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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Current conditions
Solar wind
speed: 426.3 km/sec
density: 7.2 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2344 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: B1
1745 UT Jan12
24-hr: C1
1320 UT Jan12
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2340 UT
Daily Sun: 12 Jan. 10
Sunspot 1040 (a.k.a. old sunspot 1035) is a member of new Solar Cycle 24. Image credit: SOHO/MDI
Sunspot number: 35
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 10 Jan 2010

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 0 days
2010 total: 1 day (10%)
2009 total: 260 days (71%)
Since 2004: 772 days
Typical Solar Min: 485 days
explanation | more info
Updated 10 Jan 2010

The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 84 sfu
explanation | more data
Updated 10 Jan 2010

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= 2
explanation | more data
Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 3.8 nT
Bz: 2.5 nT south
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2345 UT
Coronal Holes:
A solar wind stream flowing from the indicated coronal hole should reach Earth on Jan. 12th or 13th. Credit: SOHO Extreme UV Telescope
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2010 Jan 12 2201 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
15 %
15 %
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 Jan 12 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
January 12, 2010

SATELLITE FLYBYS APP: Turn your iPhone or iPod into a field-tested satellite tracker! presents the Satellite Flybys app.


CURIOUS FLYBY: A curious object is about to fly past Earth only 130,000 km (0.3 lunar distances) away. Catalogued as a 10m-class asteroid, 2010 AL30 has an orbital period of almost exactly 1 year. This raises the possibility that it might not be a natural object, but rather a piece of some spacecraft from our own planet. At closest approach on Jan. 13th, 2010 AL30 will streak through Orion, Taurus, and Pisces glowing like a 14th magnitude star. Experienced amateur astronomers are encouraged to monitor the flyby: ephemeris.

images: from E. Guido and G. Sostero using a remotely-controlled telescope in New Mexico; from Dennis Simmons of Brisbane, Australia;

ACTIVE SUNSPOT: Sunspot 1040 is still growing. During the past two days it has doubled in size--and then doubled again--to produce an active region with more than 25 dark cores and a tangled magnetic field. Dennis Simmons sends this picture of the behemoth from Brisbane, Australia:

"Sweltering under the Australian sun at over 31o C, I had to wipe the perspiration from my eyes while attempting to obtain sharp focus through Earth's shimmering atmosphere," says Simmons. "It didn’t help that I had my head under a blanket to block out the bright sunlight that was washing out the display on my Notebook computer! In the end, technology and software allowed me to obtain some reasonable results. It is an impressive sunspot."

Sunspot 1040 is a member of new Solar Cycle 24, and its appearance continues a recent trend of intensifying solar activity. NOAA forecasters say there is a 15% chance of an isolated M-class solar flare during the next 24 hours. Readers with solar telescopes should be alert for eruptions.

more images: from Michael Wilk of Augsburg, Germany; from Bob van Slooten of Amersfoort, Netherlands; from Andy Yeung of Hong Kong

SUN FLOWER: For the past week, much of the northern hemisphere has been in the grip of paralyzing cold. Some people say it's a hardship. Holly Miller-Pollack prefers to think of it as a photo op:

"This morning, everything was covered in frost so I went out to take a few pictures," she says. "This one came out looking like a sunflower."

"Also, look just above the sun," she points out. "The clouds are shining with iridescent colors." That is a result of the cold, too. Tiny ice crystals in the cloud diffract sunlight to produce the pastel hues.

Ice in the air. Ice on the ground. Add a dash of sunlight and voila!--a lovely snapshot. Browse the links below for additional examples.

more images: from Peter Rosén of Stockholm, Sweden; from Andrew Greenwood of Kerridge Ridge on the edge of the Peak District, UK; from Lance Parrish near Cantwell, Alaska; from Andrew Kirk of Bishop, California; from Tyler Burg of Omaha, Nebraska; from Pete Miller of Cumbernauld, Scotland; from Evan Ludes of Omaha, Nebraska; from Martin Popek of Nýdek, Czech republic; from John Napper of East Hagbourne, Oxfordshire, UK;

UPDATED: January Northern Lights Gallery
[previous Januarys: 2009, 2008, 2007, 2005, 2004, 2001]

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 January 12, 2010 there were 1092 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Jan. 2010 Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
2010 AL2
Jan. 11
11.5 LD
23 m
24761 Ahau
Jan. 11
70.8 LD
1.4 km
2000 YH66
Jan. 12
69.5 LD
1.1 km
2010 AL30
Jan. 13
0.3 LD
18 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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