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SpaceWeather.com -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids

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Science news and information about the Sun-Earth environment.

SPACE WEATHER
Current
Conditions

Solar Wind
speed: 399.2 km/s
density:
1.4 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2245 UT

X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max:
B1 2120 UT May11
24-hr: B1 2120 UT May11
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2245 UT

Daily Sun: 11 May '07

Sunspot 955 is growing rapidly, but it does not yet pose a threat for solar flares. Credit: SOHO/MDI


Sunspot Number: 20
What is the sunspot number?
Updated: 10 May 2007

Far Side of the Sun

This holographic image reveals no sunspots on the farside of the sun, mage credit: SOHO/MDI

Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 1.8 nT
Bz:
1.4 nT north
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2246 UT

Coronal Holes:

There are no coronal holes on the Earth-facing side of the sun today. Credit: SOHO Extreme UV telescope


SPACE WEATHER
NOAA
Forecasts

Solar Flares: Probabilities for a medium-sized (M-class) or a major (X-class) solar flare during the next 24/48 hours are tabulated below.
Updated at 2007 May 11 2203 UTC
FLARE 0-24 hr 24-48 hr
CLASS M 05 % 05 %
CLASS X 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 2007 May 11 2203 UTC
Mid-latitudes
0-24 hr 24-48 hr
ACTIVE 15 % 15 %
MINOR 05 % 05 %
SEVERE 01 % 01 %

High latitudes
0-24 hr 24-48 hr
ACTIVE 20 % 20 %
MINOR 10 % 10 %
SEVERE 05 % 05 %

What's Up in Space -- 11 May 2007
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What's the name of that star? Where's Saturn? Get the answers from mySKY--a fun new astronomy helper from Meade.

SPACE STATION MOVIE: To the naked eye, the International Space Station (ISS) gliding across the night sky appears as a bright point of light. If you turn a backyard telescope on that point, however, it resolves into a sprawling space complex almost as wide as a football field. Ralf Vandebergh of the Netherlands made this movie of the view through his 10-inch telescope on April 19th. Anyone can see the ISS this way; the trick is knowing when to look.

SOLAR ACTIVITY: Today, sunspot 955 is growing rapidly near the center of the sun's disk, but that's not what caught the attention of astrophotographer Jack Newton. Looking through his SolarMax90, he noticed a lively display of prominences along the sun's limb:

"They were gorgeous," he says.

Prominences are clouds of hydrogen held above the sun's surface by magnetic force fields. They can be quite entertaining to watch as they surge and sway like gargantuan flames. Since Newton took his picture, prominences have begun to sprout along the entire expanse of the eastern limb: SOHO image. Stay tuned for more.

HALF-A-PLANET: How many planets does it take to make a bright light in the evening sky? Answer: One-half. See for yourself this evening when Venus beams through the sunset. To the naked eye, Venus is a glaring point of light; through a backyard telescope, it looks like this:

Sean Walker of Chester, New Hampshire, took the picture on May 8th using a 12-inch Newtonian telescope. It shows that Venus, like the Moon, has phases and at the moment Venus is only half full.

His picture also reveals a mystery: dark bands in the planet's global clouds. These bands appear in photos taken through ultraviolet filters. "I used a Baader Venus (UV) filter," says Walker. Some unknown substance within the clouds strongly absorbs UV light, accounting for almost half the solar energy trapped by Venus. Whatever is in there, it plays a big role in maintaining Venus' hellish climate; the average temperature on the surface is about 460° Celsius. Astronomers have been studying the bands since Mariner 10 spotted them in the 1970s, but decades later no one knows the identity of the "UV absorbers." Candidates range from gaseous chlorine and sulfur compounds to alien life using UV radiation as a source of energy. Perhaps Venus Express, a European spacecraft orbiting Venus now, will be able to solve the puzzle.

more images: from Neil Phillips of Crayford, Kent, United Kingdom.



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 11 May 2007 there were 859 known Potentially
Hazardous Asteroids

April 2007 Earth-asteroid encounters
ASTEROID

 DATE
(UT)

MISS DISTANCE

MAG.

 SIZE
2007 DS84

Apr. 14

16 LD

15

325 m
2007 GU1

Apr. 16

2.1 LD

16

45 m
2007 HA

Apr. 17

6.5 LD

13

300 m
Notes: LD is a "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 Environment Center -- The official U.S. government bureau for real-time monitoring of solar and geophysical events, research in solar-terrestrial physics, and forecasting solar and geophysical disturbances.

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. (European Mirror Site)

Daily Sunspot Summaries -- from the NOAA Space Environment Center.

Current Solar Images -- from the National Solar Data Analysis Center

Recent Solar Events -- a summary of current solar conditions from lmsal.com.

What is the Magnetosphere?

The Lion Roars -- visit this site to find out what the magnetosphere sounds like.

List of Potentially Hazardous Asteroids -- from the Harvard Minor Planet Center.

Observable Comets -- from the Harvard Minor Planet Center.

Real-time Solar Wind Data -- from NASA's ACE spacecraft.

How powerful are solar wind gusts? Not very! Read this story from Science@NASA.

More Real-time Solar Wind Data -- from the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory Proton Monitor.

Lists of Coronal Mass Ejections -- from 1996 to 2006

Mirages: Mirages in Finland; An Introduction to Mirages;

NOAA Solar Flare and Sunspot Data: 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999; 2000; 2001; 2002; 2003; 2004; 2005; Jan-Mar 2006; Apr-Jun 2006; Jul-Sep 2006; Oct-Dec 2006.

This site is penned daily by Dr. Tony Phillips: email


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