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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Current conditions
Solar wind
speed: 313.9 km/sec
density: 0.8 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2345 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: B1
2315 UT May27
24-hr: B1
2315 UT May27
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2340 UT
Daily Sun: 27 May 10
Sunspot 1072 is quiet and poses little threat for strong solar flares. Credit: SOHO/MDI
Sunspot number: 11
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 26 May 2010

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 0 days
2010 total: 33 days (22%)
2009 total: 260 days (71%)
Since 2004: 801 days
Typical Solar Min: 486 days
explanation | more info
Updated 26 May 2010

The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 72 sfu
explanation | more data
Updated 26 May 2010

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: 2.0 nT
Bz: 1.0 nT north
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2346 UT
Coronal Holes:
A solar wind stream flowing from the indicated coronal hole could reach our planet on or about May 31st. Credit: SDO/AIA
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2010 May 27 2221 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: 2010 May 27 2221 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
50 %
40 %
15 %
10 %
05 %
05 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
50 %
45 %
25 %
20 %
15 %
10 %
What's up in Space
May 27, 2010

NEW AND IMPROVED: Turn your iPhone or iPod Touch into a field-tested global satellite tracker. The Satellite Flybys app now works in all countries.


FULL FLOWER MOON: There's a full Moon tonight and according to folklore it has a special name: the Flower Moon. In the northern hemisphere, spring flowers are abundant in May, and the full Moon illuminates them beautifully after sunset. Take a look!

AURORA ALERT: High-latitude sky watchers should be alert for auroras tonight. A coronal mass ejection (CME) is heading for Earth and it could spark geomagnetic storms when it arrives on May 27th or 28th. The following preview comes directly from the geographic South Pole:

J. Dana Hrubes, who is wintering over at the pole as science leader of the Amundsen Scott Station, took the picture on May 20th. "It shows green and violet auroras swirling over the IceCube Neutrino Observatory," says Hrubes. When fully constructed, the NSF-sponsored observatory will use a cubic kilometer of south polar ice to catch and detect elusive neutrinos from distant black holes, supernovas and gamma-ray bursts. For now it makes nice foreground scenery for the Southern Lights.

May 2010 Aurora Gallery
[previous Mays: 2008, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002] [aurora alerts]

X-37B FLARE: Last night, amateur astronomer Scott Ferguson witnessed an "X-37B flare." As the space plane glided across the night sky of Bradenton, Florida, "it brightened to be at least twice the brightness of Arcturus. I'd say it was about magnitude -0.8 at the peak of the flare," he reports. Sunlight must be occasionally glinting from a flat surface--perhaps the bottom or doors of the space plane's payload bay. Readers, turn your cell phone into a space plane tracker and be alert for flares.

SECRET SPACE PLANE: NASA's space shuttle program may be winding down, but the US Air Force's is just getting started. On April 22nd, the USAF launched an unmanned mini-shuttle from Cape Canaveral on a secret mission widely thought to involve reconnaissance. The X-37B can now be seen gliding through the night sky shining about as brightly as the stars of the Big Dipper. Last Sunday night, Gary O. photographed it streaking over the treetops of his home in Fort Davis, Texas:

"This was my first chance to photograph the X-37B," says Gary. "It was easy to see. I estimate its magnitude at about +2.8."

The whereabouts of the X-37B were unknown until May 20th when amateur satellite watchers Greg Roberts of Cape Town, South Africa, and Kevin Fetter of Brockville, Canada, independently spotted it. Another satellite sleuth, Ted Molczan of Toronto, Canada, combined their observations to determine the space plane's orbit. With this information in hand, Fetter was able to find the X-37B again the next night; here it is on May 21st passing the 3rd-magnitude star Sadalsuud in Aquarius.

Ready to see for yourself? You can turn your iPhone into a secret shuttle tracker, or check our Simple Satellite Tracker for X-37B flyby times. Readers who photograph the X-37B are invited to submit images here.

more images: from Brent of Orlando, Florida; from Scott Ferguson of Bradenton, Florida

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 27, 2010 there were 1127 potentially hazardous asteroids.
May 2010 Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
2010 JR34
May 14
5.8 LD
12 m
2003 HR32
May 17
55.2 LD
1.0 km
2010 JN71
May 26
8.2 LD
245 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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