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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Current conditions
Solar wind
speed: 355.9 km/sec
density: 10.2 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2346 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A0
2340 UT Apr08
24-hr: A0
0550 UT Apr08
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2340 UT
Daily Sun: 08 Apr 09
The sun is blank--no sunspots. Credit: SOHO/MDI
Sunspot number: 0
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 08 Apr 2009

NEW: Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 13 days
2009 total: 85 days (87%)
Since 2004: 596 days
Typical Solar Min: 485 days
explanation | more info
Updated 08 Apr 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
What is the auroral oval?
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 4.7 nT
Bz: 3.2 nT south
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2347 UT
Coronal Holes:
A solar wind stream flowing from the indicated coronal hole should reach Earth on April 9th or 10th. Credit: SOHO Extreme UV Telescope
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2009 Apr 08 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 Apr 08 2201 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
35 %
30 %
10 %
05 %
05 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
35 %
35 %
15 %
10 %
05 %
05 %
What's up in Space
April 8, 2009

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


MISSION MADNESS: Step aside, Neil Armstrong. Move over, Hubble. NASA's 2009 Mission Madness tournament is done and the winner is ... the Super Pressure Balloon. Dubbed "NASA's Greatest Mission" by tournament voters, the balloon is wider than one and a half football fields and is able to carry experiments weighing as much as 1000 lbs to the edge of space. Researchers can use it to monitor cosmic rays, map radio echoes of the Big Bang, search for planets around distant stars, and much more. Very cool! But greater than a Moon landing? Mission Madness, indeed.

AURORA WATCH: High-latitude sky watchers should be alert for auroras on April 9th and 10th. That's when a solar wind stream is due to hit Earth, possibly sparking magnetic storms around the Arctic Circle. The Moon will be full on April 9th, but moonlight is not necessarily a problem:

Sylvain Serre took the picture on April 7th from the snowy wilds of Nunavik, Canada. "We had a clear sky and a beautiful Moon," he says. The moonlit landscape was a perfect complement to the auroras overhead.

NOAA forecasters estimate a 35% chance of geomagnetic activity in the next 24 hours. Stay tuned for Northern Lights.

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

SULFUR DIOXIDE LOOP: (Updated April 8th) A loop of sulfur dioxide gas more than 600 miles in diameter is swirling off the coast of California. It came from Alaska where Mt. Redoubt unleashed its biggest eruption yet on April 4th. Click on the image to launch a 5-day animation of the volcano's SO2 emissions spanning April 3rd through 7th:

Data source: The GOME-2 sensor onboard Europe's MetOp-A satellite

The April 4th eruption produced a long plume of stratospheric SO2 which has since split. Half is drifting across the northern reaches of Canada and the Great Lakes. The other half is having a close encounter with the Pacific coast of North America. If you live in these areas, be alert for rare colors and rays in the evening sky. Sulfur dioxide and associated aerosols can produce fantastic sunsets.

more images: from Ken Scott on the shore of Lake Michigan south of Leland, Michigan; from Tom Woods of Honesdale, Pennsylvania

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 April 8, 2009 there were 1050 potentially hazardous asteroids.
April 2009 Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
2009 FU30
Apr. 2
8.8 LD
44 m
2004 VC
Apr. 3
51.3 LD
785 m
2002 EB3
Apr. 10
41.3 LD
1.3 km
2003 SG170
Apr. 19
57.7 LD
1.2 km
2009 FJ30
Apr. 24
9.7 LD
130 m
2001 VG5
Apr. 26
58.5 LD
2.1 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 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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