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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Solar wind
speed: 351.5 km/sec
density: 1.3 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2345 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A7
1930 UT Oct08
24-hr: B1
0500 UT Oct08
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2340 UT
Daily Sun: 08 Oct 10
There are no sunspots on the Earth-facing side of the sun. Credit: SDO/HMI. 2-day movie: 7 MB mpg
Sunspot number: 0
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 07 Oct 2010

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 3 days
2010 total: 44 days (16%)
2009 total: 260 days (71%)
Since 2004: 812 days
Typical Solar Min: 486 days
explanation | more info
Updated 07 Oct 2010

The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 75 sfu
explanation | more data
Updated 07 Oct 2010

Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
Planetary K-index
Now: Kp= 0 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 3
explanation | more data
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 4.4 nT
Bz: 2.8 nT south
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2345 UT
Coronal Holes: 08 Oct 10
A minor solar wind stream flowing from this small coronal hole could hit Earth's magnetic field on or about Oct. 9th. Credit: SDO/AIA. 2-day movie: 20 MB mpg
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2010 Oct 08 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: 2010 Oct 08 2200 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
10 %
15 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
15 %
20 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
Friday, Oct. 8, 2010
What's up in space

iPHONE VS ANDROID! Actually, it doesn't matter which phone you carry. Our cool, new app turns both smartphones into field-tested satellite trackers. Learn more.


ONE YEAR UNTIL THE METEOR OUTBURST: Every year around Oct. 8th, Earth passes through a minefield of dusty debris from Comet Giacobini-Zinner, source of the annual Draconid meteor shower. This year, forecasters expect Earth to narrowly miss several of the debris streams, resulting in no appreciable display for 2010. Next year, however, could be different. On Oct. 8, 2011, Earth will have a near head-on collision with a tendril of dust, setting off a strong outburst of as many as 750 meteors per hour. People in Europe, Africa and the Middle East will have a front-row seat for what could be the strongest shower since the Leonid storms a decade ago. Mark your calendar and, meanwhile, follow these links for more information: Draconid forecasts; sky map; history;

SDO SEES MOUNTAINS ON THE MOON: Yesterday, Oct. 7th, NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory observed its first lunar transit when the new Moon passed directly between the spacecraft and the sun. SDO's 16 megapixel cameras recorded the event in detail, revealing jagged lunar mountains backlit by solar plasma:

Beyond the novely of observing a such an event from space, these images have practical value to the SDO science team. Karel Schrijver of Lockheed-Martin's Solar and Astrophysics Lab explains: "The very sharp edge of the lunar limb allows us to measure the in-orbit characteristics of the telescope--e.g., light diffraction on optics and filter support grids. Once these are characterized, we can use that information to correct our data for instrumental effects and sharpen up the images to even more detail."

Ralph Seguin, also of Lockheed-Martin, has prepared a movie of the transit which shows the Moon interrupting an eruption on the sun's northwestern horizon. Watch it again. Did you notice the brief blackout near the beginning of the movie? That was the Earth passing in front of the sun just before the Moon did--a double solar eclipse!

COMET HARTLEY UPDATE: As comet 103P/Hartley 2 approaches Earth for an 11-million-mile close encounter on Oct. 20th, it grows bigger and bigger in backyard telescopes. The comet's beautiful green atmosphere now subtends an angle approximately equal to a lunar sea:

Paul Klauninger of Marathon, Ontario, took the picture on Oct. 2nd using a 3-inch refracting telescope. "I photographed the Moon with the same set-up and placed it beside the comet for scale," he says. "In a five minute exposure the comet appears bright green and 7-8 arcminutes across."

Most observers agree that the comet is not yet visible to the naked eye, but may be found using binoculars. Tonight the comet is located a mere 1o from the photogenic Double Cluster in Perseus. Details and a sky map are available from from Sky & Telescope.

more images: from John Buonomo of Billerica, MA; from Nick Howes of Cherhill, Wiltshire, UK; from Pete Lawrence of Selsey, West Sussex, UK; from Paul Evans of Larne, Northern Ireland; from Mike Holloway of Van Buren, Arkansas; from Saied Bahrami Nejad of Kerman, Iran; from Håkon Dahle of Fjellhamar, Norway; from P-M Hedén of Vallenuna, Sweden; from Francisco A. Rodriguez of Cabreja Mountain Observatory, Canary Islands; from John Stetson of Portland, Maine; from Masa Nakamura of Mito, Ibaraki, Japan; from Bill McMullen of Clarence-Rockland, Ontario;

Sept. 2010 Northern Lights Gallery
[previous Septembers: 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004, 2002, 2001, 2000]

  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, 2010 there were 1149 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Recent & Upcoming Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
2010 TQ19
Oct 8
9.6 LD
37 m
1999 VO6
Oct 14
34.3 LD
1.8 km
2010 TK
Oct 16
4.5 LD
39 m
1998 TU3
Oct 17
69.1 LD
5.2 km
1998 MQ
Oct 23
77.7 LD
1.9 km
2007 RU17
Oct 29
39.2 LD
1.1 km
2003 UV11
Oct 30
5 LD
595 m
3838 Epona
Nov 7
76.8 LD
3.4 km
2005 QY151
Nov 16
77.7 LD
1.3 km
2008 KT
Nov 23
5.6 LD
10 m
2002 EZ16
Nov 30
73.9 LD
1.0 km
2000 JH5
Dec 7
47 LD
1.5 km
2010 JL33
Dec 9
16.6 LD
1.3 km
2008 EA32
Jan 7
76.5 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 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
Current Solar Images
  from the National Solar Data Analysis Center
Science Central
  more links...
2010 Perseid meteor shower
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space weather alerts
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Superior Labels - Out of this World!
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satellite tracking
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