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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Current conditions
Solar wind
speed: 301.4 km/sec
density: 0.4 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2344 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A0
2025 UT May26
24-hr: A0
2025 UT May26
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2340 UT
Daily Sun: 26 May 09
The sun is blank--no sunspots. Credit: SOHO/MDI
Sunspot number: 0
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 24 May 2009

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 2 days
2009 total: 118 days (81%)
Since 2004: 629 days
Typical Solar Min: 485 days
explanation | more info
Updated 24 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= 1
explanation | more data
Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 1.5 nT
Bz: 1 nT south
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2346 UT
Coronal Holes:
There are no large equatorial coronal holes on the Earth-facing side of the sun. Credit: SOHO Extreme UV Telescope
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2009 May 26 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 26 2201 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
10 %
10 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
10 %
10 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
What's up in Space
May 26, 2009

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


SPACE STATION FLARES: Lately, a growing number of observers are reporting intense "flares" coming from the International Space Station (ISS). A typical sighting begins with a normal, sedate flyby: The station soars overhead, cutting silently through the stars with no hint that something extraordinary is about to happen. Then, a startling explosion of light boosts the station's luminosity 10-fold or more. Some observers have witnessed flares of magnitude -8 or twenty-five times brighter than Venus.

On May 22nd, Dutch amateur astronomer Quintus Oostendorp watched a flare through his backyard telescope. A movie he recorded using his Canon 1000D shows what happened:

Click to view a 0.7 MB Quicktime movie

The bright flash is sunlight glinting off the station's enormous solar arrays. Earlier this year, on March 20th, astronauts unfurled a new pair of arrays on the space station's starboard side, adding 8000 sq. feet of light-catching surface area to the station's profile. The extra area increases both the chances and the luminosity of flares. "It is a spectacular sight!" says Oostendorp.

No one knows when they will happen or how bright they will be. That's what makes the hunt for "space station flares" so much fun. Check the Simple Satellite Tracker for flyby times--and let the hunt begin!

more flares: from Rafael Schmall of Hungary, Somogy, Kaposfo; from Kevin Kell of Yarker, Ontario, Canada; from Martin Gembec of Litice nad Orlici, Czech Republic; from Nicolas Biver of Versailles, France

SUNSET MOON: When the sun goes down tonight, step outside and look west. You might see something like this:

Marek Nikodem of Szubin, Poland, took the picture last night using a Nikon D700. "The Moon was only 31 hours past new," he says. "It was a lovely crescent!"

Only one day older and a few percent wider, the crescent Moon will be back again this evening. Browse the photos for a preview:

moon shots: from Andrew Dallow of Darfield, New Zealand; from Marcin Grzybowski of Poland; from Luca Basili of Rome, Italy; from Tamas Ladanyi in the Bakony mountains of Hungary; from Janie Shur and J. Stetson of Sebago Lake, Maine; from Gonzalo Vargas of Cochabamba, Bolivia; from Catalin M. Timosca of Turda, Romania; from Ugur Ikizler of Mudanya, Turkey; from Ramon Lane of Torrevieja, Spain; from Abraham Tamas of Zsámbék, Hungary; from P-M Hedén of Vallentuna, Sweden; from Günther Strauch of Borken, NRW, Germany; from Stefano De Rosa of Turin, Italy; from Joseph M. Golebieski of Toms River, New Jersey; from Michael Boschat of Halifax, Nova Scotia;

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 26, 2009 there were 1060 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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