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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Current conditions
Solar wind
speed: 371.5 km/sec
density: 1.6 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2344 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A0
1925 UT May24
24-hr: A0
1925 UT May24
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2340 UT
Daily Sun: 24 May 09
Yesterday's sunspot (number 1018) has faded away. Credit: SOHO/MDI
Sunspot number: 0
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 23 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 23 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: 3.4 nT
Bz: 1.1 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 24 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 24 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 24, 2009

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


ATLANTIS LANDS IN CALIFORNIA: Space shuttle Atlantis landed today at 8:39 a.m. PDT at Edwards Air Force Base in California, completing the final servicing mission to the Hubble Space Telescope. Atlantis' astronauts conducted five successful spacewalks during their STS-125 flight. The improvements and repairs they made to the orbiting observatory will extend Hubble's life to 2014 and possibly beyond. [more]

BUSY SUN: The sun is still in the pits of a deep solar minimum. Lately, however, attentive observers of solar activity have noticed a certain "busy-ness" on the solar disk. Eric Roel sends this May 23rd snapshot from his backyard observatory in Valle de Bravo, Mexico:

Captured in the photo are five dark magnetic filaments, an emerging sunspot, and a fiery prominence dancing along the solar limb. By the stormy standards of Solar Max, this is a very quiet sun, but it shows signs of life not seen in many months of ongoing solar minimum. According to a panel of NOAA and NASA experts, Solar Cycle 24 will awaken in late 2009 or early 2010 and surge to a peak in May 2013. This could be the beginning.

more images: from Alan Friedman of Buffalo, NY; from Matthias Juergens of Gnevsdorf, Germany; from Mike Strieber of Las Vegas, NV; from Steve Wainwright of Swansea South Wales UK; from Didier Favre of Br├ętigny-sur-Orge, France;

HELICOPTER GLORY: When flying over a cloud-topped volcano on a sunny day, don't forget to look down at your shadow. This photo submitted by adventure photographer Mila Zinkova shows why:

"Last week we took a helicopter over Mauna Loa on the Big Island of Hawaii," says Zinkova. "On the clouds below, our shadow was surrounded by a colorful solar glory."

Glories are rings of light around your shadow. They are caused by sunlight reflected backwards from water droplets in the clouds. Exactly how backscattering produces the colorful rings is a mystery involving surface waves and multiple reflections within individual droplets. Each sighting is a puzzle--all the more reason to seek them out.

Helicopters and volcanoes are not required for glories. All you need is a high perch and moist clouds. Look for them on mountains and hillsides, from aircraft and in sea fog and even indoors.

more images: from Arnaudet Patrice high above the French Alps; from Valentin Grigore flying over Switzerland, Austria, Hungary and Romania;

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 24, 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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