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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Current conditions
Solar wind
speed: 348.0 km/sec
density: 4.7 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2345 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: B2
2105 UT Jan23
24-hr: B4
0745 UT Jan23
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2340 UT
Daily Sun: 22 Jan. 10
Emerging sunspot 1042 is a member of new Solar Cycle 24. Image credit: SOHO/MDI
Sunspot number: 30
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 22 Jan 2010

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 0 days
2010 total: 2 days (9%)
2009 total: 260 days (71%)
Since 2004: 772 days
Typical Solar Min: 485 days
explanation | more info
Updated 22 Jan 2010

The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 82 sfu
explanation | more data
Updated 22 Jan 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: 4.8 nT
Bz: 3.7 nT south
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: 2010 Jan 23 2201 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
20 %
20 %
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 Jan 23 2201 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
05 %
05 %
01 %
01 %
00 %
00 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
05 %
05 %
01 %
01 %
00 %
00 %
What's up in Space
January 23, 2010

SATELLITE FLYBYS APP: Turn your iPhone or iPod into a field-tested satellite tracker! presents the Satellite Flybys app.


CLOSE ENCOUNTER WITH MARS: Earth and Mars are converging for a close encounter. On Jan. 27th, the Red Planet will be only 99 million kilometers (0.66 AU) away--the least distance in almost two years. Look for it rising in the east at sunset, pumpkin-colored and nearly as bright as Sirius, the brightest star in the sky. [finder chart]

LOW-FLYING SPACESHIP: Amateur astronomers have long known that the International Space Station looks great through a backyard telescope. Lately, it looks even better than usual. "For imaging fine detail on the space station, now is the right time because the ISS has descended to its lowest orbital height," explains Ralf Vandebergh of the Netherlands. "I took this picture through my 10-inch telescope on Jan. 14th."

"Normally, the station's four big solar panels are the most obvious elements visible from Earth, but in this picture they are almost invisible due to the lighting angle," he adds. "What the picture does show is the integrated truss structure, the backbone of the ISS in full-length with lots of detail."

The ISS is extremely bright--like Venus or Jupiter--and it moves slowly enough to follow with optics. Indeed, Vandebergh prefers to hand-track his telescope when photographing the ISS. Check the Simple Satellite Tracker for flybys!

MAGNETIC MAELSTROM: "Sunshine, warm temperatures, and two sunspots--it doesn't get much better than that on a January day in Buffalo," says astrophotographer Alan Friedman of New York. "I inverted this portrait of today's solar disk to highlight the strong magnetic disruptions caused by active region 1041."

Last week, the sunspot's magnetic field erupted five times, producing a string of M-class solar flares that marked the strongest spate of solar activity in nearly two years. Although it has since calmed, the maelstrom could erupt again at any time. Readers with solar telescopes are encouraged to monitor developments.

more images: from James Kevin Ty of Manila, the Philippines; from Pavol Rapavy of Observatory Rimavska Sobota, Slovakia; from Keith Davies of Swansea, South Wales, United Kingdom; from Peter Paice of Belfast, Northern Ireland; from Fabio Mariuzza of Biauzzo, Italy; from Steve Wainwright of Gower Peninsula, South Wales, UK

UPDATED: January Northern Lights Gallery
[previous Januarys: 2009, 2008, 2007, 2005, 2004, 2001]

Solar Eclipse Photo Gallery
[World Map of Eclipse Sightings]

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 January 23, 2010 there were 1093 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Jan. 2010 Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
2010 AL2
Jan. 11
11.5 LD
23 m
24761 Ahau
Jan. 11
70.8 LD
1.4 km
2000 YH66
Jan. 12
69.5 LD
1.1 km
2010 AL30
Jan. 13
0.3 LD
18 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 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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