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SpaceWeather.com -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
SPACE WEATHER
Current conditions
Solar wind
speed: 341.9 km/sec
density: 5.0 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2346 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A0
2340 UT Feb05
24-hr: A0
2340 UT Feb05
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2340 UT
Daily Sun: 05 Feb 09
The sun is blank--no sunspots. Credit: SOHO/MDI
Sunspot number: 0
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 05 Feb. 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= 0 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 4
unsettled
explanation | more data
Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
Credit: NOAA/POES
What is the auroral oval?
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 4.7 nT
Bz: 3.2 nT south
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2347 UT
Coronal Holes:
There are no large coronal holes on the Earth-facing side of the sun. Credit: SOHO Extreme UV Telescope
SPACE WEATHER
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2009 Feb 05 2201 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: 2009 Feb 05 2201 UTC
Mid-latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
ACTIVE
01 %
01 %
MINOR
01 %
01 %
SEVERE
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
ACTIVE
05 %
05 %
MINOR
01 %
01 %
SEVERE
01 %
01 %
What's up in Space
February 5, 2009

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

 

CLOSE ENCOUNTER: Comet Lulin is having a close encounter with Zubenelgenubi, a naked-eye double star in the constellation Libra. Zubenelgenubi is not only fun to say (zuBEN-el-JA-newbee), but also a handy guide to the comet. Point your binoculars at the star and voilĂ !--Lulin materializes in the field of view. The best time to look is just before dawn on Friday, Feb 6th: sky map.

images: from Jeff Greenwald of Laramie, Wyoming; from James Champagne of Ramah, Louisiana; from John Stetson of Portland, Maine; from Becky Ramotowski of Tijeras, New Mexico;

DISCONNECTED TAIL: On Feb. 4th, a team of Italian astronomers witnessed "an intriguing phenomenon in Comet Lulin's tail." Team leader Ernesto Guido explains: "We photographed the comet using a remotely-controlled telescope in New Mexico, and our images clearly showed a disconnection event. While we were looking, part of the comet's plasma tail was torn away."


Photo credit: Ernesto Guido, Giovanni Sostero & Paul Camilleri [more]

Guido and colleagues believe the event was caused by a magnetic disturbance in the solar wind hitting the comet. It's a plausible hypothesis. Magnetic mini-storms in comet tails have been observed before--most famously in 2007 when NASA's STEREO spacecraft watched a CME crash into Comet Encke. Encke lost its tail in dramatic fashion, much as Comet Lulin did yesterday.

Browse the gallery to view the comet's tail before, during and after the disconnection event:

UPDATED: Comet Lulin Photo Gallery
[Comet Hunter Telescope] [sky map] [ephemeris]

RUSSIAN AURORAS: Last night, the sun's magnetic field near Earth tipped south, opening a crack in Earth's magnetosphere and allowing solar wind to stream inside. Promptly, the skies over northern Russia turned green:

Aleksander Chernucho photographed the auroras from Mt. Khibiny in Russia's Kolyskia peninsula. "I used a Nikon D700 set to ISO 640 for this 6-second exposure," he says.

Another outbreak of Northern Lights is due on Feb. 13th or 14th when a solar wind stream flowing from a coronal hole is due to hit Earth. The coronal hole is not yet visible from Earth, but NASA's STEREO-B spacecraft can see it approaching over the sun's horizon. Stay tuned for updates.

February 2009 Aurora Gallery
[Previous Februaries: 2008, 2007, 2006, 2004, 2003, 2002]


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 February 5, 2009 there were 1022 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Feb. 2009 Earth-asteroid encounters:
Asteroid
Date(UT)
Miss Distance
Mag.
Size
2009 BK58
Feb. 2
1.7 LD
17
30 m
2009 BW2
Feb. 5
8.4 LD
20
40 m
2009 BE58
Feb. 10
8.6 LD
16
225 m
2006 AS2
Feb. 10
9.2 LD
15
370 m
2009 BL58
Feb. 11
4.8 LD
17
55 m
1999 AQ10
Feb. 18
4.4 LD
13
390 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.
STEREO
  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...
   
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