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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Science news and information about the Sun-Earth environment.


Solar Wind
speed: 340.3 km/s
7.7 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2245 UT

X-ray Solar Flares

6-hr max:
B1 1925 UT Sep09
24-hr: B3 0720 UT Sep09
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2245 UT

Daily Sun: 09 Sep '06

These sunspots pose no threat for strong solar flares. Credit:

Sunspot Number: 49
What is the sunspot number?
Updated: 08 Sep 2006

Far Side of the Sun

This holographic image reveals one possibly-large sunspot on the far side of the sun. Image credit: SOHO/MDI

Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 4.0 nT
0.2 nT south
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2247 UT

Coronal Holes:

There are no large coronal holes on the Earth-facing side of the sun today. Credit: NOAA GOES-13.


Solar Flares: Probabilities for a medium-sized (M-class) or a major (X-class) solar flare during the next 24/48 hours are tabulated below.
Updated at 2006 Sep 09 2203 UTC
FLARE 0-24 hr 24-48 hr
CLASS M 10 % 10 %
CLASS X 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 2006 Sep 09 2203 UTC
0-24 hr 24-48 hr
ACTIVE 10 % 15 %
MINOR 05 % 05 %
SEVERE 01 % 01 %

High latitudes
0-24 hr 24-48 hr
ACTIVE 15 % 20 %
MINOR 05 % 10 %
SEVERE 01 % 01 %

What's Up in Space -- 9 Sep 2006
Subscribe to Space Weather News

Aurora season is beginning. Are you ready? Check out Spaceweather PHONE.

IS EARTH A PLANET? According to IAU Resolution 5A (from "Definition of a Planet in the Solar System"), to be a planet, a world must have "cleared the neighborhood around its orbit." Is this a problem for Earth? There are a lot of near-Earth asteroids out there. One of them is passing by Earth right now: 2006 QQ56 is a small corkscrew asteroid that lingers harmlessly near Earth for months at a time as it circles the sun in a remarkably Earth-like orbit. Planet or not? You decide.

SHUTTLE LAUNCH: Space shuttle Atlantis blasted into orbit today at 11:15 am EDT. High above Earth, NOAA's GOES-12 satellite was looking down on Florida at the moment of launch and photographed the shuttle's exhaust:

The shuttle's main engines are very clean-burning; they spew water vapor. These exhaust vapors turn into a long icy cloud tracing the path of the shuttle through the atmosphere. The cloud is twisted by high-altitude winds; that's why it looks crooked in the GOES-12 image. Icy vapors from the shuttle have been tracked as far from Florida as the North Pole and may contribute to the formation of mysterious noctilucent clouds.

Editor's note: Thank you, Jeff Umbarger of Plano, Texas, for bringing the GOES-12 image to our attention.

LUNAR ECLIPSE: On Sept. 7th, a fraction of Earth's shadow fell onto the Moon, producing a partial lunar eclipse visible from Europe to Australia. When the shadowy Moon rose over France, Laurent Laveder photographed his friend Sabine holding up a hoop. Why was she doing that? (continued below)

See more of Laveder's Moon pictures

"The hoop traces the outline of Earth's shadow," explains Laveder. The "umbra" is the dark core of the shadow, while the "penumbra" is its pale fringe. This eclipse is partial because only the tip-top of the Moon has disappeared into the umbra.

Sept 7th Lunar Eclipse Gallery
UPDATED Sept. 9, 2006

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 9 Sep 2006 there were 803 known Potentially
Hazardous Asteroids

Aug-Sept 2006 Earth-asteroid encounters




2006 QM111

Aug 31

0.4 LD


13 m
2006 QQ56

Sept. 2

7.9 LD


29 m
2006 QV89

Sept. 5

7.9 LD


40 m
Notes: LD is a "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 Environment Center -- The official U.S. government bureau for real-time monitoring of solar and geophysical events, research in solar-terrestrial physics, and forecasting solar and geophysical disturbances.

Atmospheric Optics -- the first place to look for information about sundogs, pillars, rainbows and related phenomena. See also Snow Crystals.

Solar and Heliospheric Observatory -- Realtime and archival images of the Sun from SOHO. (European Mirror Site)

Daily Sunspot Summaries -- from the NOAA Space Environment Center.

Current Solar Images --a gallery of up-to-date solar pictures from the National Solar Data Analysis Center at the Goddard Space Flight Center. See also the GOES-12 Solar X-ray Imager.

Recent Solar Events -- a nice summary of current solar conditions from

List of Potentially Hazardous Asteroids -- from the Harvard Minor Planet Center.

Observable Comets -- from the Harvard Minor Planet Center.

What is the Interplanetary Magnetic Field? -- A lucid answer from the University of Michigan. See also the Anatomy of Earth's Magnetosphere.

Real-time Solar Wind Data -- from NASA's ACE spacecraft. How powerful are solar wind gusts? Read this story from Science@NASA.

More Real-time Solar Wind Data -- from the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory Proton Monitor.

Lists of Coronal Mass Ejections -- from 1998 to 2001

Mirages: Mirages in Finland; An Introduction to Mirages;

NOAA Solar Flare and Sunspot Data: 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999; 2000; 2001; 2002; 2003; 2004; 2005; Jan-Mar 2006;

Space Audio Streams: (University of Florida) 20 MHz radio emissions from Jupiter: #1, #2, #3, #4; (NASA/Marshall) INSPIRE: #1; (Stan Nelson of Roswell, New Mexico) meteor radar: #1, #2;

Recent International Astronomical Union Circulars


This site is penned daily by Dr. Tony Phillips: email

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