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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Current conditions
Solar wind
speed: 465.2 km/sec
density: 1.3 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2211 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A0
2340 UT May07
24-hr: A0
2340 UT May07
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2340 UT
Daily Sun: 06 May 09
The sun is blank--no sunspots. Credit: SOHO/MDI

NOTE: SOHO is passing through a telemetry keyhole and this is delaying transmission of Daily Sun images. Updates will be posted as soon as they are available.
Sunspot number: 0
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 06 May 2009

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 7 days
2009 total: 109 days (86%)
Since 2004: 620 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= 1 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 4
explanation | more data
Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
What is the auroral oval?
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 5.7 nT
Bz: 3.1 nT south
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2213 UT
Coronal Holes:
Earth is entering a solar wind stream flowing from the indicated coronal hole. Credit: Hinode X-ray Telescope
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2009 May 07 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 07 2201 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
05 %
05 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
10 %
10 %
05 %
05 %
01 %
01 %
What's up in Space
May 7, 2009

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


A SUNSPOT IN THE OFFING? Astronomers are watching the edge of the sun, waiting for the emergence of an active region that produced a bright CME on May 5th: movie. At the time of the explosion, the blast site was hidden behind the sun's eastern limb, but now solar rotation is turning the region toward Earth for a better view. Will a sunspot appear to break the monotony of the blank sun? Stay tuned.

ISS COMPANION: This morning, May 7th, the International Space Station flew directly over the Netherlands. Astronomer Ralf Vandebergh was watching and noticed, about 90 seconds later, another spacecraft following the ISS. He photographed the pair using his backyard 10-inch telescope:

"The second spacecraft was the Progress 32 rocket, which undocked from the ISS yesterday," he says. The Russian rocket delivered a load of supplies to the ISS in February and now it is taking away a load of trash. The Progress and its contents are scheduled to re-enter Earth's atmosphere and disintegrate over the Pacific Ocean on May 18th. Meanwhile, the rocket can be seen tagging along behind the ISS; check the Simple Satellite Tracker for flyby times.

NAME THAT PLANET: Glance at the photo. The technicolor streak is one of the planets in our Solar System. Can you guess which one? Scroll down for the answer.

It's Mercury. Photographer Darren Baskill of East Sussex, UK, explains: "Mercury was low on the horizon and its light had to travel through a large amount of air." Refraction by thermal irregularities in the atmosphere caused Mercury to scintillate (twinkle) with all the colors of the rainbow. "So, at one moment Mercury appeared red, at others green, and at other moments, blue. I took a half-second-long photograph of Mercury, moving the camera around during that half-second, so that the changing colours of Mercury could be caught on camera. This image is a combination of three such exposures simply overlayed on top of each other."

This phenomenon is even easier to see in the Dog Star, Sirius, which is more luminous than Mercury and also near the horizon after sunset. Point your optics southwest as the twilight fades to black: sky map.

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 7, 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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