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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Current conditions
Solar wind
speed: 473.7 km/sec
density: 1.5 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2346 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A0
2340 UT May06
24-hr: A0
2340 UT May06
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2340 UT
Daily Sun: 06 May 09
The sun is blank--no sunspots. Credit: SOHO/MDI
Sunspot number: 0
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 06 May 2009

NEW: Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 6 days
2009 total: 108 days (86%)
Since 2004: 619 days
Typical Solar Min: 485 days
explanation | more info
Updated 06 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= 2 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 2
explanation | more data
Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
What is the auroral oval?
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 4.3 nT
Bz: 0.4 nT south
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 May 7th. Credit: Hinode X-ray Telescope
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2009 May 06 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 06 2201 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
15 %
05 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
25 %
10 %
10 %
05 %
01 %
01 %
What's up in Space
May 6, 2009

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


AURORA WATCH: High-latitude sky watchers should be alert for auroras tonight. Earth is entering a solar wind stream, and the encounter could spark geomagnetic storms around the poles.

THE SUN IS STIRRING: NASA's STEREO-B spacecraft is monitoring an active region hidden behind the sun's eastern limb. On May 5th, it produced an impressive coronal mass ejection (CME, movie) and a burst of Type II radio emissions caused by a shock wave plowing through the sun's outer atmosphere. STEREO-B's extreme UV telescope captured this image during the explosion:

Activity has continued apace today, May 6th, with at least two more eruptions (stay tuned for movies). Furthermore, the most recent UV images from STEREO-B reveal not just one but two active regions: image.

At the root of all this activity is probably a complex of sunspots. The region is not yet visible from Earth, but the sun is turning it toward us for a better view. Readers with solar telescopes should keep an eye on sun's northeastern limb for an emergence on May 7th or 8th.

more images: from Alan Friedman of Buffalo, NY; from Pete Lawrence of Selsey, West Sussex, UK

MASSIVE BUG INVADES JUPITER: Astrophotographer Mike Salway of Central Coast, Australia, has witnessed a shocking event on our solar system's largest planet. "I was imaging Jupiter on the morning of May 2nd," he says. "You can imagine my surprise when a massive bug at least 3 times the size of the Earth invaded the giant planet! Watch the video to see attack unfold."

Click to play: avi (0.4 MB) or gif (4 MB)

"Things were looking grim for the Jovians as the creature traversed the gas giant, consuming white spots and feeding on power generated by Jupiter's criss-crossing jet streams," says Salway. "Did the bug wipe out Jupiter, or did the Jovians repel the 6-legged invader?" A follow-up photo taken an hour later revealed Jupiter still intact. "It turns out the invader was just an insect on the mirror of my 12-inch Newtonian telescope."

Update: Tenho Tuomi of Lucky Lake, SK, suggests that "the bug was more likely walking across the CCD. [Judging from the sharp outlines], it has to have been close to a focal point." If the bug was indeed inside the CCD camera, "that would make it a shutter bug," says Bob Burnett of Richland, Washington.

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 6, 2009 there were 1054 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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