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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Current conditions
Solar wind
speed: 361.2 km/sec
density: 0.2 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2344 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A0
2340 UT Oct16
24-hr: A0
2340 UT Oct16
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2340 UT
Daily Sun: 16 Oct. 09
The sun is blank--no sunspots. Photo credit: SOHO/MDI
Sunspot number: 0
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 15 Oct 2009

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 14 days
2009 total: 226 days (79%)
Since 2004: 737 days
Typical Solar Min: 485 days
explanation | more info
Updated 15 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= 2
explanation | more data
Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 2.8 nT
Bz: 0.8 nT north
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2345 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 16 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 16 2201 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
05 %
05 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
10 %
05 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
What's up in Space
October 16, 2009

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


GIANT RIBBON DISCOVERED AT THE EDGE OF THE SOLAR SYSTEM: For years, researchers have known that the solar system is surrounded by a vast bubble of magnetism. Called the "heliosphere," it springs from the sun and extends far beyond the orbit of Pluto, providing a first line of defense against cosmic rays and interstellar clouds that try to enter our local space. Although the heliosphere is huge and literally fills the sky, it emits no light and no one has actually seen it. Until now.

NASA's IBEX (Interstellar Boundary Explorer) spacecraft has made the first all-sky map of the heliosphere and the results have taken researchers by surprise. The map is bisected by a bright, winding ribbon of unknown origin:

"This is a shocking new result," says IBEX principal investigator Dave McComas of the Southwest Research Institute. "We had no idea this ribbon existed--or what has created it. Our previous ideas about the outer heliosphere are going to have to be revised."

The two Voyager spacecraft (labeled V1 and V2 in the figure) have spent decades traveling to the edge of the solar system for in situ inspection of whatever might be there--but ironically both spacecraft missed the ribbon. "It's like having two weather stations, but missing the big storm that runs between them," says Eric Christian, IBEX deputy mission scientist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center.

At the moment, theorists are "working like crazy" to understand this discovery and how the ribbon might affect the ability of the heliosphere to shield us from cosmic rays. Science@NASA has the full story.

CELESTIAL TRIANGLE: This morning in Kerman, Iran, Mohammad Javad Fahimi stood beside the historic Jabaliyeh Dome and watched a lovely triangle rise in the eastern sky:

"It was Venus, Saturn and the crescent Moon having a get-together," says Fahimi. Seeing the planets arrayed thus beside the 900-year old mausoleum was "a wonderful way to begin the day."

Observers in other time zones would have seen the same trio--almost. The Moon is moving toward Venus, so the shape of the triangle has been shifting from time zone to time zone, each apparition a little different than the one before. Click on the links below for variations.

more images: from Miguel Claro of Cacilhas, Almada, Portugal; from Azhy Chato Hasan of Erbil city, Kurdistan Region, Iraq; from Jens Hackmann of Weikersheim, Germany; from Zlatko Pasko of Stara Pazova, Serbia; from Antonio Finazzi of Chiuduno, Bergamo - Italy; from Jim Werle of Las Vegas, Nevada; from Paul Hughes of St Austell, Cornwall, UK; from Alan C Tough of Lossiemouth, Moray, Scotland; from Stefano De Rosa of Monate Lake, Italy;

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 16, 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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