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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Current conditions
Solar wind
speed: 379.5 km/sec
density: 3.5 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2343 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A0
2340 UT Oct12
24-hr: A1
1125 UT Oct12
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2340 UT
Daily Sun: 12 Oct. 09
The sun is blank--no sunspots. Photo credit: SOHO/MDI
Sunspot number: 0
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 11 Oct 2009

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 10 days
2009 total: 222 days (78%)
Since 2004: 733 days
Typical Solar Min: 485 days
explanation | more info
Updated 11 Oct 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= 1
explanation | more data
Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 4.0 nT
Bz: 0.4 nT south
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2346 UT
Coronal Holes:
A solar wind stream flowing from the indicated coronal hole should reach Earth on or about Oct. 15th. Credit: SOHO Extreme UV Telescope
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2009 Oct 12 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 Oct 12 2201 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
05 %
05 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
10 %
10 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
What's up in Space
October 12, 2009

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


SOLAR ACTIVITY: NASA's STEREO spacecraft and the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) are monitoring an active region about to emerge over the sun's southeastern limb: image. Readers with solar telescopes are encouraged to keep an eye on the region for signs of a possible sunspot.

MYSTERY OF THE MISSING PLUMES: NASA scientists are grappling with a mystery. Where did the debris go? Last Friday morning, Oct. 9th, the water-seeking LCROSS spacecraft and its Centaur booster rocket crashed into the floor of crater Cabeus near the Moon's south pole, on time and on target. But the debris plumes that were supposed to issue from the impacts failed to materialize. Consider this image recorded 15 seconds after the Centaur impact by the Palomar Observatory's 200-inch Hale telescope:

Click to view a 12-minute mpg movie.

Cabeus crater is located in the center, behind the large bright mountain. Plumes of shattered spacecraft and lunar soil should have emerged into sunlight from the shadows, but even Palomar's sensitive adaptive optics system registered nothing.

The absence of debris plumes does not mean LCROSS was a failure. On the contrary, by offering up the unexpected, LCROSS is teaching us something new about the lunar surface and the products of lunar impacts. That makes it, by definition, a successful experiment. All that remains is to figure out what the new information is. Researchers will be announcing their findings in the days and weeks ahead. Stay tuned.

FIREBALL UPDATE: Regarding the "Ontario fireball" described below, the meteor's terminal explosion was recorded by a Doppler radar in Buffalo, NY. Veteran meteorite-hunter Rob Matson located the data in NOAA archives and offers two streetmaps of possible fall-zones. "Based on the size of the radar returns (compared with past recovered falls that also appeared on Doppler radar), I think it quite likely that several kilos of meteorites could ultimately be recovered," he says.

ONTARIO FIREBALL: On Friday night Sept. 25th, at approximately 9:03 pm EDT, an asteroid the size of a child's tricycle hit Earth just above Lake Ontario. It was a lucky strike, right in the middle of a network of seven all-sky cameras operated by the University of Western Ontario (UWO). The disintegrating asteroid produced a blinding fireball 100 times brighter than a full Moon. Click on the image to view a movie from the Hamilton, Ontario, station:

The asteroid exploded in flight, producing strong low-frequency sound waves in the atmosphere. Analysis of infrasound records along with video from the seven camera stations lead researchers to believe that fragments of the asteroid could have reached the ground. "This bright fireball was large enough to have dropped meteorites in a region south of Grimsby on the Niagara Peninsula, providing masses that may total as much as several kilograms," according to a UWO press release.

Researchers at Western Ontario are interested in hearing from anyone within 10 km of Grimsby who may have witnessed or recorded the fireball, seen or heard unusual events at the time, or who may have found possible fragments of the freshly fallen meteorite. Meteorite-hunting tips and more video may be found here.

Sept. 2009 Aurora Gallery
[previous Septembers: 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004, 2002, 2001]

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 October 12, 2009 there were 1074 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Oct. 2009 Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
2001 CV26
Oct. 8
9.8 LD
2.2 km
2009 TJ
Oct. 13
10.8 LD
130 m
1999 AP10
Oct. 20
29.7 LD
2.7 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 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...
















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