You are viewing the page for May. 11, 2015
  Select another date:
<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids Internet Shopping Sites high quality binoculars excellent weather stations all-metal reflector telescopes rotatable microscopes
Solar wind
speed: 345.0 km/sec
density: 10.5 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2350 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: C2
1842 UT May11
24-hr: C2
0411 UT May11
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2300 UT
Daily Sun: 11 May 15
Sunspot AR2339 has a 'beta-gamma' magnetic field that harbors energy for M-class solar flares. Credit: SDO/HMI

Sunspot number: 134
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 11 May 2015

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 0 days
2015 total: 0 days (0%)

2014 total: 1 day (<1%)
2013 total: 0 days (0%)
2012 total: 0 days (0%)
2011 total: 2 days (<1%)
2010 total: 51 days (14%)
2009 total: 260 days (71%)

Updated 11 May 2015

The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 160 sfu
explanation | more data
Updated 11 May 2015

Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
Credit: NOAA/Ovation
Planetary K-index
Now: Kp= 2 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 4
explanation | more data
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 7.6 nT
Bz: 5.9 nT south
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2350 UT
Coronal Holes: 11 May 15

A stream of solar wind flowing from the indicated coronal hole should reach Earth on May 12-14. Credit: SDO/AIA.
Noctilucent Clouds The northern season for NLCs is about to begin. Readers should monitor the "daily daisies" below for first sightings from NASA's AIM spacecraft.
Switch view: Europe, USA, Asia, Polar
Updated at: 05-11-2015 02:55:02
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2015 May 10 2200 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
30 %
30 %
05 %
05 %
Geomagnetic Storms:
Probabilities for significant disturbances in Earth's magnetic field are given for three activity levels: active, minor storm, severe storm
Updated at: 2015 May 10 2200 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
35 %
40 %
15 %
25 %
01 %
05 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
10 %
10 %
30 %
25 %
45 %
60 %
Monday, May. 11, 2015
What's up in space

Learn to photograph Northern Lights like a pro. Sign up for Peter Rosen's Aurora Photo Courses in Abisko National Park.

Lapland tours

QUIET WITH A CHANCE OF FLARES: For the past 48 hours, solar activity has been very low. Sunspot AR2339 is poised to break the quiet. The behemoth sunspot is directly facing Earth, and it has an unstable 'beta-gamma' magnetic field that harbors energy for strong eruptions. NOAA forecasters estimate a 30% chance of M-class solar flares and a 5% chance of X-flares on May 11th. Solar flare alerts: text, voice

AURORAS SIGHTED, MORE TO COME: Mother's Day in Canada began with a sunrise display of Northern Lights. On Sunday, May 10th, Harlan Thomas photographed a green band above the rosy twilight east of Calgary:

Shortly before Thomas took the picture, the interplanetary magnetic field (IMF) near Earth tipped south. This opened a crack in our planet's magnetosphere. Solar wind poured in to fuel the display.

More auroras are in the offing. NOAA forecasters estimate a 45% chance of polar geomagnetic storms on May 11th when a co-rotating interaction region (CIR) is expected to hit Earth's magnetic field. CIRs are transition zones between fast- and slow-moving solar wind streams. Solar wind plasma piles up in these regions, producing density gradients and shock waves that do a good job of sparking auroras. Aurora alerts: text, voice

Realtime Space Weather Photo Gallery

MICROBES RETURN TO THE STRATOSPHERE: You can't keep a good extremophile down. On May 6th, six tiny vials of halobacteria returned to the stratosphere onboard an Earth to Sky Calculus suborbital helium balloon. Following a disastrous crash just one week earlier, the microbes reached an altitude of 110,962 feet:

This is part of an ongoing experiment to see if halobacteria can survive multiple trips to the edge of space. Astrobiologists are interested because conditions in Earth's stratosphere (temperature, pressure and cosmic radiation) are remarkably similar to the surface of Mars. If halobacteria can survive more than 100,000 feet above Earth, they might be able to survive on the Red Planet, too.

After a 2.5 hour flight, the microbes parachuted back to Earth, soft-landing not far from the Eureka Dunes in California's Death Valley National Park. A team of students from Earth to Sky Calculus recovered the microbes on the same day.

Now the analysis begins. After the recovery, two of the vials were immediately flown across the USA to the University of Maryland, where microbiologists Priya and Shil DasSarma are culturing the microbes. In their state-of-the-art lab, which is supported by NASA, the DasSarmas will analyze the samples for mutations and other changes resulting from the trip to the edge of space. At the same time, the students of Earth to Sky Calculus will conduct a parallel investigation in California using samples they kept for themselves. This collaboration between, Earth to Sky Calculus, and the DasSarmas could lead to some interesting astrobiological discoveries.

THIS RESEARCH IS CROWD-FUNDED: How do we pay for these flights? Actually, you pay for them. Readers of, mainly private individuals and small businesses, sponsor each and every research flight to the stratosphere. Our latest astrobiology launch was made possible by S2 Maui, a windsurf sail design company. Here is their logo sailing the thin air at 100,000 feet:

The logo is made of a new lightweight windsurf fabric called "SpaceLight," developed by S2 Maui's designer, Artur Szpunar, together with US-based sail cloth manufacturer, Dimension Polyant. Visiting the stratosphere was not only an opportunity to show S2 Maui's logo at the edge of space, but also a chance to expose the fabric to high doses of UV radiation at the top of Earth's atmosphere. "This was a valuable test of our new material in an appropriate environment," says Szpunar.

Become a sponsor: Readers, if you would like to sponsor a flight and see your logo at the edge of space, the cost is only $500. All proceeds go to cutting-edge student research. Contact Dr. Tony Phillips for details.

Realtime Aurora Photo Gallery

Realtime Comet Photo Gallery

  All Sky Fireball Network

Every night, a network of NASA all-sky cameras scans the skies above the United States for meteoritic fireballs. Automated software maintained by NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office calculates their orbits, velocity, penetration depth in Earth's atmosphere and many other characteristics. Daily results are presented here on

On May. 11, 2015, the network reported 13 fireballs.
(9 sporadics, 3 eta Aquariids, 1 eta Lyrid)

In this diagram of the inner solar system, all of the fireball orbits intersect at a single point--Earth. The orbits are color-coded by velocity, from slow (red) to fast (blue). [Larger image] [movies]

  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 11, 2015 there were potentially hazardous asteroids.
Recent & Upcoming Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
2015 JD
May 10
3.6 LD
36 m
2015 JR
May 13
4 LD
26 m
2015 HB177
May 14
12.4 LD
52 m
5381 Sekhmet
May 17
62.8 LD
2.1 km
2015 JF
May 18
9 LD
24 m
2015 HT9
May 25
12.2 LD
24 m
2005 XL80
Jun 4
38.1 LD
1.0 km
2012 XB112
Jun 11
10.1 LD
2 m
2005 VN5
Jul 7
12.6 LD
18 m
2015 HM10
Jul 7
1.1 LD
68 m
1994 AW1
Jul 15
25.3 LD
1.4 km
2011 UW158
Jul 19
6.4 LD
565 m
2013 BQ18
Jul 20
7.9 LD
38 m
1999 JD6
Jul 25
18.8 LD
1.6 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
Space Weather Alerts
  more links...
©2015 All rights reserved. This site is penned daily by Dr. Tony Phillips.
©2019 All rights reserved.