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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Solar wind
speed: 509.6 km/sec
density: 0.5 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2344 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A7
2227 UT Feb06
24-hr: A7
2227 UT Feb06
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2300 UT
Daily Sun: 06 Feb 11
Sunspots 1152 and 1153 are small and pose no threat for strong flares. Credit: SDO/HMI
Sunspot number: 26
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 04 Feb 2011

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 0 days
2011 total: 1 day (3%)
2010 total: 51 days (14%)
2009 total: 260 days (71%)
Since 2004: 820 days
Typical Solar Min: 486 days

Updated 04 Feb 2011

The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 81 sfu
explanation | more data
Updated 04 Feb 2011

Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
Planetary K-index
Now: Kp= 2 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 3
explanation | more data
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 2.9 nT
Bz: 0.3 nT north
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2345 UT
Coronal Holes: 06 Feb 11
Earth is inside a solar wind stream flowing from the indicated coronal hole. Credit: SDO/AIA.
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2011 Feb 06 2200 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: 2011 Feb 06 2200 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
20 %
05 %
05 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
25 %
10 %
10 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
Sunday, Feb. 6, 2011
What's up in space

Metallic photos of the sun by renowned photographer Greg Piepol bring together the best of art and science. Buy one or a whole set. They make a stellar gift.

Metallic pictures of the Sun

SUNSET SKY SHOW: When the sun goes down tonight, step outside and look west. Jupiter is in conjunction with the crescent Moon. Try to catch them before the sky fades to black. A bright conjunction framed by twilight-blue is a super sight! [sky map]

NASA SEES THE ENTIRE SUN: On Super Sun-day, for the first time ever, NASA's STEREO spacecraft moved into position to photograph the entire sun--front and back. Researchers say this is a transforming moment in solar physics that could lead to big advances in space weather forecasting. Get the full story from Science@NASA.

PULSATING AURORAS: During the geomagnetic storm of Feb. 4th, Fredrik Broms of Kvaløya, Norway, witnessed an episode of elusive pulsating auroras. "The sky was filled with patches of green that oscillated in brightness," he explains. A snapshot with his Nikon D3 caught the phenomenon in mid-pulse:

Photo details: Nikon D3, AF-S Nikkor 14-24 mm f/2,8, 10 sec, ISO 1000

"The patches didn't move much, but their intensity changed. When one patch got brighter another became more diffuse and so on," Broms describes.

Reports of pulsating auroras go back more than a century, but until recently no one knew what made the aurora borealis behave like a strobe light. Researchers from UCLA solved the puzzle in 2009-10. Using data from NASA's THEMIS spacecraft, they discovered that auroras pulse in sync to 'chorus waves' in Earth's magnetosphere. This is a type of plasma wave that seems to be able to modulate the flow of solar wind particles down to Earth during geomagnetic storms. Clearly, the chorus was singing on Feb. 4th.

February 2011 Aurora Photo Gallery
[previous Februaries: 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2004, 2003, 2002]

GROUND HALO: On Jan. 23rd, Gote Flodqvist was skiing across a lake near Stockholm, Sweden, when he noticed something following him. "There was a halo, very colorful, shining up from the surface of the lake," he says. "It went everywhere I did!" That made it remarkably easy to photograph:

Halos like this usually appear in the sky. Atmospheric optics expert Les Cowley explains the difference: "This is a ground halo, the sky’s familiar 22 degree halo in an unfamiliar guise. It is made by sunlight shining on hexagonal prism ice crystals tumbled randomly onto the lake's frozen surface. To the eye it is circular like its sky counterpart but the path across the lake of the crystals making it is quite different – it is a hyperbola like the paths of some comets."

Readers who find themselves on on icy lakes or snowy fields should be alert for this phenomenon--and submit the pictures here.

  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 February 6, 2011 there were 1193 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Recent & Upcoming Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
2011 BE24
Feb 3
9.3 LD
35 m
2011 CQ1
Feb 4
0.03 LD
2 m
2011 CZ3
Feb 9
2.4 LD
21 m
2003 YG118
Feb 20
67.7 LD
1.8 km
2000 PN9
Mar 10
45.5 LD
2.6 km
2002 DB4
Apr 15
62.5 LD
2.2 km
2008 UC202
Apr 27
8.9 LD
10 m
2009 UK20
May 2
8.6 LD
23 m
2008 FU6
May 5
75.5 LD
1.2 km
2003 YT1
May 5
65.3 LD
2.5 km
2002 JC
Jun 1
57.5 LD
1.6 km
2009 BD
Jun 2
0.9 LD
9 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 web 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 Dynamics Observatory
  Researchers call it a "Hubble for the sun." SDO is the most advanced solar observatory ever.
  3D views of the sun from NASA's Solar and Terrestrial Relations Observatory
Solar and Heliospheric Observatory
  Realtime and archival images of the Sun from SOHO.
Daily Sunspot Summaries
  from the NOAA Space Environment Center
  the underlying science of space weather
Science Central
  more links...
©2010 All rights reserved. This site is penned daily by Dr. Tony Phillips.
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