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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Current conditions
Solar wind
speed: 460.2 km/sec
density: 9.8 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2246 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A7
1650 UT May22
24-hr: B3
1445 UT May22
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2245 UT
Daily Sun: 22 May 07
Sunspot 956 is decaying rapidly and poses no threat for strong solar flares. Credit: SOHO/MDI
Sunspot number: 15
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 21 May 2007
Far side of the Sun:
This holographic image revealsno large spots on the farside of the sun. Image credit: SOHO/MDI
Planetary K-index
Now: Kp=4
24-hr max: Kp=3
explanation | more data
Current Auroral Oval:
Europe, Antarctica, USA
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 7.5 nT
Bz: 1.3 nT north
explanation | more data
Updated:Today at 2246 UT
Coronal Holes:
A solar wind stream flowing from the indicated coronal hole should reach Earth on or about May 26th. Credit: STEREO-A Extreme Ultraviolet Imager
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2007 May 22 2203 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
05 %
05 %
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 22 2203 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
20 %
30 %
05 %
10 %
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
20 %
40 %
05 %
20 %
01 %
10 %
What's up in Space
May 22, 2007
He already has a neck tie. This year give Dad something truly heavenly for Father's Day: SpaceWeather PHONE.

LUNAR ECLIPSE OF SATURN: If you live in Europe or North Africa, you may be able to see a lunar eclipse of Saturn tonight. The event begins around 1930 UT on May 22 when the dark edge of the Moon covers Saturn's rings. Saturn emerges from eclipse about an hour later. Click here for a detailed time table, and ready your telescopes!

A WEEK OF MAGNETISM: One week ago, sunspot 956 was crackling with solar flares and emitting radio bursts so strong, they startled ham radio operators on Earth. Now the sunspot is quiet and fading fast. What happened? This movie provides the answer:

This is a solar magnetogram, or magnetic map of the sun, obtained by the SOHO spacecraft and animated to show the development of sunspot 956 between May 15th and May 22nd. At the beginning of the movie, we see a dense knot of magnetism (sunspot 956) where opposite polarities are gathered in close proximity. Active sunspots rely on such gatherings: Opposite polarities pressed tightly together explode via a process called reconnection, leading to flares and radio bursts. At the end of the movie we see the magnetic fields dispersing. This is the situation today, and explains why sunspot 956 is quieting.

BONUS: Even as it fades, sunspot 956 is still a beautiful sunspot, as shown in this picture taken a few hours ago by Jean-Marc Lecleire of Torcy, France.

WATER WORLDS: There's a lot of water in this photo. Can you find it?

Photo details: Canon 30D, 70 mm lens, 10 seconds exposure.

Answer: It's in the clouds. The glowing blue and straw-colored "aureoles" around the Moon are caused by water droplets scattering moonlight in the clouds. Photographer Laurent Laveder took the picture on May 19th from Trégastel beach in France. "The clouds added a nice 'atmosphere' to the scene," he says.

Incidentally, the two worlds behind the clouds--the Moon and Venus--are among the driest places in the solar system. The Moon is dry because its surface temperature soars to 123°C at lunar noon; any water struggling to stick to the moondust quickly evaporates and drifts into space. The situation is even worse on Venus where the temperature reaches 480°C. Not even Venus' super-dense atmosphere is able to hold onto water under those hellish conditions. "Fortunately for us," says Laveder, "we have Trégastel beach."

more images: from Laurent Laveder at Trégastel beach in France; from Frank Ryan Jr of Alvor Harbour, Portugal; from Jacob Kuiper of Steenwijk, The Netherlands; from Julio Vannini of Granada, Nicaragua; from Gary Colwell of Ardoch, Ontario; from Kevin LeGore at the Challenger Space Center in Peoria, Arizona; from Doug Zubenel of De Soto, Kansas; from Günther Strauch of Borken, Germany; from JP Hackman of Rexburg, Idaho.

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 22, 2007 there were 862 potentially hazardous asteroids.
May 2007 Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
1862 Apollo
May 8
72 LD
2.4 km
2007 JD
May 11
12 LD
100 m
2007 JZ2
May 14
7.0 LD
30 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 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.
Daily Sunspot Summaries
  From the NOAA Space Environment Center
Current Solar Images
  from the National Solar Data Analysis Center
  more links...
©2007, -- This site is penned daily by Dr. Tony Phillips.
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