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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Current conditions
Solar wind
speed: 313.4 km/sec
density: 3.1 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2346 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A0
2340 UT Jun09
24-hr: A0
0620 UT Jun09
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2340 UT
Daily Sun: 09 June 09
Small, faint sunspot 1020 is a member of new Solar Cycle 24. Credit: SOHO/MDI
Sunspot number: 12
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 09 Jun 2009

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 3 days
2009 total: 126 days (79%)
Since 2004: 637 days
Typical Solar Min: 485 days
explanation | more info
Updated 08 Jun 2009

Far side of the Sun:
This holographic image reveals no large sunspots on the far side of the sun. Image credit: SOHO/MDI
Planetary K-index
Now: Kp= 2 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 2
explanation | more data
Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 3.0 nT
Bz: 2.8 nT north
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2347 UT
Coronal Holes:
A solar wind stream flowing from this far-northern coronal hole will probably miss Earth. Credit: SOHO Extreme UV Telescope
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2009 Jun 09 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 Jun 09 2201 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
10 %
05 %
05 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
15 %
05 %
05 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
What's up in Space
June 9, 2009

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


BIG ASTEROID FLYBY: Today, June 9th, asteroid 2003 QO104 is passing by Earth only 9 million miles away. Measuring 2 miles in diameter, the massive asteroid is about 1/3rd the size of the K-T impactor that probably wiped out the dinosaurs 65 million years ago. There's no danger of a collision this time, it's just a photo-op.

flyby images: from Alberto Quijano Vodniza of Pasto, Nariño, Colombia

LUNAR OCCULTATION: Over the weekend, an unscheduled lunar occultation occurred over Brisbane, Australia. Amateur astronomer Stephen Mudge was outdoors for an stroll and had the presence of mind to snap this picture:

"I came across this rare astronomical event on the evening of June 7th. The nearly-full Moon was neatly covered by a native brushtailed possum wandering along the telephone wires on my street."

Brushtailed possums are nocturnal marsupials common throughout Australia and Tasmania. Their habitat ranges widely from eucalyptus forests to urban high-wires. In New Zealand, where they were introduced in 1840, the hungry creatures are widely regarded as pests--a result of too many kitchen break-ins and midnight snacks in vegetable gardens.

Could a knack for astronomy mitigate these crimes? Mudge thinks so: "This possum seems to be enjoying the view of the rising Moon, while its tail nicely matches that of Scorpius in the background!"

more moon shots: from Martin Stojanovski of Rudine, Macedonia; from John Stetson of Sebago Lake, Maine; from Stephen W. Ramsden of Atlanta, Georgia; from Elias Chasiotis of Sounio, Greece;

STRANGE LIGHTNING: High above Earth, in the realm of meteors and noctilucent clouds, a strange and beautiful form of lightning dances at the edge of space. Researchers call the bolts "sprites"; they are red, fleeting, and tend to come in bunches. Atmospheric scientist Oscar van der Velde of Sant Vicenç de Castellet, Spain, photographed this specimen on June 5th:

"With my new zoom lens I can now magnify the sky above thunderstorms to get very detailed images of sprites," says van der Velde. "This amazing 'carrot sprite' occurred near the coast of southern France about 250 km away from me."

"Sprites are a true space weather phenomenon," he adds. "They develop in mid-air around 80 km altitude, growing in both directions, first down, then up. This happens when a fierce lightning bolt draws lots of charge from a cloud near Earth's surface. Electric fields [shoot] to the top of Earth's atmosphere--and the result is a sprite. The entire process takes about 20 milliseconds."

Although sprites have been seen, off and on, for at least a century, most scientists did not believe they existed until after 1989 when sprites were photographed by cameras onboard the space shuttle. Now "sprite chasers" routinely photograph sprites from their own homes. "I set up a Watec 902H2 Ultimate security camera on my balcony and used UFOCapture software to catch the sprite," says van der Velde. Give it a try!

diagram: How to Look for Sprites (used with permission of

more images: from Oscar van der Velde of Sant Vicenç de Castellet, Spain; from Damir Segon of Pula, Croatia; from Mike Burdette of Bolivar, Missouri;

2009 Noctilucent Photo Gallery
[previous years: 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004, 2003]

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 June 9, 2009 there were 1062 potentially hazardous asteroids.
June 2009 Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
2009 KR21
June 1
0.7 LD
21 m
2009 KL8
June 1
5.1 LD
63 m
2003 QO104
June 9
36.8 LD
2.9 km
1994 CC
June 10
6.6 LD
1.2 km
2001 FE90
June 28
7.0 LD
435 m
2002 KL6
June 28
57.5 LD
1.4 km
2006 MV1
June 30
9.6 LD
20 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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