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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Solar wind
speed: 456.1 km/sec
density: 1.8 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2347 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: B2
2155 UT Sep17
24-hr: B9
0120 UT Sep17
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2340 UT
Daily Sun: 17 Sept 10
Sunspot 1108 is crackling with B- and C-class solar flares. Credit: SDO/HMI. Resolutions: 4096, 1024, 512
Sunspot number: 46
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 16 Sep 2010

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 0 days
2010 total: 41 days (16%)
2009 total: 260 days (71%)
Since 2004: 809 days
Typical Solar Min: 486 days
explanation | more info
Updated 16 Sep 2010

The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 83 sfu
explanation | more data
Updated 16 Sep 2010

Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
Planetary K-index
Now: Kp= 2 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 3
explanation | more data
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 3.6 nT
Bz: 0.8 nT south
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2347 UT
Coronal Holes: 16 Sept 10
A solar wind stream flowing from the indicated coronal hole should reach Earth on Sept. 20th or 21st. Credit: SDO/AIA
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2010 Sep 17 2201 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
25 %
25 %
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: 2010 Sep 17 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 %
Friday, Sep. 17, 2010
What's up in space

iPHONE VS ANDROID! Actually, it doesn't matter which phone you carry. Our cool, new app turns both smartphones into field-tested satellite trackers. Learn more.


WILD AURORAS: A solar wind stream is buffeting Earth's magnetic field and lighting up the Arctic Circle. "The auroras were wild last night," reports Thomas Hagen of Tromsø, Norway. "They danced for hours; it was fantastic!" High latitude sky watchers, if it's dark where you live, be alert for wild auroras.

JUPITER AND URANUS: Jupiter is at opposition on Sept. 21st, meaning the giant planet will be directly opposite the sun, soaring overhead at midnight with dazzling brilliance. In a coincidence of interplanetary proportions, Uranus is at opposition on the very same night! Fredrik Broms of Kvaløya, Norway caught the two converging during a geomagnetic storm on Sept. 15th:

"It's amazing to be able to observe two giant planets next to each other--and never have I seen such a pair against a completely green background!" says Broms.

While Jupiter is outshining everything in the midnight sky (except the Moon), Uranus is barely visible to the naked eye. It's a difference of scale: Uranus is almost three times smaller than Jupiter and five times farther away. Nevertheless, Uranus is still a pretty sight. A telescope pointed at Jupiter on Sept. 21st will reveal the aqua-colored disk of Uranus less than a degree away. And if the sky turns green at the same time, well, that's just a bonus.

more images: from Jean-Paul Godard at Pic du Midi Observatory, France; from Tamas Ladanyi in the Bakony mountains of Hungary; from Peter Rosén of Stockholm, Sweden

RAINBOWS AT NIGHT: The recipe for a rainbow is well known. Add a few thousand raindrops to a bright shaft of sunlight and presto--a colorful arc appears. You might be surprised to learn, however, that sunlight is not required to make a rainbow. Moonlight does just as well:

"Last night I conducted a successful hunt for the elusive Lunar Rainbow," says photographer Martin McKenna of Maghera, Northern Ireland. "I noticed showers moving in from the west, so I drove out to a field and waited. The Moon rose behind me, then in an instant a complete primary and secondary bow formed. I could see them easily with the naked eye complete with colors."

"It was a wonderful experience." The only drawback: "My camera is completely drenched!"

Readers, the Moon is waxing bright. If you hear the pitter-patter of raindrops on your roof, look out the window. You, too, might spy a rainbow at night.

Sept. 2010 Northern Lights Gallery
[previous Septembers: 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004, 2002, 2001, 2000]

  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 September 17, 2010 there were 1144 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Recent & Upcoming Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
2010 RF12
Sep 8
0.2 LD
9 m
2010 RJ53
Sep 9
8 LD
69 m
2010 RS80
Sep 9
2.2 LD
23 m
2010 RM82
Sep 10
2.2 LD
31 m
2009 SH2
Sep 30
7.1 LD
45 m
1998 UO1
Oct 1
32.1 LD
2.1 km
2005 GE59
Oct 1
77 LD
1.1 km
2001 WN5
Oct 10
41.8 LD
1.0 km
1999 VO6
Oct 14
34.3 LD
1.8 km
1998 TU3
Oct 17
69.1 LD
5.3 km
1998 MQ
Oct 23
77.7 LD
1.9 km
2007 RU17
Oct 29
40.6 LD
1.0 km
2003 UV11
Oct 30
5 LD
595 m
3838 Epona
Nov 7
76.8 LD
3.4 km
2005 QY151
Nov 16
77.7 LD
1.3 km
2008 KT
Nov 23
5.6 LD
10 m
2002 EZ16
Nov 30
73.9 LD
1.0 km
2000 JH5
Dec 7
47 LD
1.5 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
Current Solar Images
  from the National Solar Data Analysis Center
Science Central
  more links...
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