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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Current conditions
Solar wind
speed: 361.1 km/sec
density: 7.4 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2345 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: B6
1750 UT Jan26
24-hr: B6
1750 UT Jan26
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2340 UT
Daily Sun: 25 Jan. 10
Sunspots 1041 and 1042 are members of new Solar Cycle 24. Image credit: SOHO/MDI
Sunspot number: 34
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 25 Jan 2010

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 0 days
2010 total: 2 days (8%)
2009 total: 260 days (71%)
Since 2004: 772 days
Typical Solar Min: 485 days
explanation | more info
Updated 25 Jan 2010

The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 81 sfu
explanation | more data
Updated 25 Jan 2010

Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
Planetary K-index
Now: Kp= 1 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 2
explanation | more data
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 3.7 nT
Bz: 0.2 nT north
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2346 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 26 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: 2010 Jan 26 2201 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
05 %
05 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
05 %
05 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
What's up in Space
January 26, 2010

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


SPIRIT NOW A STATIONARY SCIENCE PLATFORM: NASA announced today that Mars rover Spirit cannot be freed from its Martian sandtrap. Now Spirit will begin a second career as a stationary science platform. Get the full story from Science@NASA.

MINOR METEOR OUTBURST: On the night of Jan. 20/21, an unexpected flurry of ten meteors emerged from the vicinity of Ursa Minor, the Little Dipper. "They were recorded by a network of six video cameras operated by amateur astronomers in Finland," report Peter Jenniskens of the SETI Institute in California and Esko Lyytinen of Helsinki, Finland. "We call them 'gamma Ursae Minorids.'"

This image shows a sky map of meteor trails recorded by the video network that night:

Image courtesy Esko Lyytinen and Peter Jenniskens

The gamma Ursae Minorids are traced in blue. "Note how the blue lines converge near a single radiant point," says Jenniskens. Inset is an actual meteor recorded by one of the cameras.

This isn't the first time the gamma Ursae Minorids have attracted attention. Peter Brown and coworkers at the University of Ontario have recorded their echoes for the past five years using the Canadian Meteor Orbit Radar (CMOR). But until now, the meteors were invisibly faint. According to Jenniskens, 2010 marks the first bright outburst that could be seen with the unaided eye.

"The source of this shower has not been identified," says Jenniskens. "It is probably a short-period comet passing not far from Jupiter. The 11-day duration of the gamma Ursae Minorids [in radar records] suggests that some significant breakup occurred not too long ago and the comet may now be hiding among the high inclination (i = 48.5 deg.) near-Earth asteroid population."

Will this brightening shower make an even bigger splash next year? No one knows, but Jenniskens plans to mark his calendar for Jan. 20, 2011: Don't forget the gamma Ursae Minorids.

LUNA-VERSE: Northern skies are icy. The Moon is waxing bright. Add these things together. Voila! A moon halo tonight:

Photo details: Canon EOS 1000D, ISO400, f5.6, 30 sec exposure

All around the northern hemisphere, sky watchers are reporting luminous rings around the Moon. "I saw this one on Jan. 25th," says photographer Rafael Schmall of Kaposfo, Hungary. "It was intense!" The phenomenon is caused by ice crystals in the air and has been known to inspire episodes of poetry. The verse should improve this Friday, Jan. 29th, when the Moon brightens to full intensity. On the same night, Mars will approach the Moon for a beautiful conjunction inside the halo. Take a look.

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 26, 2010 there were 1094 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
2010 AG3
Jan. 19
8.9 LD
14 m
2010 AN61
Jan. 19
8.0 LD
17 m
2010 AF40
Jan. 21
2.3 LD
43 m
2010 BC
Jan. 24
7.6 LD
160 m
2010 BU2
Jan. 27
6.4 LD
52 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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