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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Solar wind
speed: 630.4 km/sec
density: 0.2 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2346 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: B5
1830 UT May23
24-hr: C1
0027 UT May23
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2300 UT
Daily Sun: 23 May 12
None of the sunspots on the Earthside of the sun is actively flaring. Solar activity is low. Credit: SDO/HMI
Sunspot number: 95
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 22 May 2012

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 0 days
2012 total: 0 days (0%)
2011 total: 2 days (<1%)
2010 total: 51 days (14%)
2009 total: 260 days (71%)
Since 2004: 821 days
Typical Solar Min: 486 days

Updated 22 May 2012

The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 121 sfu
explanation | more data
Updated 22 May 2012

Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
Planetary K-index
Now: Kp= 2 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 5
explanation | more data
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 2.6 nT
Bz: 1.7 nT north
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2347 UT
Coronal Holes: 23 May 12
There are no large coronal holes on the Earthside of the sun. Credit: SDO/AIA.
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2012 May 23 2200 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
10 %
10 %
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: 2012 May 23 2200 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
25 %
05 %
15 %
01 %
05 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
30 %
10 %
20 %
05 %
05 %
01 %
Wednesday, May. 23, 2012
What's up in space

It's a once in a lifetime event: the June 5th Transit of Venus across the sun. Watch the world wide webcast sponsored by the Coca-Cola Science Center and NASA.

Venus Transit Live

QUIET SUN: With no sunspots actively flaring, the sun's x-ray output has flatlined. Solar activity is low, and likely to remain so for the next 24 hours.

DRAGON SIGHTINGS: NASA officials are calling it a turning point in space exploration. Yesterday, a commercial rocket, SpaceX's Falcon 9, blasted off from Cape Canaveral on a mission to re-supply the International Space Station. As the Falcon 9 roared into the sky, Brent of Orlando, Florida, photographed its fiery exhaust through his backyard telescope:

"What a neat launch!" he says. "I was able to see it from 60 miles away."

The rocket propelled SpaceX's Dragon spacecraft into orbit, where it is now chasing the ISS around Earth. Docking is expected on May 25th. The Dragon is carrying about 1,200 pounds of supplies (mainly food and clothing) for the crew of the station. The spacecraft can hold 7,300 pounds of material, but because this is a test flight, the manifest was limited.

Are you ready to see the Dragon? It is flying over North America during the hours before dawn. Check Space Weather's Simple Satellite Tracker or your cellphone for sighting opportunities.

SOLAR WIND SPARKS AURORAS: A high-speed solar wind stream is buffeting Earth's magnetic field, and this is causing intermittent auroras at high latitudes. First contact with the stream on May 22nd turned the sky over Cumbria, United Kingdom, deep purple:

"The sky was bright because of twilight, but we could still see these faint auroras," says photographer Jon Cooper.

This is not a major space weather event. Nevertheless, more auroras are in the offing. NOAA forecasters estimate a 15% to 20% chance of storms around the poles as the solar wind continues to blow. Aurora alerts: text, voice.

more images: from Darryl Van Gaal of Horwood Lake Lodge, Timmins, Ontario; from Horace Smith of Clinton County, Michigan; from Steve Irvine of Big Bay, ON, Canada; from Dirk S. Miller of Rice Lake, Wisconsin.

FANTASTIC ECLIPSE: The Moon passed in front of the sun on Sunday, May 20th, producing a deep solar eclipse visible across the Pacific side of Earth. Sunlight dimmed, the air cooled, ordinary sunbeams turned into fat crescents and rings of light. And the sunset was definitely different. Jacob Thumberger sends this picture from Gail, Texas:

Many more pictures of the eclipse may be found in our new realtime photo gallery. It's an experimental service, so feel free to report problems. Start clicking for rings of fire:

Space Weather Real Time Image Gallery
[Submit your photos] [NASA video: Solar Eclipse over the USA]

  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, 2012 there were 1293 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Recent & Upcoming Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
2012 KA
May 17
0.6 LD
9 m
2010 KK37
May 19
2.3 LD
31 m
4183 Cuno
May 20
47.4 LD
5.7 km
2012 KW
May 21
3.4 LD
19 m
2012 JV11
May 22
6.7 LD
68 m
2012 KT12
May 23
1.4 LD
25 m
2002 VX94
May 26
72.8 LD
1.1 km
2002 AC
Jun 16
62.2 LD
1.2 km
1999 BJ8
Jun 16
68.8 LD
1.1 km
2005 GO21
Jun 21
17.1 LD
2.2 km
2003 KU2
Jul 15
40.2 LD
1.2 km
2004 EW9
Jul 16
46.8 LD
2.1 km
2002 AM31
Jul 22
13.7 LD
1.0 km
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 web 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 Dynamics Observatory
  Researchers call it a "Hubble for the sun." SDO is the most advanced solar observatory ever.
  3D views of the sun from NASA's Solar and Terrestrial Relations Observatory
Solar and Heliospheric Observatory
  Realtime and archival images of the Sun from SOHO.
Daily Sunspot Summaries
  from the NOAA Space Environment Center
  the underlying science of space weather
Trade Show Displays
  more links...
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