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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Solar wind
speed: 651.8 km/sec
density: 0.5 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2344 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: B7
1837 UT May01
24-hr: C1
0815 UT May01
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2300 UT
Daily Sun: 01 May 11
Departing sunspots 1195 and 1199 are crackling with low-level C-class solar flares. Credit: SDO/HMI
Sunspot number: 76
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 30 Apr 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 30 Apr 2011

The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 110 sfu
explanation | more data
Updated 30 Apr 2011

Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
Planetary K-index
Now: Kp= 3 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 4
explanation | more data
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 4.3 nT
Bz: 0.4 nT south
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2346 UT
Coronal Holes: 01 May 11
Earth is inside a solar wind stream flowing from the indicated coronal hole. Credit: SDO/AIA.
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2011 May 01 2200 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
10 %
01 %
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 01 2200 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
40 %
30 %
30 %
10 %
05 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
50 %
40 %
25 %
15 %
10 %
01 %
Sunday, May. 1, 2011
What's up in space

Metallic photos of the sun by renowned photographer Greg Piepol bring together the best of art and science. Buy one or a whole set. They make a stellar gift.

Metallic pictures of the Sun

SHUTTLE LAUNCH DELAYED AGAIN: Space shuttle Endeavour will not launch on Monday, May 2nd. Ongoing work to repair the problem with heaters on a fuel line for the shuttle's auxiliary power unit will not be finished in time. NASA plans to attempt a new launch "no earlier than May 8th." Stay tuned for updates.

WEEKEND AURORAS: It has been a good weekend for northern sky watchers. A solar wind stream hit Earth's magnetic field on Saturday, sparking two days of auroras around the Arctic Circle. In Alberta, Canada, this morning, the month of May began with a psychedelic sky:

"I have never seen such vibrant purples before," says photographer Zoltan Kenwell of White Court, Alberta. "Cloud cover made me miss a lot of the display, but what I did get --WOW! This was a full weekend!"

High-latitude sky watchers should remain alert for auroras. The solar wind continues to blow at high speed, and NOAA forecasters estimate a 50% chance of more geomagnetic activity during the next 24 hours. Aurora alerts: phone, text.

more images: from Shawn Malone of Marquette, Michigan; from Janusz Jakub Kuc of Co. Donegal, Ireland; from Olivier Du Tre of Cochrane, Alberta, Canada; from Zoltan Kenwell of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada; from Steve Milner of Ft St John, British Columbia, Canada; from Paul Klauninger of Ottawa, Ontario, Canada; from Yasser Maghsoudi of Chochrane, Alberta, Canada;

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

QUIET BEAUTY: New sunspot 1203 is not producing many flares, but it is photogenic anyway. Sebastien Kersten sends this snapshot from his backyard observatory in De Haan, Belgium:

"Incredible!" says Kersten, who took the picture using an H-alpha filter tuned to the red glow of solar hydrogen. "The sunspot had a strong 3D appearance when viewed through the eyepiece of my Coronado SM140 solar telescope."

The sunspot is dragging a pair of magnetic filaments behind it, each measuring about 50,000 km from core to tail. If the filaments criss-cross or become unstable and collapse, there might be a flare after all. Monitoring is encouraged.

more images: from Cai-Uso Wohler of Bispingen, Germany; from Matt Wastell of Brisbane, Australia; from Rogerio Marcon of Campinas SP Brasil

  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 1, 2011 there were 1218 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Recent & Upcoming Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
2011 GJ3
Apr 27
7.7 LD
25 m
2008 UC202
Apr 27
8.9 LD
10 m
2011 HJ
Apr 28
5.3 LD
27 m
2011 HP4
May 1
3.3 LD
14 m
2009 UK20
May 2
8.6 LD
23 m
2011 HD24
May 2
5.5 LD
36 m
2008 FU6
May 5
75.5 LD
1.2 km
2003 YT1
May 5
65.3 LD
2.5 km
2011 HC24
May 12
5.9 LD
63 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 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
  cloud server 2
  more links...
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