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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Current conditions
Solar wind
speed: 298.7 km/sec
density: 2.3 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2346 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A0
2045 UT Nov04
24-hr: A0
2045 UT Nov04
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2340 UT
Daily Sun: 04 Nov. 09
The Earth-facing side of the sun is blank--no sunspots. Photo credit: SOHO/MDI
Sunspot number: 0
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 03 Nov 2009

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 4 days
2009 total: 236 days (77%)
Since 2004: 747 days
Typical Solar Min: 485 days
explanation | more info
Updated 03 Nov 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= 0 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 0
explanation | more data
Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 3.8 nT
Bz: 3.1 nT north
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2347 UT
Coronal Holes:
A solar wind stream flowing from the indicated coronal hole should reach Earth on or about Nov. 6th. Credit: SOHO Extreme UV Telescope
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2009 Nov 04 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 Nov 04 2201 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
15 %
05 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
30 %
10 %
20 %
01 %
05 %
01 %
What's up in Space
November 4, 2009

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


TAURID METEOR SHOWER: Earth is entering a stream of debris from periodic Comet 2P/Encke, and this is causing the annual Taurid meteor shower. The shower has a broad maximum lasting from Nov. 5th through 12th. At most, only about 5 Taurids per hour streak across the sky, but what they lack in number they make up for in dazzle. Taurid meteors tend to be fireballs, very bright and slow. Look for them falling out of the constellation Taurus during the hours around midnight. [sky map]

meteor images: from John Chumack of Dayton, Ohio

MERCURY'S COMET-LIKE TAIL: The ultrathin atmosphere of Mercury is blown back by solar radiation pressure, forming an enormous comet-like tail. NASA's MESSENGER spacecraft flew through that tail on Sept. 29th and found it less enormous than it used to be. The following diagram compares the situation in Oct. 2008 vs. Sept. 2009:

Red traces the distribution of sodium atoms detected by a spectrometer onboard MESSENGER. "The neutral sodium tail, so prominent in our first two flybys of Mercury, is now significantly reduced in extent," announced planetary scientist Ron Vervack at a NASA press conference yesterday.

The material in Mercury's tail comes from the surface of the planet itself, which is blasted by solar wind and micrometeorites. During MESSENGER's recent flyby of Mercury, the net effect of solar radiation pressure was small, and the sodium atoms were not accelerated away from the sun as they were during the earlier flybys, resulting in a diminished planetary tail. That's space weather. Get the full story from Science@NASA.

WHAT ARE THE ODDS? A ray of light leaves the sun, travels 93 million miles, bounces off some moondust, angles toward Earth, travels another quarter million miles to Switzerland, where it threads a 10-meter hole in the Alps and passes through the lens of an onlooker's digital camera. This series of seemingly improbable events actually happened on Oct. 29th. The onlooker, Ricklin Andreas of Elm, Switzerland, took a picture to prove it:

"The full Moon was shining through Martin's hole--a natural gap in the rock of the Tschingelhorn," explains Andreas.

What are the odds? It happens about twice a year. The sun itself shines through the gap on March 12/13 and Oct. 1/2. Likewise, the full (or nearly-full) Moons of March and October are in the right position to peek through the hole, although they don't do it on the same fixed dates as the sun because of complications caused by the Moon's 27.3-day, 5o-tilted orbit.

Andreas happened to be in the right place at the right time. To see the improbable, keep looking up!

October Northern Lights Gallery
[previous Octobers: 2008, 2007, 2006, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001]

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 November 4, 2009 there were 1077 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Nov. 2009 Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
2009 UW87
Oct. 31
1.6 LD
11 m
2009 UK14
Nov. 1
9.1 LD
29 m
2006 JY26
Nov. 2
6.7 LD
10 m
2000 XK44
Nov. 4
28.8 LD
1.1 km
2000 UJ1
Nov. 7
43.3 LD
1.2 km
2000 TO64
Nov. 10
44.2 LD
1.9 km
2009 UK20
Nov. 12
6.5 LD
20 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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