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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Current conditions
Solar wind
speed: 366.2 km/sec
density: 1.6 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2346 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A3
2035 UT Jul06
24-hr: B8
1705 UT Jul06
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2340 UT
Daily Sun: 06 July 09
New-cycle sunspot 1024 is growing rapidly and crackling with B-class solar flares. Credit: SOHO/MDI
Sunspot number: 26
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 05 July 2009

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 0 days
2009 total: 142 days (77%)
Since 2004: 653 days
Typical Solar Min: 485 days
explanation | more info
Updated 05 July 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= 2 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 2
explanation | more data
Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 3.8 nT
Bz: 1.9 nT south
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2346 UT
Coronal Holes:
A solar wind stream flowing from this high-latitude coronal hole will probably miss Earth. Credit: SOHO Extreme UV Telescope
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2009 Jul 06 2201 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
05 %
05 %
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 Jul 06 2201 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
05 %
05 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
05 %
05 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
What's up in Space
July 6, 2009

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


SPACE STATION MARATHON: This week, the International Space Station is making a remarkable series of flybys over the United States. It's a veritable marathon. Once, twice and sometimes three times a day, people can see the massive outpost cutting across the starry sky. Check the Simple Satellite Tracker for flyby times.

SUDDEN SUNSPOT: What a difference 48 hours can make. Only two days ago the sun was blank and calm, displaying the sort of unrelenting quiet we've come to expect from the deepest solar minimum in a century. Then, with startling rapidity, sunspot 1024 burst onto the scene: movie. Unlike other recent "sun-specks", this active region is a full-fledged sunspot group with more than a dozen planet-sized dark cores, crackling with B- and C-class solar flares.

"Sunspot 1024 is putting on a spectacular show," says amateur astronomer David Tyler of Buckinghamshire UK, who caught it in mid-flare on July 5th:

"This is the best sunspot I've seen in two years," agrees Michael Buxton of Ocean Beach, California. "Here is a one-hour time lapse movie of activity in the sunspot's core. It is exciting to watch."

The magnetic polarity of sunspot 1024 identifies it as a member of new Solar Cycle 24. That makes sense. New research shows that solar jet streams are beginning to stimulate new-cycle sunspot production. Sunspot 1024 appears to be a sign of the process at work, heralding more to come. Monitoring is encouraged.

more images: from Stefano Sello of Pisa, Italy; from Therese van Nieuwenhoven of Laukvik, Lofoten islands, Norway; from Pete Lawrence of Selsey, West Sussex, UK; from T. Emerson and J. Stetson of South Portland, Maine; from Pavol Rapavy of Observatory Rimavska Sobota, Slovakia; from Britta Suhre of Dortmund, Germany; from Deirdre Kelleghan of Bray, Co Wicklow Ireland; from Roman Vanur of Nitra, Slovakia; from Ehsan Rostamizadeh of Kerman, Iran; from Leslie Marczi of Welland, Ontario, Canada; from Rolando De Michiel of Bonnet Bay, Sydney, Australia

PALE BLUE SUN: For the third day in a row, citizens of Iran are finding themselves in a fog of blowing sand and dust. "A huge sandstorm hit Tehran yesterday," reports Farzad Zamanfar. "To my amazement, this caused the sun to turn blue." He photographed the phenomenon using his Canon 5D:

Yes, dust storms can turn the sun blue. It happens when the storm contains many particles about 1 micron (millionth of a meter) in diameter. This is just the right size to make the cloud of dust act as a blue color filter. Dust can cloud the night sky, too. Iranian sky watchers should be alert for blue Moons after sunset.

more images: from Mohamad Soltanolkottabi of Esfahan, Iran

2009 Sarychev Sunset Gallery
[See also: 2008 Kasatochi Sunset Photo Gallery]

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

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 July 6, 2009 there were 1065 potentially hazardous asteroids.
July 2009 Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
2009 MM8
July 13
11.4 LD
53 m
2008 NP3
July 18
11.8 LD
87 m
2006 TU7
July 20
14.2 LD
175 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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