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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Solar wind
speed: 449.9 km/sec
density: 0.1 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2343 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: C1
2147 UT Aug29
24-hr: C3
0721 UT Aug29
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2300 UT
Daily Sun: 29 Aug 11
All of the labeled sunspots are relatively quiet. No strong flares are in the offing. Credit: SDO/HMI
Sunspot number: 73
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 28 Aug 2011

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 0 days
2011 total: 2 days (<1%)
2010 total: 51 days (14%)
2009 total: 260 days (71%)
Since 2004: 821 days
Typical Solar Min: 486 days

Updated 28 Aug 2011

The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 101 sfu
explanation | more data
Updated 28 Aug 2011

Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
Planetary K-index
Now: Kp= 3 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 3
explanation | more data
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 3.8 nT
Bz: 0.5 nT north
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2344 UT
Coronal Holes: 29 Aug 11
A solar wind stream flowing from the indicated coronal hole could hit Earth on Aug. 29th. Credit: SDO/AIA.
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2011 Aug 29 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: 2011 Aug 29 2200 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
15 %
15 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
20 %
15 %
05 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
Monday, Aug. 29, 2011
What's up in space

Turn your cell phone into a field-tested satellite tracker. Works for Android and iPhone.

Satellite flybys

SUN SHOW: Today, amateur astronomers are monitoring a magnificent prominence slowly arcing over the sun's northwestern limb. The magnetic loop in these images is probably connected to active sunspot 1271, which has just rotated over the limb onto the far side of the sun. Readers with solar telescopes are encouraged to monitor developments.

CHANCE OF AURORAS: NOAA forecasters estimate a 25% chance of polar geomagnetic activity today in response to the expected impact of an incoming solar wind stream. Arctic sky watchers should be alert for auroras.

Lance Parrish of Skiland, Alaska, photographed this display just after midnight on August 29th:

"Note the hint of sunset in the background," notes Parrish. "As summer winds down the midnight sun is retreating, allowing us to see Northern Lights again."

Teenage photographer Brandon Lovett, who just turned 18, witnessed the same display about 20 miles away in Fairbanks. "It was unbelievable! [The sky] burst into a colorful dancing display of green, white, pink, purple, and much more. These photos have not been re-touched; they are straight out of the camera."

August 2011 Aurora Gallery
[previous Augusts: 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002]

WEEKEND COMET SHOW: Over the weekend, incoming Comet Garradd passed beautifully close to globular star cluster M71. For all those amateur astronomers caught under hurricane clouds, John Chumack of Dayton, Ohio, recorded the encounter in the form of a 2.5 hour time-lapse movie:

"It was so cool watching the comet's tail cross the cluster," says Chumack. "I had a great view through my home-made 16-inch telescope."

At the moment, Comet Garradd can only be seen through a backyard telescope (recommended: The Comet Hunter). It is, however, approaching the sun and brightening. Recent projections place it at peak magnitude 6, on the threshold of naked-eye visibility, in February 2012. Because Comet Garradd is a first-time visitor to the inner solar system, it could behave in unexpected ways, perhaps exceeding those expectations. Stay tuned--and meanwhile browse the image links below.

weekend images: from Daniele Cipollina of Arquata Scrivia, Alessandria, Italy; from Nick Howes of Cherhill in Wiltshire UK; from Ulf Petersson of Öland, Sweden; from Doug Zubenel of Linn Co., Kansas; from Marek Harman of Vartovka observatory, Banská Bystrica, Slovakia; from Karl Beck of Observatory Michelbach, Austria; from Jimmy Westlake of Stagecoach, Colorado; from Marian Urbaník of Čadca, Slovak republic; from Becky Ramotowski of Tijeras, New Mexico.

comet links: finder charts, 3D orbit.

  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 August 29, 2011 there were 1241 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Recent & Upcoming Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
2003 QC10
Sep 18
50 LD
1.2 km
2004 SV55
Sep 19
67.5 LD
1.2 km
2007 TD
Sep 23
3.8 LD
58 m
2002 AG29
Oct 9
77.1 LD
1.0 km
2000 OJ8
Oct 13
49.8 LD
2.5 km
2009 TM8
Oct 17
1.1 LD
8 m
2011 FZ2
Nov 7
75.9 LD
1.6 km
2005 YU55
Nov 8
0.8 LD
175 m
1994 CK1
Nov 16
68.8 LD
1.5 km
1996 FG3
Nov 23
39.5 LD
1.1 km
2003 WM7
Dec 9
47.6 LD
1.5 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
Conquest Graphics
  for out-of-this-world printing and graphics
Trade Show Displays
  more links...
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