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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Current conditions
Solar wind
speed: 296.2 km/sec
density: 1.0 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2345 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A0
1805 UT Jun15
24-hr: A0
1210 UT Jun15
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2340 UT
Daily Sun: 15 June 09
The sun is blank--no sunspots. Credit: SOHO/MDI
Sunspot number: 0
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 15 Jun 2009

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 3 days
2009 total: 130 days (78%)
Since 2004: 641 days
Typical Solar Min: 485 days
explanation | more info
Updated 15 Jun 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= 1 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 2
explanation | more data
Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 2.4 nT
Bz: 0.1 nT north
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2345 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 Jun 15 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 15 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
June 15, 2009

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


LAUNCH UPDATE: NASA managers have scheduled the next launch attempt of space shuttle Endeavour for 5:40 a.m. EDT on Wednesday, June 17th. As a result, the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) and Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS) are set to lift off together aboard an Atlas V rocket on Thursday, June 18th, one day later than originally planned. [updates]

TRIANGLE OF FIRE: Over the weekend, astronomers monitored a colossal "triangle of fire" on the limb of the sun. Click on the image below to launch a 1.5 hour movie (DivX required) recorded by Larry Alvarez of Flower Mound, Texas:

"The movie shows several blobs of plasma dripping like rain from the arch, while others leap up from the sun's surface to join the action," describes Alvarez. "At the end there is a small explosion off to the left that is extremely quick."

Prominences are clouds of hot plasma (ionized gas) held aloft by solar magnetic fields. How "plasma blobs" manage to leap and fall through the magnetic thicket is a matter of keen interest to nuclear engineers. Controlling plasma is key to the development of fusion reactors, and the sun is an excellent laboratory for studying interactions between plasma and magnetic fields.

There are many more prominences dancing around the edge of the sun today. Readers, if you have a solar telescope, take a look.

more images: from Guenter Kleinschuster of Feldbach, Styria, Austria; from Jacob Bassøe of Copenhagen, Denmark; from Mike Borman of Evansville, Indiana; from P. Fitzpatrick et al of South Portland, Maine; from Didier Favre of Brétigny-sur-Orge, France; from Günther Strauch of Borken, Germany; from Cai-Uso Wohler of Bispingen, Germany; from Matthias Juergens of Gnevsdorf, Germany; from Eric Roel of Valle de Bravo, México;

CIRCLE OF ICE: On June 14th, Odd Hoydalsvik looked up and saw a luminous white circle ringing the sky around his home in Koppang, Norway. It was huge, and this is as much of it as he could fit in the field of view of his Canon 450D:

The phenomenon is called a parhelic circle--"the first one I've ever seen," says Hoydalsvik. The great pale rings are formed by sunlight reflecting from the faces of ice crystals in high clouds. Many kinds of reflections (internal, external, single, double, triple and more) combine to form the complete circle. "The parhelic circle appears simple, yet more ray paths contribute to it than in any other halo," notes atmospheric optics expert Les Cowley.

Parhelic circles go completely around the sky--akin to the ring around a dirty bathtub--always at the same altitude as the sun. So when you see a portion of a parhelic circle, spin around to take in the whole thing. "It is beautiful," says Hoydalsvik.

EXTRA: "Hoydalsvik's image is also notable because it shows a bright 120o parhelion," says Les Cowley. "For example, click here and here."

more images: from John Stadtmiller of Tolsona, Alaska; from Erwan Henry of Carnac, Brittany, France; from Eva Seidenfaden of Trier, Germany; from Herfried Eisler of Strasbourg, France

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 15, 2009 there were 1063 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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