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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Solar wind
speed: 337.1 km/sec
density: 0.7 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2343 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: B1
2225 UT May12
24-hr: C2
1236 UT May12
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2300 UT
Daily Sun: 12 May 11
Sunspots on the Earthside of the sun pose little threat for strong flares. Credit: SDO/HMI
Sunspot number: 84
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 11 May 2011

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 0 days
2011 total: 1 day (<1%)
2010 total: 51 days (14%)
2009 total: 260 days (71%)
Since 2004: 820 days
Typical Solar Min: 486 days

Updated 11 May 2011

The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 94 sfu
explanation | more data
Updated 11 May 2011

Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
Planetary K-index
Now: Kp= 0 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 1
explanation | more data
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 3.9 nT
Bz: 1.1 nT north
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2345 UT
Coronal Holes: 12 May 11
A solar wind stream flowing from the indicated coronal hole should reach Earth on or about May 17. . Credit: SDO/AIA.
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2011 May 12 2200 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: 2011 May 12 2200 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
05 %
05 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
10 %
10 %
10 %
05 %
01 %
01 %
Thursday, May. 12, 2011
What's up in space

Turn your cell phone into a field-tested satellite tracker. Works for Android and iPhone.

Satellite flybys

AURORA WATCH: A coronal mass ejection launched from the sun's eastern limb on May 9th could deliver a glancing blow to Earth's magnetic field today. NOAA forecasters estimate a 40% chance of geomagnetic activity if and when the CME arrives. High-latitude sky watchers, be alert for auroras.

COMET AND CME: A comet dove into the sun on May 11th and seemed to trigger a massive eruption--emphasis on seemed. Watch the movie, then scroll down for further discussion.

A comet goes in; a CME comes out. Coincidence? Probably, yes, the sequence was coincidental. The comet disintegrated as much as a million kilometers above the stellar surface. There's no known way that the wispy, vaporous remains of a relatively lightweight comet could cause a billion-ton cloud of hot plasma to fly away from the sun at 400 km/s (the observed speed of the CME). Moreover, NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory photographed the eruption that did propel the CME into space. There's no comet in the field of view of this must-see movie.

Bonus: The bright comet pictured above had a dim companion. Can you find it?

MORNING PLANETS: The Great Morning Planet Show of May 2011 continued this morning three-way conjunction. "Jupiter, Venus and Mercury formed a compact triangle," reports Mariano Ribas of Argentina. "It was visually stunning in the morning twilight in Buenos Aires."

"When I was taking this picture, suddenly, a giant 'dinosaur' appeared in scene, trying to eat the planets," he adds. "They were a real mouthful."

Four planets are currently dancing around the dawn sky forming new shapes every morning. Look for them at the crack of dawn; and watch out for the dinosaur, too.

more images: from James W. Young of Mt Graham, Arizona; from Elizabeth Warner of Arlington, VA; from Dennis Simmons of Brisbane, Qld , Australia; from Mohammad Mehdi Asgari of Zanjan,Iran; from Geoffrey Wyatt of Sydney Harbour, Australia; from Malcolm Park of Algonquin Park, Ontario; from Alejandro Bergengruen of Pocitos, Montevideo, Uruguay; from Dr. Fritz Helmut Hemmerich of Teide vulcano, Tenerife, Canary Islands; from Simon Chan of Dalkeith, Western Australia

April 2011 Aurora Gallery
[previous Aprils: 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002]

  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 12, 2011 there were 1218 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Recent & Upcoming Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
2003 YT1
May 5
65.3 LD
2.5 km
2011 JV10
May 5
0.9 LD
5 m
2011 HC24
May 12
5.9 LD
58 m
2002 JC
Jun 1
57.5 LD
1.6 km
2009 BD
Jun 2
0.9 LD
10 m
2002 JB9
Jun 11
71.5 LD
3.2 km
2001 VH75
Jun 12
42.2 LD
1.1 km
2004 LO2
Jun 15
9.9 LD
48 m
2011 GA55
Jul 6
64.1 LD
1.0 km
2011 EZ78
Jul 10
37.3 LD
1.5 km
2003 YS117
Jul 14
73.9 LD
1.0 km
2007 DD
Jul 23
9.3 LD
31 m
2009 AV
Aug 22
49.7 LD
1.1 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
Conquest Graphics
  for out-of-this-world printing and graphics
Science Central
  more links...
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