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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Solar wind
speed: 368.4 km/sec
density: 2.7 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2342 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: B7
1943 UT Nov23
24-hr: C2
1328 UT Nov23
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2300 UT
Daily Sun: 23 Nov 11
Sunspot 1356 has a "beta-gamma" magnetic field that harbors energy for M-class solar flares. Credit: SDO/HMI
Sunspot number: 132
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 22 Nov 2011

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 0 days
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 Nov 2011

The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 142 sfu
explanation | more data
Updated 22 Nov 2011

Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
Planetary K-index
Now: Kp= 1 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 2
explanation | more data
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 7.9 nT
Bz: 0.9 nT south
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2345 UT
Coronal Holes: 23 Nov 11
There are no large coronal holes on the Earthside of the sun. Credit: SDO/AIA.
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2011 Nov 23 2200 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
30 %
30 %
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: 2011 Nov 23 2200 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
04 %
04 %
01 %
01 %
00 %
00 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
14 %
14 %
12 %
12 %
06 %
06 %
Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2011
What's up in space

Metallic photos of the sun by renowned photographer Greg Piepol bring together the best of art and science. Buy one or a whole set. They make a stellar gift.

Metallic pictures of the Sun

SIGNS OF LIFE FROM MARS PROBE: Russia's Phobos-Grunt spacecraft, launched on a mission to Mars on Nov. 8th, has been stuck in Earth orbit for the past two weeks after its main engines failed to fire. Moreover, ground controllers have not been able to contact the $165 million probe. Today, for the first time, signals were received from Phobos-Grunt, raising hopes of saving the mission. News reports: #1, #2, #3.

CHANCE OF FLARES: Earth-facing sunspot 1356 has developed a "beta-gamma" magnetic field that harbors energy for M-class solar flares. NOAA forecasters estimate a 30% chance of such an eruption during the next 24 hours. Solar flare alerts: text, phone.

ERUPTION: A magnetic filament wrapping around the sun's NW limb rose up and erupted today. Click on the arrow to play the movie recorded by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory:

The eruption hurled a cloud of plasma (a "CME") into space but not toward Earth. Because of the blast site's high-northern location on the sun, the cloud flew up and out of the plane of the solar system; no planets will be affected.

NORTHERN LIGHTS: After a stunning October, the Northern Lights of November 2011 have been mostly subdued. Earth hasn't been hit hard by any CMEs this month. Nevertheless, some auroras have been sighted dancing around the Arctic Circle. Eric Rock was on a wildlife photography expedition on Nov. 21st when this curtain appeared over Churchill, Manitoba:

"We end-of-the-season polar bear watchers were rewarded with a spectacular display," says Rock.

There was a similar apparition last night over Russia: image.

These displays are not caused by major solar activity; indeed, the sun has been mostly quiet for weeks. Instead, they are prompted by small magnetic fluctuations in the solar wind. The interplanetary magnetic field (IMF) near Earth tips south, partially cancelling Earth's north-pointting magnetic field. Solar wind pours in, oh so briefly, to excite the Northern Lights.

ANTARCTIC SOLAR ECLIPSE: On Nov. 25th the Moon will pass in front of the sun, slightly off-center, producing a partial solar eclipse visible from Antarctica, Tasmania, and parts of South Africa and New Zealand. An animated map created by graphic artist Larry Koehn shows the eclipse unfolding across the southern end of our planet:

Maximum coverage occurs about 100 miles off the coast of Antarctica where the sun will appear to be a slender 9% crescent. Observers in the eclipse zone should be alert for crescent-shaped shadows and sunbeams. The sun-dappled ground beneath leafy trees is a good place to look. Of course that won't work in Antarctica where trees are scarce. Observers there should use safe solar filters to witness the crescent sun itself.

  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 November 23, 2011 there were 1256 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Recent & Upcoming Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
2011 FZ2
Nov 7
75.9 LD
1.6 km
2005 YU55
Nov 8
0.8 LD
400 m
2011 UT91
Nov 15
9.9 LD
109 m
1994 CK1
Nov 16
68.8 LD
1.5 km
1996 FG3
Nov 23
39.5 LD
1.1 km
2003 WM7
Dec 9
47.6 LD
1.6 km
1999 XP35
Dec 20
77.5 LD
1.0 km
2000 YA
Dec 26
2.9 LD
80 m
2011 SL102
Dec 28
75.9 LD
1.1 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
Science Central
Trade Show Displays
  more links...
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