recorded the extreme ultraviolet flash:

The explosion heralds the arrival of a farside active region, which will turn toward Earth later this week. Amateur astronomers with solar telescopes should train their optics on the NE limb, and stay tuned for action.

Realtime Space Weather Photo Gallery

AURORAS AND DINOFLAGELLATES: On Oct 7th, Frank Olsen went to the beach outside Sortland, Norway to photograph the colors of aurora borealis in the sky. He also found some strange colors at his feet. The beach was aglow with bioluminescent dinoflagellates:

"I was photographing the auroras when the Noctilucales washed up on the beach," says Olsen. "The moonlight was a nice bonus."

There is an interesting link between the auroras and the dinoflagellates. Both use oxygen to create their glow. In the case of the marine organism, a chemical pigment (luciferin) reacts with oxygen to create light. Meanwhile up in the sky, charged particles from the solar wind rain down on the atmosphere, colliding with oxygen molecules to create the telltale green hue of auroras.

Realtime Aurora Photo Gallery

Realtime Noctilucent Cloud Photo Gallery
[previous years: 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011]

  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 8, 2012 there were 1331 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Recent & Upcoming Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
2012 SJ58
Oct 3
5.9 LD
26 m
1998 UO1
Oct 4
60.1 LD
2.1 km
2012 TV
Oct 7
0.7 LD
40 m
2012 TC4
Oct 12
0.2 LD
22 m
2005 GQ21
Oct 12
77 LD
1.0 km
1998 ST49
Oct 18
28.7 LD
1.3 km
1991 VE
Oct 26
34 LD
1.1 km
2001 CV26
Oct 30
68 LD
2.4 km
2007 PA8
Nov 5
16.8 LD
2.4 km
2010 JK1
Nov 25
9.3 LD
56 m
2009 LS
Nov 28
55.2 LD
1.1 km
2009 BS5
Dec 11
8.4 LD
15 m
4179 Toutatis
Dec 12
18 LD
2.7 km
2003 SD220
Dec 23
59.8 LD
1.8 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
Space Weather Alerts
  more links...
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