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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Solar wind
speed: 393.6 km/sec
density: 0.5 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2345 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: B4
1800 UT Sep21
24-hr: C1
0755 UT Sep21
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2340 UT
Daily Sun: 21 Sept 10
A new sunspot (possibly old sunspot 1105) is emerging at the circled location. Credit: SDO/HMI. Resolutions: 4096, 1024, 512
Sunspot number: 38
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 20 Sep 2010

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 0 days
2010 total: 41 days (16%)
2009 total: 260 days (71%)
Since 2004: 809 days
Typical Solar Min: 486 days
explanation | more info
Updated 20 Sep 2010

The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 83 sfu
explanation | more data
Updated 20 Sep 2010

Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
Planetary K-index
Now: Kp= 2 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 2
explanation | more data
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 3.5 nT
Bz: 0.3 nT south
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2346 UT
Coronal Holes: 21 Sept 10
A solar wind stream flowing from the indicated coronal hole should reach Earth around Sept. 22nd. Credit: SDO/AIA
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2010 Sep 21 2201 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: 2010 Sep 21 2201 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
35 %
35 %
05 %
05 %
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
35 %
35 %
10 %
10 %
01 %
01 %
Tuesday, Sep. 21, 2010
What's up in space

AURORA ALERTS: Did you miss the Northern Lights? Next time get a wake-up call from Space Weather PHONE


SPYSAT LAUNCH: Last night around 9:06 pm PDT, sky watchers across much of southern California witnessed a rocket streaking across the western sky. It was an Atlas V launched from Vandebergh AFB carrying a top-secret reconnaissance satellite, the NROL-41. Speculation on the nature of the mission ranges from conventional signals intelligence to the demonstration of new technologies for a whole new generation of spysats. Launch photos: #1, #2, #3.

FAILURE TO LAUNCH: Sept. 21st began with a eruption on the sun's northeastern limb that ... couldn't ... quite ... lift off. NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory recorded the action:

One-hour time lapse movies: mpeg, avi, iPad, iPhone, hi-res still frame

The one-hour blast produced neither a bright flash of electromagnetic radiation (a "solar flare") nor a substantial coronal mass ejection (CME). It just bounced up and down above the stellar surface. More potent events may be just around the corner. A magnetic active region crackling with B- and C-class solar flares is about to emerge over the northeastern limb. Indeed, this event probably came from its leading edge. Stay tuned for solar activity.

CLOSE ENCOUNTER WITH JUPITER: Last night, Earth and Jupiter converged for their closest encounter until 2022. The giant planet soared overhead at midnight, shining like a super-bright star second only to the Moon in luminosity. Jupiter was as much as 75 million km closer than other Earth-Jupiter encounters of decades past.

"I couldn't resist aiming my laser at Jupiter, knowing that it had to travel 75 million km less than usual to reach the planet," says Pete Glastonbury who sends this picture from Devizes, Wiltshire, UK:

Astronomers who aimed their telescopes instead got an eyeful of alien moons, swirling storms and cloud belts. "What a night," he says.

Did you miss the show? Don't worry, it's not over. Jupiter will remain at about the same distance from Earth for weeks to come. Be sure to look on the night of Sept. 22nd when Jupiter and the full Moon will be in conjunction, the two brightest objects in the night sky less than 10o apart. Reminder calls are available from SpaceWeather PHONE.

more images: from Niloofar Khavari of Dehkade, Karaj, Iran; from Sadegh Ghomizadeh of Iran, Tehran; from Rylee Isitt of Prince George, British Columbia, Canada; from Glenn Jolly of Gilbert, Arizona; from Aymen Ibrahem of Bibliotheca Alexandrina, Alexandria, Egypt; from Alan Friedman at the Mt. Wilson Observatory in California; from Pete Lawrence of Selsey, West Sussex, UK; from Jin Lu of Tempe, Arizona;

Sept. 2010 Northern Lights Gallery
[previous Septembers: 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004, 2002, 2001, 2000]

  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 September 21, 2010 there were 1145 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Recent & Upcoming Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
2010 RF12
Sep 8
0.2 LD
9 m
2010 RJ53
Sep 9
8 LD
69 m
2010 RS80
Sep 9
2.2 LD
23 m
2010 RM82
Sep 10
2.2 LD
31 m
2009 SH2
Sep 30
7.1 LD
45 m
1998 UO1
Oct 1
32.1 LD
2.1 km
2005 GE59
Oct 1
77 LD
1.1 km
2001 WN5
Oct 10
41.8 LD
1.0 km
1999 VO6
Oct 14
34.3 LD
1.8 km
1998 TU3
Oct 17
69.1 LD
5.3 km
1998 MQ
Oct 23
77.7 LD
1.9 km
2007 RU17
Oct 29
40.6 LD
1.0 km
2003 UV11
Oct 30
5 LD
595 m
3838 Epona
Nov 7
76.8 LD
3.4 km
2005 QY151
Nov 16
77.7 LD
1.3 km
2008 KT
Nov 23
5.6 LD
10 m
2002 EZ16
Nov 30
73.9 LD
1.0 km
2000 JH5
Dec 7
47 LD
1.5 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
Current Solar Images
  from the National Solar Data Analysis Center
Science Central
  more links...
2010 Perseid meteor shower
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