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SpaceWeather.com -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
 
Solar wind
speed: 397.0 km/sec
density: 2.4 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2344 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: B8
1815 UT Feb02
24-hr: B8
1815 UT Feb02
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2300 UT
Daily Sun: 02 Feb 12
All of the sunspots on the Earthside of the sun are quiet. Credit: SDO/HMI
Sunspot number: 85
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 01 Feb 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 01 Feb 2012


The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 118 sfu
explanation | more data
Updated 01 Feb 2012

Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
Credit: NOAA/POES
Planetary K-index
Now: Kp= 1 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 1
quiet
explanation | more data
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 6.2 nT
Bz: 3.2 nT south
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2346 UT
Coronal Holes: 02 Feb 12
Solar wind flowing from the indicated coronal hole could reach Earth on Feb. 3-4. Credit: SDO/AIA.
SPACE WEATHER
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2012 Feb 02 2200 UTC
FLARE
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
CLASS M
01 %
01 %
CLASS X
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 Feb 02 2200 UTC
Mid-latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
ACTIVE
15 %
10 %
MINOR
05 %
01 %
SEVERE
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
ACTIVE
20 %
10 %
MINOR
05 %
01 %
SEVERE
01 %
01 %
 
Thursday, Feb. 2, 2012
What's up in space
 

They came from outer space--and you can have one! Genuine meteorites are now on sale in the Space Weather Store.

 
Own your own meteorite

QUIET SUN: Solar activity is low. None of the sunspots on the Earthside of the sun is actively erupting. NOAA forecasters estimate no more than a 1% chance of M-class flares during the next 24 hours. Solar flare alerts: text, voice.

TEXAS FIREBALL: Last night, a spectacular fireball appeared in the skies of eastern Texas and Oklahoma. As is often the case for unexpected night-sky phenomena, few pictures are available. The best so far comes from a police dash-board camera in the small town of Little River-Academy, TX:

Eye-witness Daryn Morran reports: "At approximately 756pm CST, over Abilene, Texas, I saw an object falling from the sky much brighter and long-lasting than anything I've seen. [The fireball] lasted close to 8 secs before completely burning out. At first, it was bright white, and then started slowing down and getting brighter. Then it exploded like a firecracker artillery shell into several pieces, flickered a few more times and then slowly burned out... awesome!!!"

Another observer in Coppell, Texas, reported a "double boom heard at 8:00:30 CST. [The object appeared to be] 1/2 the size of the waxing moon, and broke into two major chucks with many smaller pieces. It had a 'white plasma' (sun-colored) look with a long golden tail." (This report was relayed by NWS meteorologist Joe Harrris in Frt Worth.)

According to Bill Cooke of NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office, this was probably a natural object--a small asteroid about the size of a car or bus--not a decaying satellite or other manmade space debris. The fireball, which disintegrated in the general vicinity of Dallas-Fort Worth, was bright enough to be seen on NASA cameras located in New Mexico more than 500 miles away. "It was about as bright as the full Moon (astronomical magnitude -13)," estimates Cooke, who is still analyzing data and sighting reports in hopes of calculating the object's orbit. He might yet figure out where the Texas fireball came from. Stay tuned for updates.

ASTROPHOTO-OP: Astrophotographers, ready your cameras. On Friday morning, February 3rd, Comet Garradd (C/2009 P1) will pass approximately 0.5 degrees from globular cluster M92 in Hercules. On Jan. 31st, Rolando Ligustri took this picture of the converging pair using a remotely-controlled 106mm telescope in New Mexico:

The ten minute exposure shows the comet's fan-shaped dust tail, which roughly traces the comet's orbit, and its pencil-thin gas tail, which points almost directly away from the sun due to the action of the solar wind.

The star cluster and the comet are both located in the constellation Hercules, high overhead in northern hemisphere skies before sunrise. Sky and Telescope offers a sky map of the comet's path. Observers with computerized GOTO telescopes can track the comet by plugging in orbital elements from the Minor Planet Center.

At the moment, Comet Garradd has an astronomical magnitude of +6.5, invisible to the naked eye but an easy target for backyard telescopes. Forecasters expect it to brighten by a factor of ~2 in the weeks ahead as the comet approaches Earth for a 1.3 AU close encounter in early March. This could be a good time to invest in a Comet Hunter.

more images: from Lorenzo Comolli of Bogli, Italy; from Gregg Ruppel of Ellisville, MO; from Mike Broussard of Maurice, Louisiana; from Dr Paolo Candy of Ci.A.O. Cimini Astronomical Observatory - Italy

BE ALERT FOR MOON HALOES: With the full Moon less than a week away, now is the time to be alert for Moon haloes. Last night in Moray, Scotland, amateur astronomer Alan C. Tough photographed this specimen:

"I intended to photograph the Moon beside the Pleiades, but the cold and cloudy conditions were better suited to capturing this spectacular halo," says Tough.

Moon halos are formed by ice crystals in high clouds, which catch moonbeams and bend them as shown. The brighter the Moon, the brighter the Moon halo, so any halos this week should be very bright indeed. The Moon is full on Feb. 7th. Browse the links below for more examples of what's in store.

more images: from Jim Henderson of Kincardine O'Neil, Scotland; from Eric Walker of Conon Bridge, Ross-shire, Scotland; from Tyler Piskor of Karnes City, Texas;


January 2012 Aurora Gallery
[previous Januaries: 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2005, 2004]


Comet Lovejoy Gallery
[previous comets: McNaught, Holmes, Lulin, Tuttle, Ikeya-Zhang]

  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 February 2, 2012 there were 1287 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Recent & Upcoming Earth-asteroid encounters:
Asteroid
Date(UT)
Miss Distance
Mag.
Size
2012 BA102
Jan 26
2.6 LD
--
22 m
2012 BX34
Jan 27
0.2 LD
--
13 m
2012 BD14
Jan 30
5.8 LD
--
20 m
433 Eros
Jan 31
69.5 LD
--
8.5 km
2009 AV
Feb 16
44.9 LD
--
1.2 km
2000 ET70
Feb 19
17.7 LD
--
1.0 km
2011 CP4
Feb 23
9.1 LD
--
255 m
2008 EJ85
Mar 6
9.1 LD
--
44 m
1999 RD32
Mar 14
57.9 LD
--
2.4 km
2011 YU62
Mar 16
73.3 LD
--
1.4 km
1996 SK
Apr 18
67.2 LD
--
1.6 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.
STEREO
  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
Heliophysics
  the underlying science of space weather
Science Central
Trade Show Displays
   
  more links...
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