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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Current conditions
Solar wind
speed: 420.5 km/sec
density: 5.5 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2344 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A0
2340 UT Oct15
24-hr: A0
2340 UT Oct15
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2340 UT
Daily Sun: 15 Oct. 09
The sun is blank--no sunspots. Photo credit: SOHO/MDI
Sunspot number: 0
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 14 Oct 2009

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 13 days
2009 total: 225 days (79%)
Since 2004: 736 days
Typical Solar Min: 485 days
explanation | more info
Updated 14 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= 2 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 2
explanation | more data
Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 3.4 nT
Bz: 2.9 nT south
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2346 UT
Coronal Holes:
There are no large coronal holes on the Earth-facing side of the sun. Credit: SOHO Extreme UV Telescope
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2009 Oct 15 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 15 2201 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
10 %
05 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
15 %
10 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
What's up in Space
October 15, 2009

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


MORNING PLANETS: Set your alarm for dawn. On Friday morning, Oct. 16th, the crescent Moon, Venus, Saturn and Mercury will gather in the east for a sunrise sky show. For best results, use binoculars to see all four worlds framed by morning twilight-blue. [sky map]

LUNAR IMPACT: NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter has pinpointed the wreckage of a spacecraft that crashed into the Moon. No, it wasn't LCROSS, which hit the floor of crater Cabeus last week. This crash site is much older:

Thirty-eight and a half years old, to be exact. The crater was formed on February 4, 1971, by the impact of Apollo 14's Saturn IVB booster rocket. NASA intentionally guided the rocket into the lunar surface to provide a signal for seismometers deployed by Apollo astronauts. The experiment yielded new information about the Moon's interior structure.

Over the years, NASA and other international space agencies have peppered the Moon with dozens of spacecraft--usually on purpose, although not always--and by doing so gained considerable experience with the results of lunar impacts. Researchers tapped into that experience when they predicted bright flashes and debris plumes for the crash of LCROSS. Imagine their surprise when the flashes and plumes failed to materialize! To the human eye, LCROSS and its Centaur booster rocket simply disappeared into the inky depths of Cabeus with no obvious evidence of impact.

The solution to this mystery probably lies in data beamed back to Earth by LCROSS in the last minutes before impact. Scientists are crunching the numbers, and it may be days or weeks before results are known. Stay tuned.

NETHERLANDS FIREBALL: A fireball as bright as the full Moon startled observers in the Netherlands on Oct. 13th when it raced across the evening twilight sky. A lucky shot by photographer Jan de Vries at approximately 1658 UT caught the meteor in mid-flight:

"It was spectacular," says eyewitness Dominic Doyle of the European Space Agency in Noordwijk. "I estimate its magnitude to be about -12," adds amateur astronomer Koen Miskotte, who saw it from the small village of Ermelo. Various observers report it breaking apart into as many as a half-dozen pieces, followed by sonic booms, low rumbles and shaking windows. A Royal Dutch Meteorology Institute listening post detected strong infrasound (low-frequency sound) waves, apparently confirming a high-altitude breakup event: data.

more images: from Robert Mikaelyan of Groningen, The Netherlands

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 15, 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...
©2008, -- This site is penned daily by Dr. Tony Phillips.
















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