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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Solar wind
speed: 334.0 km/sec
density: 0.4 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2343 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: C1
1914 UT Oct10
24-hr: C4
1435 UT Oct10
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2300 UT
Daily Sun: 10 Oct 11
Sunspot 1313 is growing rapidly and crackling with C-class solar flares. flares. Credit: SDO/HMI
Sunspot number: 71
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 09 Oct 2011

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 0 days
2011 total: 2 days (<1%)
2010 total: 51 days (14%)
2009 total: 260 days (71%)
Since 2004: 821 days
Typical Solar Min: 486 days

Updated 09 Oct 2011

The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 121 sfu
explanation | more data
Updated 09 Oct 2011

Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
Planetary K-index
Now: Kp= 1 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 1
explanation | more data
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 4.7 nT
Bz: 3.3 nT north
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2345 UT
Coronal Holes: 10 Oct 11
Earth is entering a minor solar wind stream flowing from the indicated coronal hole. Credit: SDO/AIA.
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2011 Oct 10 2200 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
15 %
15 %
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 Oct 10 2200 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
20 %
05 %
05 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
30 %
10 %
05 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
Monday, Oct. 10, 2011
What's up in space

Turn your cell phone into a field-tested satellite tracker. Works for Android and iPhone.

Satellite flybys

DRACONID METEOR BALLOON: During the peak of the Draconid meteor shower on Oct. 8th, a group of students in Bishop, California, flew a helium balloon to the stratosphere to try to record some Draconid fireballs in the darkness at high-altitude. Five cameras recorded more than 50 GB of data, which the team is sifting through now for evidence of meteors. While we're waiting for the meteor count, the team offers this video of the balloon popping about 100,000 feet above Earth:

Video: realtime, slow motion. Credit: Earth to Sky, copyright 2011, all rights reserved

Note the ghostly halo around the center of the exploding balloon. That's probably the fine talcum-like powder added by the manufacturer to keep the balloon from sticking to itself. Here is the explosion again in slow motion. Be sure to turn up the volume to hear the sound of the balloon popping. The delay proves that light is faster than sound even in the stratosphere.

The balloon pops by design when it reaches the apex of the flight. Immediately, the payload plummets Earthward, falling several hundred mph through the vanishingly thin air of the stratosphere. To arrest the fall, a parachute opens and delivers the payload gently to Earth about 25 minutes later. The Draconid payload landed in the rugged but beautiful Inyo mountains of central California where it was recovered by the team on Oct. 9th.

more images: Owens River, Snowy Sierras, Pop 1, Pop 2

DRACONID BOREALIS: The Draconid outburst of Oct. 8th sent more than 400 meteors per hour shooting out of the high-northern constellation Draco. With visibility favoring the countries of the Arctic, it is no surprise that many photographers caught Draconids cutting through the Northern Lights. Antony Spencer sends this example from Kiruna, Sweden:

"I was leading a workshop to teach students how to photograph the aurora borealis," says Spencer. "We had a blast photographing incredible auroras from dusk to dawn, with plenty of Draconid meteors thrown in as well. What a spectacle! It was a night I will always remember. I was dancing around when I saw I had captured the meteor near the center of the corona (shown above)."

more images: from Hans Schremmer of Porjus/Schweden; from Ed Stockard of Summit Station, Greenland; from Ulf Jonsson of Gussö, Sweden; from Gary Newman of Kiruna, Sweden; from Paul Mohan of Northville, Michigan; from Miguel Claro of Setúbal, Portugal; from Ricardo ML Alves da Silva of Guincho beach, Portugal; from Jesper Grønne of Silkeborg Denmark; from John Chumack of Dayton, Ohio; from Antonio Finazzi of Bettola (PC) - Italy; from Frank Olsen of Tromsø, Norway

September 2011 Aurora Gallery
[previous Septembers: 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004]

  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 October 10, 2011 there were 1250 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Recent & Upcoming Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
2002 AG29
Oct 9
77.1 LD
1.0 km
2011 TB4
Oct 10
5.2 LD
35 m
2011 SE97
Oct 12
7.9 LD
50 m
2011 SS25
Oct 12
69.3 LD
1.0 km
2000 OJ8
Oct 13
49.8 LD
2.3 km
2009 TM8
Oct 17
0.9 LD
8 m
2011 FZ2
Nov 7
75.9 LD
1.6 km
2005 YU55
Nov 8
0.8 LD
175 m
1994 CK1
Nov 16
68.8 LD
1.5 km
1996 FG3
Nov 23
39.5 LD
1.1 km
2003 WM7
Dec 9
47.6 LD
1.5 km
1999 XP35
Dec 20
77.5 LD
1.0 km
2000 YA
Dec 26
2.9 LD
80 m
2011 SL102
Dec 28
76.4 LD
1.1 km
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
Conquest Graphics
  for out-of-this-world printing and graphics
Trade Show Displays
  more links...
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