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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Solar wind
speed: 563.3 km/sec
density: 0.0 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2346 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: C6
1738 UT May11
24-hr: C6
1738 UT May11
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2300 UT
Daily Sun: 11 May 12
Sunspot 1476 poses a continued threat for X-class solar flares. Credit: SDO/HMI
Sunspot number: 93
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 10 May 2012

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 0 days
2012 total: 0 days (0%)
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 10 May 2012

The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 131 sfu
explanation | more data
Updated 10 May 2012

Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
Planetary K-index
Now: Kp= 2 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 4
explanation | more data
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 3.6 nT
Bz: 1.0 nT north
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2346 UT
Coronal Holes: 11 May 12
Earth is inside a solar wind stream flowing from this coronal hole. Credit: SDO/AIA.
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2012 May 11 2200 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
75 %
75 %
20 %
20 %
Geomagnetic Storms:
Probabilities for significant disturbances in Earth's magnetic field are given for three activity levels: active, minor storm, severe storm
Updated at: 2012 May 11 2200 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
15 %
10 %
05 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
20 %
15 %
25 %
20 %
20 %
10 %
Friday, May. 11, 2012
What's up in space

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Own your own meteorite

CHANCE OF FLARES, EARTH-DIRECTED: NOAA forecasters estimate a 75% chance of M-class solar flares and a 20% chance of X-flares during the next 24 hours. Any eruptions are likely to be geoeffective because the source, sunspot AR1476, is directly facing our planet. X-flare alerts: text, phone.

Yesterday, May 10th, amateur astronomer David Maidment of Sohar, Oman caught the active region in mid-flare during a strong M5-class eruption:

The blast, which almost crossed the threshold into X-territory, did not produce a significant coronal mass ejection (CME). "There seemed to be no CME due to the fact that the plasma was captured and dragged back down to the sun," notes Maidment.

more images: from Sylvain Chapeland of Pays de Gex, France; from David Cortner of Rutherford College, NC; from Jett Aguilar of Quezon City, Philippines; from Rogerio Marcon of Campinas SP Brasil; from Paul Maxson of Surprise, Arizona; from Rusty Venture of Naperville, Illinois; from Richard Wagner of Lincolnshire, Illinois; from Larry Alvarez of Flower Mound, Texas

SPACESHIP IN THE SUN: The sunspot number briefly jumped today when a winged silhouette crossed the solar disk over Hampshire, UK. James West was watching the sun with a solar-filtered telescope when the transit occured:

"The International Space Station passed right by giant sunspot AR1476," says West. "The sky was partly cloudy but I caught the transit anyway."

The sunspot-spaceship encounter was no surprise to West. It had been predicted beforehand by Readers who wish to take this kind of photo should check CalSky for transit predictions and read West's observing tips. A safe solar observing system might also come in handy: Space Weather Store.

SUNSPOT SUNRISE: Sunspot AR1476 is so large, people are noticing it without the aide of a solar telescope. The behemoth appears at sunrise and sunset when the light of the low-hanging sun is occasionally dimmed to human visibility. Stefano De Rosa sends this picture from Turin, Italy:

Photo details: Canon Eos 5D Mark II; Focal length:700mm; Exp: 1/8000 sec; F/40; ISO:50

"This morning the sight of the majestic sunspot AR 1476 was great as the sun was rising alongside the Basilica of Superga!" says De Rosa.

The sunspot looks a lot like Hawaii, but it is much bigger than any island on Earth. From end to end the sprawling active region stretches ~160,000 km, or a dozen times wider than our entire planet. If you have a sunspot telescope, take a look. The view is magnificent.

more images: from William Parker of Port Angeles, WA; from Alberto Lao of Binondo, Manila, Philippines; from Tom Murdic of Franklin, Tennessee; from Jett Aguilar of Quezon City, Philippines;

Caution: Even when the sun is dimmed by clouds and haze, looking into the glare can damage your eyes. Looking through unfiltered optics is even worse. If you chose to photograph the low sun with a digital camera, please use the camera's LCD screen for pointing. Do not peer through the optical viewfinder.

  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 11, 2012 there were 1287 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Recent & Upcoming Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
2010 KK37
May 19
2.3 LD
31 m
4183 Cuno
May 20
47.4 LD
5.7 km
2002 VX94
May 26
72.8 LD
1.1 km
2002 AC
Jun 16
62.2 LD
1.2 km
1999 BJ8
Jun 16
68.8 LD
1.1 km
2005 GO21
Jun 21
17.1 LD
2.2 km
2003 KU2
Jul 15
40.3 LD
1.3 km
2004 EW9
Jul 16
46.8 LD
2.1 km
2002 AM31
Jul 22
13.7 LD
1.0 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
Trade Show Displays
  more links...
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