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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Solar wind
speed: 412.9 km/sec
density: 0.8 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2344 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: C3
2052 UT Oct19
24-hr: C3
2052 UT Oct19
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2259 UT
Daily Sun: 19 Oct 12
New sunspot 1596 is large and might pose a threat for M-class solar flares. More about this active region will be known in the days ahead as it turns to face Earth. Credit: SDO/HMI
Sunspot number: 112
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 19 Oct 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

Update 19 Oct 2012

The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 138 sfu
explanation | more data
Updated 19 Oct 2012

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: 2.8 nT
Bz: 1.3 nT north
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2345 UT
Coronal Holes: 19 Oct 12
There are no large coronal holes on the Earthside of the sun. Credit: SDO/AIA.
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2012 Oct 19 2200 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
10 %
10 %
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: 2012 Oct 19 2200 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
05 %
10 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
15 %
20 %
10 %
25 %
05 %
10 %
Friday, Oct. 19, 2012
What's up in space

Listen to radar echoes from satellites and meteors, live on listener-supported Space Weather Radio.

Spaceweather Radio is on the air

ORIONID METEOR SHOWER: Next weekend, Earth will pass through a stream of debris from Halley's Comet, source of the annual Orionid meteor shower. Forecasters expect ~25 meteors per hour when the shower peaks on Oct. 21st. [video] [full story] [NASA Chat]

METEOR MAKES LANDFALL: A small asteroid that exploded over the San Francisco Bay Area on Oct. 17th, shaking houses with its sonic boom, might have scattered pieces of itself on the ground. That's the conclusion of Peter Jenniskens of the NASA Ames Research Center. He triangulated data from a pair of meteor surveillance cameras to determine the fireball's trajectory, denoted by the black arrow in the map below:

"The asteroid entered at a [relatively slow] speed of 14 km/s. There's a good chance that a fairly large fraction of this rock survived and fell somewhere around the North Bay," says Jenniskens. "Much more accurate results will follow from a comprehensive study of the video records. Now, we hope that someone recovers a meteorite on the ground."

In the map, red dots represent the surveillance cameras Jenniskens used to calculate the trajectory. The black arrow traces the asteroid's path; 85 km and 39 km are the altitudes of the asteroid at the two ends of the arrow. Jenniskens adds that "39 km is not the end point, but the final bit captured by the San Mateo video camera." The disintegrating asteroid continued beyond the tip of the arrow for a possible landfall somewhere north of San Francisco. Stay tuned for updates on the meteorite hunt.

GROUND AND SKY CURRENTS: For the second day in a row, a ~500 km/s solar wind speed is buffeting Earth's magnetic field, igniting auroras around the Arctic Circle. In Lofoten Norway on Oct. 17-18, the reverberating magnetic field induced electrical currents in the ground. "When we saw the currents on our monitors, we rushed outside to see the auroras," says Jan Koeman, who took this picture:

"It was a beautiful display," says Koeman. NOAA forecasters estimate a 10% to 15% chance of geomagnetic activity around the Arctic Circle tonight in response to the waning solar wind stream. However, based on Koeman's experience--"This was our sixth night in a row with clear skies and auroras," he says--the odds of a light show seem even higher. Arctic sky watchers should remain alert for auroras on Oct. 19th, especially during the hours around local midnight. Aurora alerts: text, voice.

Realtime Aurora Photo Gallery

SUN HALOS: As the northern hemisphere heads deeper into autumn, and ultimately winter, icy clouds become more commonplace. In other words, 'tis the season for sun halos. Charles Yeager photographed this specimen over Cleveland, Minnesota on Oct. 15th:

"This halo looked extremely large over the farm land of southern Minnesota," says Yeager.

In fact, it was 22 degrees in radius. That's how much hexagonal ice crystals in cirrus clouds bend the light of the sun overhead. Related crystals can also create sun pillars, sundogs, and a variety of other luminous halos. Look around the sun; you never know what you might see.

Realtime Space Weather Photo Gallery

Realtime Noctilucent Cloud Photo Gallery
[previous years: 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011]

  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 October 19, 2012 there were potentially hazardous asteroids.
Recent & Upcoming Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
2012 TQ146
Oct 16
3 LD
23 m
2012 UF
Oct 17
6.6 LD
24 m
2012 TE79
Oct 17
5.7 LD
20 m
1998 ST49
Oct 18
28.7 LD
1.3 km
2012 TD79
Oct 18
7.2 LD
59 m
2012 UE
Oct 19
2 LD
9 m
2012 TP231
Oct 22
5.8 LD
47 m
2012 US18
Oct 22
1.6 LD
8 m
1991 VE
Oct 26
34 LD
1.1 km
2012 UW9
Oct 29
9.4 LD
31 m
2001 CV26
Oct 30
68 LD
2.4 km
2007 PA8
Nov 5
16.8 LD
2.4 km
2010 JK1
Nov 25
9.3 LD
56 m
2009 LS
Nov 28
55.2 LD
1.1 km
2009 BS5
Dec 11
8.4 LD
15 m
4179 Toutatis
Dec 12
18 LD
2.7 km
2003 SD220
Dec 23
59.8 LD
1.8 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
Space Weather Alerts
  more links...
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