You are viewing the page for May. 20, 2014
  Select another date:
<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids Internet Shopping Sites high quality binoculars excellent weather stations all-metal reflector telescopes rotatable microscopes
Solar wind
speed: 336.6 km/sec
density: 2.9 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2347 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: C1
2135 UT May20
24-hr: C1
0152 UT May20
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2300 UT
Daily Sun: 20 May 14
None of these sunspots has a complex magnetic field that harbors energy for strong flares. Solar activity is low. Credit: SDO/HMI
Sunspot number: 130
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 20 May 2014

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 0 days
2014 total: 0 days (0%)
2013 total: 0 days (0%)
2012 total: 0 days (0%)
2011 total: 2 days (<1%)
2010 total: 51 days (14%)
2009 total: 260 days (71%)

20 May 2014

The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 117 sfu
explanation | more data
Updated 20 May 2014

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: 4.4 nT
Bz: 1.5 nT north
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2347 UT
Coronal Holes: 20 May 14
There are no large coronal holes on the Earthside of the sun. Credit: SDO/AIA. posts daily satellite images of noctilucent clouds (NLCs), which hover over Earth's poles at the edge of space. The data come from NASA's AIM spacecraft. The north polar "daisy" pictured below is a composite of near-realtime images from AIM assembled by researchers at the University of Colorado's Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (LASP).
Noctilucent Clouds
Switch view: Europe, USA, Asia, Polar
Updated at: 05-20-2014 10:55:03
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2014 May 19 2225 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
10 %
10 %
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: 2014 May 19 2225 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
05 %
15 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
15 %
20 %
15 %
30 %
05 %
20 %
Tuesday, May. 20, 2014
What's up in space

When is the best time to see auroras? Where is the best place to go? And how do you photograph them? These questions and more are answered in a new book, Northern Lights - a Guide, by Pal Brekke & Fredrik Broms.

Northern Lights - a Guide

SOMETHING BREWING IN THE PACIFIC: According to data from the NASA/French Space Agency Jason-2 satellite, something is brewing in the Pacific. Researchers say it could be a significant El NiƱo with implications for global weather and climate. Get the full story from Science@NASA.

IRONIC COMET LINEAR: On May 24th, the heavens could put on a display of irony. Forecasters say Earth will cross a stream of debris from Comet 209P/LINEAR, and the encounter could trigger a bright new meteor shower. The ironic thing is, the comet is so faint:

Aaron Kingery of NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office took the picture on May 18th using a 0.5 meter telescope at the Marshall Space Flight Center. "209P is not a very photogenic comet," says Kingery. "This is the best I could do with a 60-second exposure."

How could such a dim comet produce a bright meteor shower? In 2014, 209P is producing very little dust. However, the debris Earth is about to encounter didn't come from 2014. It was shed by the comet mainly in the 19th and 20th centuries. In those days, forecasters hope, the comet was more active.

We will find out this weekend. If a magnificent meteor shower erupts on Saturday morning, it will be safe to say that the comet wasn't always so underwhelming. Get the full story and observing tips from Science@NASA.

Realtime Meteor Photo Gallery
[listen: meteor radar]

SOLAR 'MINI-MAX': Last month at the Space Weather Workshop in Boulder, Colorado, solar cycle expert Doug Biesecker of NOAA announced that "Solar Maximum is here, finally." According to his analysis, the sunspot number for Solar Cycle 24 is near its peak right now. Spoiler: It's not very impressive. "This solar cycle continues to rank among the weakest on record," says Workshop attendee Ron Turner of Analytic Services, Inc. To illustrate the point, he plotted the smoothed sunspot number of Cycle 24 vs. the previous 23 cycles since 1755:

In the composite plot, Cycle 24 is traced in red. Only a few cycles since the 18th century have have had lower sunspot counts. For this reason, many researchers have started calling the ongoing peak a "Mini-Max."

"By all Earth-based measures of geomagnetic and geoeffective solar activity, this cycle has been extremely quiet," notes Turner. "However, Doug Biesecker has presented several charts showing that most large events such as strong flares and significant geomagnetic storms occur in the declining phase of the solar cycle."

In other words, there is still a chance for significant solar activity in the months and years ahead. Let's just hope it is not too significant. Solar flare alerts: text, voice

Realtime Space Weather Photo Gallery

Realtime Aurora Photo Gallery

Realtime Mars Photo Gallery

Realtime Comet Photo Gallery

  All Sky Fireball Network

Every night, a network of NASA all-sky cameras scans the skies above the United States for meteoritic fireballs. Automated software maintained by NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office calculates their orbits, velocity, penetration depth in Earth's atmosphere and many other characteristics. Daily results are presented here on

On May. 19, 2014, the network reported 5 fireballs.
(5 sporadics)

In this diagram of the inner solar system, all of the fireball orbits intersect at a single point--Earth. The orbits are color-coded by velocity, from slow (red) to fast (blue). [Larger image] [movies]

  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 May 20, 2014 there were potentially hazardous asteroids.
Recent & Upcoming Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
2010 JO33
May 17
4 LD
43 m
2014 KD
May 19
7.7 LD
57 m
2014 KD2
May 20
5.2 LD
41 m
2005 UK1
May 20
36.7 LD
1.1 km
1997 WS22
May 21
47.1 LD
1.5 km
2002 JC
May 24
48.7 LD
1.4 km
2014 HQ124
Jun 8
3.3 LD
620 m
2011 PU1
Jul 18
7.6 LD
43 m
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
Space Weather Alerts
  more links...
©2010 All rights reserved. This site is penned daily by Dr. Tony Phillips.
©2019 All rights reserved.