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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Solar wind
speed: 431.2 km/sec
density: 2.4 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2345 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: B2
2305 UT Oct19
24-hr: C1
0650 UT Oct19
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2340 UT
Daily Sun: 19 Oct 10
A rash of new sunspots is emerging at the circled location. Credit: SOHO/MDI. 2-day movie: 9 MB mpg
Sunspot number: 69
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 18 Oct 2010

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 0 days
2010 total: 45 days (15%)
2009 total: 260 days (71%)
Since 2004: 813 days
Typical Solar Min: 486 days

Updated 18 Oct 2010

The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 91sfu
explanation | more data
Updated 18 Oct 2010

Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
Planetary K-index
Now: Kp= 0 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 2
explanation | more data
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 5.5 nT
Bz: 3.7 nT south
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2346 UT
Coronal Holes: 18 Oct 10
A solar wind stream flowing from the indicated coronal hole could reach Earth on or about Oct. 20th. Credit: SDO/AIA.
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2010 Oct 19 2200 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
15 %
05 %
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 Oct 19 2200 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
10 %
20 %
01 %
05 %
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
25 %
25 %
10 %
10 %
01 %
01 %
Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2010
What's up in space

ON SALE NOW: The David H. Levy Comet Hunter -- offering the clearest views of Comet Hartley 2.


JUPITER-MOON CONJUNCTION: Look east after sunset. Jupiter and the Moon are having a close encounter (< 6o) in the constellation Pisces. The bright conjunction is visible even from light-polluted urban areas, no sky map required.

Jupiter-Moon images: from Stefano De Rosa of Turin, Italy;

FILAMENT ERUPTION: For days, astronomers have been monitoring a "mega-filament" of magnetism splayed across the sun's southern hemisphere. Measuring more than 500,000 km from end to end, it spans a distance greater than the separation of Earth and the Moon. Oct. 18th the massive structure erupted:

Movie formats: 1.6 MB mpeg, 1 MB m4v. Credit: Solar Dynamics Observatory

Instabilities in the filament sparked a C2-class flare and hurled a portion of the filament's own magnetic backbone into space. The blast was not Earth-directed. Remarkably, the structure survived mostly intact and is still visible in backyard optics. Readers with solar telescopes are encouraged to monitor developments.

more images: from Paul Maxson of Surprise, Arizona; from Didier Favre of Brétigny sur Orge, France; from Jan Timmermans of Valkenswaard, The Netherlands; from Stephen W. Ramsden of Atlanta, GA; from Francesc Pruneda of Palamos, Girona, Spain;

TIME TO SEE COMET HARTLEY: For backyard stargazers, now is the best time to see green Comet 103P/Hartley 2 as it approaches Earth for an 11-million-mile close encounter on Oct. 20th. Set your alarm for the dark hours before dawn, go outside, and look straight up. You will find Hartley 2 not far from the bright star Capella: sky map. Although the comet is barely visible to the unaided eye, it is easy to find in binoculars and looks great through a backyard telescope.

Rolando Ligustri has been observing the comet nightly using a robotic 14-inch telescope in New Mexico. Click on the image to view the most recent week, including last night:

Many readers have asked, why is the comet green? Answer: Hartley 2's green color comes from the gases that make up its Jupiter-sized atmosphere. Jets spewing from the comet's nucleus contain cyanogen (CN: a poisonous gas found in many comets) and diatomic carbon (C2). Both substances glow green when illuminated by sunlight in the near-vacuum of space.

NASA scientists say 103P/Hartley 2 is one of the most active comets they've seen, with copious outgassing from jets in the nucleus. Amateur astronomers are encouraged to monitor the action and submit their images here.

more images: from Tom Jorgenson of Neenah, Wisconsin; from Yandong Hu of Mt. Wawushan, Jiangsu, China; from Rolando Ligustri using a robotic telescope in New Mexico; from Marian Urbaník of Staškov, Slovak republic; from John Chumack of Dayton, Ohio; from Jan Koeman of Kloetinge, the Netherlands; from Jodi and Roy McCullough of Salem Ohio; from Mike Broussard of Maurice, Louisiana; from Mike Holloway of Van Buren, Arkansas; from Norm Klekoda and Al Bell near Grand Rapids, MI; from Doug Zubenel of Monument Rocks, Gove County, Kansas; from Gregg Ruppel of Ellisville, Missouri

UPDATED: October 2010 Aurora Gallery
[previous Octobers: 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001]

  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 19, 2010 there were 1155 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Recent & Upcoming Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
2010 TQ19
Oct 8
9.6 LD
37 m
2010 TS19
Oct 10
3.7 LD
31 m
2010 TD54
Oct 12
0.1 LD
7 m
2010 TB54
Oct 13
6.1 LD
19 m
1999 VO6
Oct 14
34.3 LD
1.8 km
2010 TK
Oct 16
4.5 LD
37 m
1998 TU3
Oct 17
69.1 LD
5.2 km
2010 TG19
Oct 22
1.1 LD
70 m
1998 MQ
Oct 23
77.7 LD
1.9 km
2007 RU17
Oct 29
39.2 LD
1.1 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
2010 JL33
Dec 9
16.6 LD
1.3 km
2008 EA32
Jan 7
76.5 LD
2.1 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
Science Central
  more links...
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