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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Current conditions
Solar wind
speed: 310.4 km/sec
density: 2.0 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2346 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A0
1810 UT Sep29
24-hr: A3
1125 UT Sep29
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2340 UT
Daily Sun: 29 Sept. 09
Sunspot 1027 is a member of new Solar Cyle 24. Photo credit: SOHO/MDI
Sunspot number: 15
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 28 Sept 2009

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 0 days
2009 total: 212 days (79%)
Since 2004: 723 days
Typical Solar Min: 485 days
explanation | more info
Updated 28 Sept 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= 1 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 1
explanation | more data
Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 1.4 nT
Bz: 1.0 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 Oct. 2nd. Credit: SOHO Extreme UV Telescope
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2009 Sep 29 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 Sep 29 2201 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
05 %
10 %
01 %
05 %
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
05 %
15 %
01 %
05 %
01 %
01 %
What's up in Space
September 29, 2009

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


COSMIC RAYS HIT SPACE AGE HIGH: NASA spacecraft are measuring record-high levels of cosmic rays--a side-effect of the deepest solar minimum in nearly a century. This development could have implications for the amount of shielding astronauts need to take when they explore deep space. Science@NASA has the full story.

PRETTY SKY ALERT: Tonight when the sun goes down, step outside and look up. You might see something like this:

"The Moon and Jupiter are very close together tonight," says Monika Landy-Gyebnar, who took this picture just hours ago from Veszprém, Hungary. "The beautiful pair of the evening sky twinkled brightly above our town's viaduct, no matter how the streetlights tried to overshine them."

There's nothing astronomically significant about this meeting of heavenly lights--just very pretty. Don't miss it: sky map.

more images: from Mustafa Erol of Antalya, Turkey; from Jens Hackmann of Bad Mergentheim, Germany; from M. Raşid Tuğral of Ankara-Turkiye; from Peter von Bagh of Porvoo, Finland; from Giuseppe Pappa of Mascalucia, Sicily, Italy; from Christophe Stolz of near Bern, Switzerland

SPACE WEATHER ON MERCURY: Today, NASA's MESSENGER spacecraft is going to fly by Mercury only 142 miles from the planet's surface. Naturally, much attention will be given to pictures of new craters and previously unseen terrain, but there is another, equally sensational reason for the flyby--namely, to investigate Mercury's hyperactive space weather:

Mercury's magnetic field is buffeted by solar wind as much as fifteen times stronger than the solar wind we experience at Earth. During an earlier flyby of Mercury in Oct. 2008, MESSENGER encountered magnetic "tornadoes" – twisted bundles of magnetic fields connecting Mercury to interplanetary space. The twisters are formed by explosive magnetic reconnection events at the solar wind-magnetic field boundary. Solar wind can actually flow down the throats of these tornadoes to strike and erode the surface of Mercury, giving Mercury a comet-like tail.

MESSENGER will fly right through this maelstrom of magnetism and solar wind en route to buzzing Mercury's surface. Stay tuned for data!

Sept. 2009 Aurora Gallery
[previous Septembers: 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004, 2002, 2001]

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 29, 2009 there were 1076 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Sept. 2009 Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
2009 QC35
Sept. 2
2.9 LD
35 m
2009 RY3
Sept. 11
1.9 LD
50 m
2009 RR
Sept. 16
2.8 LD
33 m
2009 RG2
Sept. 21
9.1 LD
31 m
2009 HD21
Sept. 29
22.9 LD
1.0 km
1998 FW4
Sept. 29
8.6 LD
550 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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