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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Current conditions
Solar wind
speed: 330.8 km/sec
density: 3.8 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2314 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A1
1910 UT Jun05
24-hr: A2
1320 UT Jun05
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2340 UT
Daily Sun: 05 June 09
New-cycle sunspot 1019 is breaking apart and beginning to fade away. Credit: SOHO/MDI

more images: from S. Pelletier, J. Maciaszek, J. Stetson of South Portland, Maine; from Harald Paleske of Langendorf, Germany; from Pete Lawrence of Selsey, West Sussex, UK
Sunspot number: 17
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 04 Jun 2009

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 0 days
2009 total: 123 days (80%)
Since 2004: 634 days
Typical Solar Min: 485 days
explanation | more info
Updated 04 Jun 2009

Far side of the Sun:
This holographic image reveals no large 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: 4.2 nT
Bz: 4.1 nT north
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2313 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 Jun 05 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 Jun 05 2201 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
10 %
10 %
05 %
05 %
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
10 %
10 %
05 %
05 %
01 %
01 %
What's up in Space
June 5, 2009

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


FAKE ASTRONAUT HIT BY ARTIFICIAL SOLAR FLARE: Researchers are blasting a fake astronaut complete with blood cells and simulated human tissue to an artificial solar flare. How the unlucky volunteer emerges from the radiation storm will reveal for the first time how much of a threat severe solar flares pose to astronauts en route to the Moon and Mars: full story.

VOLCANIC LIGHTNING: On May 19th, adventure photographer Stephen O'Meara was monitoring an eruption of the Rabaul volcano in Papua, New Guinea, when something happened that, he says, "I'll remember for a very long time. A storm cloud approached the volcano's 2 km plume, and lightning began to arc between the two." He set up his camera in a secure location and recorded the "awesome and blinding" spectacle:

This isn't the first time lightning has been observed around a volcano. Recent examples include Alaska's Mt. Redoubt, Chile's Chaitin volcano and Kilauea in Hawaii. Clouds of water vapor shoot out of these volcanoes in a dusty mixture likened to a "dirty thunderstorm," and lightning emerges from within the turbulent plume. Photos: #1, #2.

But O'Meara's photo shows something different. "I observed a placid eruption column apparently interacting with a passing storm center," he says. "It was cloud to cloud lightning." Not much is known about the mechanisms driving volcanic lighting, so his image of this rare interaction may have scientific value.

UPDATE: On June 3rd, O'Meara took his camera to the Kilauea volcano in Hawaii and saw another bright flash of light in the sky--but this time it wasn't lightning. Click here for details.

DAYLIGHT STATION SIGHTING: How bright is the International Space Station? It's so bright, you can now see it in broad daylight. Yesterday, June 4th, Yaron Koler photographed the station framed in blue as it zipped past the Moon in the afternoon skies of Modiin, Israel:

"I used a Canon 500D with a 1.4x Kenko Telephoto Converter Lens," says Koler.

The ISS has been under construction almost continuously for the past 11 years: assembly sequence. The behemoth spacecraft now reflects so much sunlight, it rivals the surface brightness of the Moon in the daytime sky. Sunlight glinting from the station's solar arrays can cause flares as bright as magnitude -8, more than 25 times brighter than Venus!

Now imagine how it looks when the sky is actually dark. Check the Simple Satellite Tracker for nightime flybys of your home town.

2009 Noctilucent Photo Gallery
[previous years: 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004, 2003]

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 June 5, 2009 there were 1062 potentially hazardous asteroids.
June 2009 Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
2009 KR21
June 1
0.7 LD
21 m
2009 KL8
June 1
5.1 LD
63 m
2003 QO104
June 9
36.8 LD
2.9 km
1994 CC
June 10
6.6 LD
1.2 km
2001 FE90
June 28
7.0 LD
435 m
2002 KL6
June 28
57.5 LD
1.4 km
2006 MV1
June 30
9.6 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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