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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Current conditions
Solar wind
speed: 365.2 km/sec
density: 16.1 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2346 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A0
2340 UT Jan25
24-hr: A0
2340 UT Jan25
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2340 UT
Daily Sun: 25 Jan 09
The sun is blank--no sunspots. Credit: SOHO/MDI
Sunspot number: 0
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 24 Jan. 2009
Far side of the Sun:
This holographic image reveals no sunspots on the far side of the sun. Image credit: SOHO/MDI
Planetary K-index
Now: Kp= 0 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 0
explanation | more data
Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
What is the auroral oval?
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 4.1 nT
Bz: 0.9 nT south
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2347 UT
Coronal Holes:
A solar wind stream flowing from the indicated coronal hole should reach Earth on Jan. 26th or 27th. Credit: SOHO Extreme UV Telescope
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2009 Jan 25 2201 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: 2009 Jan 25 2201 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
10 %
20 %
01 %
05 %
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
15 %
25 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
What's up in Space
January 25, 2009

AURORA ALERT: Did you sleep through the Northern Lights? Next time get a wake-up call: Spaceweather PHONE.


STRANGE ASTEROID: Newly-discovered asteroid 2009 BD is slowly passing by Earth today only 400,000 miles away. The small 10m-wide space rock poses no threat, but it merits attention anyway. The orbit of 2009 BD appears to be almost identical to the orbit of Earth. 2009 BD may be a rare co-orbital asteroid, circling the sun in near-tandem with our planet. Extrapolating the motion of 2009 BD into the future, we see that it remains in the vicinity of Earth for many months to come, never receding farther than 0.1 AU (9.3 million miles) until Nov. 2010. Future observations may reveal the nature of this strange asteroid; stay tuned! [3D orbit] [ephemeris]

SOLAR ECLIPSE: The Year of the Ox is beginning with a solar eclipse. On Monday, Jan. 26th, the same new Moon that triggers the Chinese Lunar New Year will pass directly in front of the sun--dead center--covering 93% of the solar disk. The ensemble will form a stunning "ring of fire" visible across the Indian Ocean:

Click on the image, above, to launch an animated map of the eclipse prepared by graphic artist Larry Koehn. A regional map of Indonesia shows the best dry places to see the ring of fire: Borneo, Sumatra and Java.

Outside the narrow path of annularity, the Moon will cross the sun off-center, producing crescent suns of varying depth over south Africa, Madagascar, Australia, southern parts of India and southeast Asia. Sky watchers in those places should attend to the ground: crescent sunbeams will dapple the earth beneath leafy trees and garden latticework. Solar telescopes trained on the sky will show the Moon taking a bite out of the sun. Stay tuned for photos!

Live Solar Eclipse Webcasts
[NASA eclipse home page] [time tables]

APPROACHING COMET: Comet Lulin (C/2007 N3) is approaching Earth for a 38 million mile close encounter in late February. At that time, the comet could brighten to naked eye visibility (5th magnitude). Meanwhile, it's a nice target for backyard telescopes:

Chris Brennan of Barbados took the picture using a 7-inch telescope on Jan. 24th. "Note the double tail," he says.

M. Mc Kenna sends this report from Northern ireland: "I checked out Comet Lulin this morning before dawn using a 8.5-inch reflector. My immediate impression was that the comet is very bright; the coma is healthy and active with an obvious green color. [Note: The 'coma' is the comet's gaseous atmosphere.] Seeing both tails at the same time was quite a treat! I also looked at the comet using a pair of binoculars and despite the poor quality of the opticsI was still able to find the comet easily. Finally, I tried very carefully to detect it with the naked eye but I just couldn't convince myself that it was visible. However, I suspect that with excellent sky conditions the first naked eye observations will be reported very soon. This comet could very well put on a good show in February!"

Comet Lulin Photo Gallery
[Comet Hunter telescope] [sky map] [ephemeris]

Explore the Sunspot Cycle

Recent Fireballs: Jan. 23, Jan. 17, Dec. 29

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 25, 2009 there were 1017 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Jan. 2009 Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
2008 YC29
Jan. 2
3.4 LD
35 m
2008 YY32
Jan. 3
6.2 LD
40 m
2008 YG30
Jan. 4
3.6 LD
50 m
2008 YV32
Jan. 9
2.7 LD
25 m
2008 YF29
Jan. 11
9.7 LD
65 m
2002 AO11
Jan. 15
7.7 LD
120 m
1998 CS1
Jan. 17
11 LD
1.3 km
2009 BS5
Jan. 17
2.4 LD
15 m
2009 BJ2
Jan. 21
4.6 LD
16 m
2009 BE
Jan. 23
2.1 LD
26 m
2009 BD
Jan. 25
1.8 LD
10 m
2009 BO5
Jan. 25
6.7 LD
19 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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