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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Solar wind
speed: 529.4 km/sec
density: 1.8 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2316 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: B5
2023 UT May17
24-hr: B5
2023 UT May17
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2300 UT
Daily Sun: 17 May 11
None of these sunspotts poses a threat for strong flares. Credit: SDO/HMI
Sunspot number: 63
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 16 May 2011

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 0 days
2011 total: 1 day (<1%)
2010 total: 51 days (14%)
2009 total: 260 days (71%)
Since 2004: 820 days
Typical Solar Min: 486 days

Updated 16 May 2011

The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 92 sfu
explanation | more data
Updated 16 May 2011

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: 4.4 nT
Bz: 0.8 nT south
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2332 UT
Coronal Holes: 17 May 11
Earth is inside a solar wind stream flowing from the indicated coronal hole. Credit: SDO/AIA.
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2011 May 17 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: 2011 May 17 2200 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
10 %
05 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
15 %
05 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
Tuesday, May. 17, 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

DARK MATTER SHUTTLE MISSION: Space shuttle Endeavour is racing around Earth in pursuit of the International Space Station. When Endeavour reaches the ISS on Wednesday, May 18th, the crew will begin to unload the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer, a $1.5 billion cosmic ray detector that could reveal the nature of dark matter and find whole galaxies made of antimatter. Truly, this is an experiment worthy of Endeavour's final flight.

The mission began on Monday with a spectacular liftoff into clouds over the Kennedy Space Center:

"The launch was as difficult to image as it was beautiful to watch," says photographer Pete Lardizabal. "From Apollo Beach we saw it enter the clouds over the Cape and exit into blue skies. What a view!"

During the two-week mission, Endeavour and the ISS will make numerous appearances in the night sky, especially over North America and Australia. Would you like to see this shuttle one last time? Turn your cell phone into a field-tested shuttle tracker.

more images: from Mike Reynolds at the KSC press site; from Valmir Martins de Morais of Juazeiro do Norte, CearĂ¡, Brazil; from Kosma Coronaios of Louis Trichardt, Limpopo Province, South Africa

MORNING PLANETS: The Great Morning Planet Show of May 2011 is only half over. There are still 14 mornings to go. The show's second act began on May 16th with three bright planets hovering over space shuttle Endeavour:

"I witnessed the launch of Endeavour early Monday morning and was greeted by this scene when I arrived at NASA's VIP viewing site on Banana Creek," says photographer Tom Cocchiaro of the New Hampshire Astronomical Society. "It was as though the Gods were watching over Endeavour as it sat perched on the launch pad in the early twilight hours. Too cool for words."

There are more cool sights in the mornings ahead. Check Science@NASA's "Better than Coffee" for details. A video version is available, too.

more images: from Russell Cockman flying 39,000 feet above central Australia;

NEW SATELLITE TRACKING TOOL: Have you ever wondered, what's orbiting over your head right now? A new satellite-tracking tool called WhatSat can answer that question for you. It's an app for Android phones that tells you what's overhead, helps you find satellites in the night sky, and "tags" satellites you've seen. Many satellite-tracking tools are available, but none is quite like this; view the demo video to learn what makes WhatSat unique.

April 2011 Aurora Gallery
[previous Aprils: 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002]

  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 May 17, 2011 there were 1224 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Recent & Upcoming Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
2011 HC24
May 12
5.9 LD
58 m
2009 BD
Jun 2
0.9 LD
10 m
2002 JB9
Jun 11
71.5 LD
3.2 km
2001 VH75
Jun 12
42.2 LD
1.1 km
2004 LO2
Jun 15
9.9 LD
48 m
2011 GA55
Jul 6
64.1 LD
1.0 km
2011 EZ78
Jul 10
37.3 LD
1.6 km
2003 YS117
Jul 14
73.9 LD
1.0 km
2007 DD
Jul 23
9.3 LD
31 m
2009 AV
Aug 22
49.7 LD
1.1 km
2003 QC10
Sep 18
50 LD
1.2 km
2004 SV55
Sep 19
67.5 LD
1.2 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
Conquest Graphics
  for out-of-this-world printing and graphics
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Science Central sponsor
  more links...
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