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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Current conditions
Solar wind
speed: 425.4 km/sec
density: 2.8 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2344 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: B1
2205 UT Jul05
24-hr: B1
2205 UT Jul05
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2340 UT
Daily Sun: 05 Jul 10
A new sunspot provisionally numbered 1086 is forming in the sun's northern hemisphere.Credit: SOHO/MDI
Sunspot number: 11
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 04 July 2010

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 0 days
2010 total: 35 days (19%)
2009 total: 260 days (71%)
Since 2004: 803 days
Typical Solar Min: 486 days
explanation | more info
Updated 04 July 2010

The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 72 sfu
explanation | more data
Updated 04 July 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: 3.6 nT
Bz: 3 nT south
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2346 UT
Coronal Holes:
A minor solar wind stream flowing from the indicated coronal hole should hit Earth's magnetic field on or about July 9th. Credit: SDO/AIA
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2010 Jul 05 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 Jul 05 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
July 5, 2010

ANDROID FLYBYS: Our field-tested satellite tracker is now available for Android phones. Features: Global predictions and flyby alarms! Learn more.


PLUTO AND THE BLACK CLOUD: This week, Pluto is transiting Barnard 92, an inky black cloud of dust in the constellation Sagittarius. "Just after midnight on the 4th of July, I was able to photograph the beginning of the transit using a 10-inch telescope," reports Alfredo Garcia Jr. "Pluto was faint but very obvious against the dark background: image." Experienced astrophotographers are encouraged to follow the dwarf planet as it makes its lonely crossing--and submit your images here.

SUN HALO: Temperatures in Kolkata, India, today are above 90 degrees F. So when a gathering thundercloud drifted in front of the sun, producing a patch of cool shade on the ground, photographer Rana Khan looked up gratefully. Then he scrambled for a camera!

"This stunning halo appeared when the sun was nearly overhead and lasted for almost 30 minutes," says Khan. "It was very bright."

The halo tells us that, despite the heat, the air many kilometers above Kolkata is peppered with ice crystals. Sunlight shining through the tiny prism-like crystals produced a rainbow-colored ring. Actually there are two rings: a 22o halo and a circumscribed halo overlapping almost perfectly to create a very cool spectacle on a very hot day.

Earth's atmosphere always contains ice crystals. Even when it is sweltering at ground level, the air 10 km high is freezing, and only a little moisture is required to produce a swarm of crystals ready to play beautiful tricks with sunlight. So no matter where you live, find a patch of shade and keep looking up.

more images: from Phillip Bonn of Shore Acres, Oregon; from Dirk Peeters of Lichtaart, Belgium; from Santi Sulistiani of Bandung, West Java, Indonesia

WHIRLPOOL SUNSPOT: "Sunspot 1084 reminds me of the Whirlpool Galaxy (M51)," says astrophotographer Mike Borman. The resemblance is certainly uncanny in this photo he took on July 3rd from his backyard observatory in Evansville, Indiana:

"I used a Coronado SolarMax90 to image the sunspot," says Borman. "The inset of M51 comes from Hubble."

The appearance of the sunspot is shaped by its spiraling magnetic field, which organizes the plasma around it like a whirpool. The configuration seems to be remarkably stable because the sunspot has not produced the slightest hint of a solar flare in many days. Indeed, the whirlpool does not seem to move at all. It is like a giant tornado of hot plasma and magnetism frozen in place.

The sun's rotation is carrying this photogenic spot toward the western limb where it will disappear later this week. Readers with solar telescopes, catch it before it goes!

more images: from Pete Lawrence of Selsey, West Sussex, UK; from Germano Tosi of Moncenisio, Italy

Lunar Eclipse Photo Gallery
[Science@NASA: Big Lunar Eclipse] [astronomy alerts]

May 2010 Aurora Gallery
[previous Mays: 2008, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002] [aurora alerts]

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 July 5, 2010 there were 1138 potentially hazardous asteroids.
June-July 2010 Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
2010 JR34
May 14
5.8 LD
12 m
2003 HR32
May 17
55.2 LD
1.0 km
2010 JN71
May 26
8.2 LD
245 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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