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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Solar wind
speed: 336.5 km/sec
density: 0.1 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2345 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: B2
1847 UT Nov19
24-hr: B2
1847 UT Nov19
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2300 UT
Daily Sun: 19 Nov 10
Solar activity is low. None of the spots on the Earth-facing side of the sun is an active source of flares. Credit: SDO/HMI. 2-day movie: 9 MB mpg
Sunspot number: 40
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 18 Nov 2010

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 0 days
2010 total: 45 days (14%)
2009 total: 260 days (71%)
Since 2004: 813 days
Typical Solar Min: 486 days

Updated 18 Nov 2010

The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 87 sfu
explanation | more data
Updated 18 Nov 2010

Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
Planetary K-index
Now: Kp= 0 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 1
explanation | more data
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 5.9 nT
Bz: 0.6 nT north
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2346 UT
Coronal Holes: 18 Nov 10
There are no large coronal holes on the Earth-facing side of the sun. Credit: SDO/AIA.
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2010 Nov 19 2200 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: 2010 Nov 19 2200 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
10 %
10 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
10 %
10 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
Friday, Nov. 19, 2010
What's up in space

AURORA ALERTS: Did you miss the Northern Lights? Next time get a wake-up call from Space Weather PHONE


COMET SNOWSTORM ENGULFS HARTLEY 2: At a press conference today at NASA headquarters, researchers released beautiful new images of an unprecedented snowstorm raging around Comet Hartley 2. Get the full story from Science@NASA.

EVAPORATING COMET: A bright comet just discovered on Nov. 17th by Polish comet hunter Michal Kusiak is about to disappear forever. The problem is, it is diving toward the sun. Click on the image to view a movie of the death plunge:

Play it again and note how the head of the comet is shrinking and dimming. The icy visitor from the outer solar system is evaporating before our very eyes.

On Nov. 14th, another comet followed the same path and met the same fate. It's no coincidence. Both are fragments of a giant parent comet that broke apart about 2000 years ago. Astronomers call them "Kruetz sungrazers" after the 19th century German researcher, Heinrich Kreutz, who studied them in detail. According to some estimates, several Kruetz comets pass by the sun and disintegrate every day. Most are too small to see, but occasionally a large fragment (or two) attracts attention.

THE PASSING OF BRIAN MARSDEN: On Nov. 18th, astronomers around the world were saddened to learn that Brian Marsden died. Best known as the long-time director of the Minor Planet Center, Marsden was for decades a key figure in attending to the discovery of new comets and asteroids. He was particularly fascinated by the family of Kreutz comets, and made important contributions to the understanding of their dynamics and history. Today's bright disintegration of a Kreutz sungrazer is a fitting send-off for this eminent astronomer. [Sky & Telescope: Brian G. Marsden (1937-2010)]

LEONID RECAP: Earth is exiting a thicket of debris from Comet Tempel-Tuttle, source of the annual Leonid meteor shower. According to international counts, the shower crested on Nov. 17th and 18th with a peak rate of 20 meteors per hour. Compared to, say, the Leonid storms of a decade ago, it was not an impressive display--that is, unless you added it up for five nights in a row:

"These are all the Leonid fireballs I recorded from Nov. 13th to Nov. 18th," says Jim Gamble, who operates an all-sky camera in El Paso, Texas. "In total, there were 16 Leonids of magnitude -3 or brighter." Considering that Earth missed the densest part of the Leonid debris stream in 2010, more than a dozen fireballs is a good haul.

A bigger display is coming: In early December, Earth will enter a cloud of debris from extinct comet Phaethon, setting off the annual Geminid meteor shower. On peak night, Dec. 14th, forecasters expect as many as 100 meteors per hour, five times greater than the waning Leonids. Stay tuned!

more images: from Yuichi Takasaka of Gingolx (Kincolith), British Columbia, Canada; from Thomas Kerns of Homer, Alaska; from Yaron Eini of Jerusalem, Israel;

November 2010 Aurora Gallery
[previous Novembers: 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2004, 2003, 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 November 19, 2010 there were 1164 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...
Northern Lights tours with Artic Pathfinder
Fine astrophotography and gift cards by Alan Friedman outreach, imaging, and reviews
2010 Perseid meteor shower
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space weather alerts
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Superior Labels - Out of this World!
Christmas Cards
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