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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Current conditions
Solar wind
speed: 394.5 km/sec
density: 0.2 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2346 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A0
2340 UT May22
24-hr: A0
0720 UT May22
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2340 UT
Daily Sun: 22 May 09
A new sunspot is emerging at the circled location. Credit: SOHO/MDI
Sunspot number: 11
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 22 May 2009

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 0 days
2009 total: 116 days (83%)
Since 2004: 627 days
Typical Solar Min: 485 days
explanation | more info
Updated 22 May 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= 1 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 2
explanation | more data
Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 5.7 nT
Bz: 2.5 nT north
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2347 UT
Coronal Holes:
There are no coronal holes on the Earth-facing side of the sun. Credit: SOHO Extreme UV Telescope
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2009 May 22 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 May 22 2201 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
05 %
05 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
10 %
10 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
What's up in Space
May 22, 2009

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


SUNSPOT ALERT: The sun is not blank. A new sunspot is emerging near the sun's southeastern limb. Its high latitude suggests it is a member of new Solar Cycle 24. Photos: from Sjoerd Dufoer of Oostkamp, Belgium; from Cai-Uso Wohler of Bispingen, Germany; from Pete Lawrence of Selsey, West Sussex, UK; from N. Lavoie and J. Stetson of South Portland, Maine

DARK FILAMENT: Astronomers are monitoring a dark filament of magnetism on the sun. "The filament is very dynamic and a tremendous amount of detail can be seen," reports observer Pete Lawrence. He made this movie and took the picture below using a SolarScope SF-70 at his backyard observatory in Selsey UK.

The dark material in the filament is a mixture of hydrogen and helium gas, seemingly dark because it is cooler than the inferno below. In fact, if you could hold the filament up against the night sky, it would glow fiery red with the luminosity of a full Moon, Sometimes filaments become unstable and collapse. When they crash down onto the surface of the sun, the result is a type of solar flare called a Hyder flare. So far this filament is holding steady, which means you still have time to observe it. Readers with solar telescopes, point your optics here.

more images: from Didier Favre of Brétigny sur Orge, France; from Christophe Behaegel of Vilvoorde, Belgium; from Keith Davies of Swansea, South Wales, UK; from Günther Strauch of Borken, NRW, Germany; from Mike Borman of Evansville, Indiana;

HOOPS: Sun halos were once regarded as omens of bad weather, but now we know that is not true. They are really omens of bad basketball:

Two days after Jun Lao photographed this 22-degree halo circumscribing a backboard in Mason, Ohio, his state's professional basketball team, the Cleveland Cavaliers, lost the first game of the NBA's Eastern Conference finals to the underdog Orlando Magic. Led by the league's MVP, Lebron James, and enjoying a nearly invincible home court advantage, the Cavs were mysteriously defeated.

Coincidence? Lao explains what really happened: "A cold front passed through our area yesterday and left behind some wispy, icy clouds." Ice crystals in the clouds bent the rays of the sun into a luminous halo as shown. It had nothing to do with basketball.

Nevertheless, Cleveland fans may wish to keep an eye on the sky. The next game is tonight.

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

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 May 22, 2009 there were 1056 potentially hazardous asteroids.
May 2009 Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
2009 JA
May 4
7.5 LD
37 m
2006 FG3
May 6
60.7 LD
1.1 km
2001 SG286
May 17
11.5 LD
280 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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