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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Current conditions
Solar wind
speed: 345.0 km/sec
density: 1.1 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2345 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A0
2340 UT May30
24-hr: A0
1245 UT May30
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2340 UT
Daily Sun: 30 May 09
The sun is blank--no sunspots. Credit: SOHO/MDI
Sunspot number: 0
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 29 May 2009

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 6 days
2009 total: 122 days (82%)
Since 2004: 633 days
Typical Solar Min: 485 days
explanation | more info
Updated 29 May 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= 2
explanation | more data
Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 1.1 nT
Bz: 0.1 nT north
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2346 UT
Coronal Holes:
There are no coronal holes on the Earth-facing side of the sun. Credit: SOHO Extreme UV Telescope
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2009 May 30 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 May 30 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
May 30, 2009

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


NEW SOLAR CYCLE PREDICTION: An international panel of experts has issued a new prediction for the solar cycle which takes into account the surprisingly deep solar minimum of 2008-2009. Read today's story from Science@NASA to find out when they think solar maximum will return.

FIRST NLCs of 2009: New data from NASA's AIM spacecraft show that noctilucent clouds (NLCs) are like a great "geophysical light bulb." They turn on every year in late spring, reaching almost full intensity over a period of no more than 5 to 10 days.

News flash: The bulb is beginning to glow. The first NLCs of 2009 were sighted over Russia on May 27th, and an even brighter display appeared last night, May 29th, over Denmark and the British Isles. Martin Mc Kenna sends these snapshots from Maghera, Northern Ireland:

"The glowing clouds were more than 100 degrees wide with white, blue and even subtle yellow and green colours," says Mc Kenna. "It was an excellent display to start the season and a good omen of major events to come in the near future!"

The display was also witnessed by from John C Mcconnell of Maghaberry Northern Ireland (photos); Paul Evans of Larne, Northern Ireland (photos); and Ian Brantingham near Banff, Scotland (photos).

There is a well-known correlation between noctilucent clouds and the solar cycle. NLC activity tends to peak during years of solar minimum, possibly because low solar activity allows the upper atmosphere to cool, promoting the growth of ice crystals that make up the clouds. With a century-class solar minimum underway, the stage is set for a good season of NLC watching.

Typically, the first NLCs of spring are wan and pale, followed by better displays as summer unfolds. Browse the galleries from previous years to see what may be in the offing: 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004, 2003.

JUPITER'S MOON SHOW: Every six years, Earth spends a number of months passing through the orbital plane of Jupiter's moons. During the passage, amateur astronomers get to see a rare display of "mutual occultations." Jupiter's moons eclipse one another in plain view of backyard telescopes.

On May 25th, Mike Salway of Central Coast, Australia, watched Ganymede eclipse Io. Click on the still-frame to launch a 0.25 MB movie:

Images like these are unprecedented. Although Jupiter's moons put on the same kind of show in 2002-2003, no one recorded such clear pictures. "Imaging techniques and equipment have improved immensely over the past 6 years," notes Salway. "So this is the first year where amateurs are recording these events and producing detailed, high-resolution images of the phenomena."

If you missed the Ganymede-Io eclipse, don't worry. There are plenty more to come. Mutual occultations of Jupiter's moons will continue from now until nearly the end of the year. As part of the International Year of Astronomy, professional astronomers are organizing a worldwide observing campaign to record as many of these events as possible. Click here for details.

more images: from Efrain Morales Rivera of Aguadilla, Puerto Rico; from Paul Maxson of Surprise, Arizona

April 2009 Aurora Gallery
[previous Aprils: 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002]

Explore the Sunspot Cycle

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 30, 2009 there were 1061 potentially hazardous asteroids.
May 2009 Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
2009 JA
May 4
7.5 LD
37 m
2006 FG3
May 6
60.7 LD
1.1 km
2001 SG286
May 17
11.5 LD
280 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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