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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Current conditions
Solar wind
speed: 372.3 km/sec
density: 1.9 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2339 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A0
1920 UT May23
24-hr: A0
0735 UT May23
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2340 UT
Daily Sun: 23 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= 2 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 2
explanation | more data
Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 5.3 nT
Bz: 3.3 nT north
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2346 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 23 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 23 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 23, 2009

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


SHUTTLE LANDING POSTPONED: Space shuttle Atlantis will remain in orbit one more day. Mission controllers waved off today's landing attempt because of bad weather at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The astronauts will try again on Sunday, May 24th. The first landing opportunity is at 10:11 a.m. EDT. [more]

NEW SUNSPOT: Magnetic fields are emerging from beneath the sun's surface to form a new sunspot near the southeastern limb. "It looks a little angry," says Pete Lawrence, who photographed the active region on May 22nd from his backyard observatory in Selsey UK:

The magnetic polarity of the sunspot identifies it as a member of new Solar Cycle 24, which forecasters expect to peak in May 2013. That makes this little spot a herald of things to come. Readers with solar telescopes, take a look; today you can see sunspot genesis in action.

more images: from N. Lavoie and J. Stetson of South Portland, Maine; from Cai-Uso Wohler of Bispingen, Germany; 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;

MIDNIGHT SUN: In northern Finland, aurora season is officially over. "We now have sunshine 24 hours a day," reports Sauli Koski of Kittila, Finland, at latitude 68 deg. N. "Here are some rays from last night's midnight sun."

"The combination of snow clouds and sunbeams made a great display!" he says. "I took the picture using my Nikon D3x."

Ten days from now, around June 2nd, a solar wind stream is due to hit Earth. The impact could spark a geomagnetic storm and auroras around the Arctic Circle. If so, no one will see them. With midnight sunbeams like these, it's possible no one will mind.

more midnight suns: from Kent Grundstad of Bodoe, Norway

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 23, 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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