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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Current conditions
Solar wind
speed: 466.8 km/sec
density: 1.2 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2345 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A2
2210 UT May20
24-hr: A5
0550 UT May20
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2340 UT
Daily Sun: 20 May 10
There are no sunspots on the Earth-facing side of the sun. Credit: SOHO/MDI
Sunspot number: 0
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 19 May 2010

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 11 days
2010 total: 32 days (22%)
2009 total: 260 days (71%)
Since 2004: 800 days
Typical Solar Min: 486 days
explanation | more info
Updated 19 May 2010

The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 69 sfu
explanation | more data
Updated 19 May 2010

Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
Planetary K-index
Now: Kp= 1 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 4
explanation | more data
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 5.2 nT
Bz: 1 nT south
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2346 UT
Coronal Holes:
Earth is inside a solar wind stream flowing from the indicated coronal hole, Credit: SOHO Extreme UV Telescope
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2010 May 20 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: 2010 May 20 2201 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
25 %
15 %
05 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
30 %
20 %
10 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
What's up in Space
May 20, 2010

NEW AND IMPROVED: Turn your iPhone or iPod Touch into a field-tested global satellite tracker. The Satellite Flybys app now works in all countries.


BIG MYSTERY: In a surprising development that has transformed the appearance of the solar system's largest planet, one of Jupiter's two main cloud belts has completely disappeared. Get the full story from Science@NASA.

MAGNETIC MEGA-FILAMENT: For the fourth day in a row, a dark magnetic filament is bisecting the sun's northeastern quadrant. Measuring more than 100,000 km from end to end, it is literally the biggest thing on the face of our star. NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory has a good view of the structure; click on the image to set the scene in motion:

Movie formats: 0.5 MB mpeg; 1 MB m4v (iPad); 0.5 MB m4v (iPhone)

The 2-hour time lapse movie recorded around 0600 UT on May 20th shows relatively cool plasma flowing through the filament's magnetic walls. Long, active filaments like this have been known to grow unstable and erupt, producing a type of spotless flare called a "Hyder flare." If that happens now, Earth would likely feel some effects from the blast because the filament is turning to face our planet. Readers with solar telescopes are encouraged to monitor developments.

SPACESHIPS IN THE SUN: Last Sunday, May 16th, in the blue skies of Spain, a pair of tiny shadows flitted across the sun. Astrophotographer Thierry Legault and his telescope were in the countryside outside Madrid, and this is what they saw:

"It was a solar transit of space shuttle Atlantis and the ISS," says Legault, who traveled from France to witness the event. "The time was 13:28 UT, about 50 minutes before docking. Atlantis had just begun the 'R-bar pitch maneuver'--a backflip that exposes the shuttle's heat-shield to the crew of the ISS for inspection."

Because of the high orbital velocity of the ISS, its occasional transits of the sun last no more than a split-second (0.54s in this case) and require considerable skill to catch. "I stationed myself near a small town named Saelices in a quiet area with nobody around," says Legault. "I prefer to be alone because I need the concentration!"

NASA's shuttle program is coming to an end later this year, and Atlantis is making her final scheduled voyage. For this reason, the STS-132 mission patch shows Atlantis heading into the sunset. There is, however, a possibility that Atlantis might fly again. If so, make that sunset a solar transit.

May 2010 Aurora Gallery
[previous Mays: 2008, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002] [aurora alerts]

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 May 20, 2010 there were 1127 potentially hazardous asteroids.
May 2010 Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
2010 JR34
May 14
5.8 LD
12 m
2003 HR32
May 17
55.2 LD
1.0 km
2010 JN71
May 26
8.2 LD
245 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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