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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Current conditions
Solar wind
speed: 374.5 km/sec
density: 0.8 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2306 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A0
2340 UT Jul02
24-hr: A0
2340 UT Jul02
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2340 UT
Daily Sun: 02 July 09
The sun is blank, no sunspots. Credit: SOHO/MDI
Sunspot number: 0
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 01 July 2009

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 7 days
2009 total: 141 days (77%)
Since 2004: 652 days
Typical Solar Min: 485 days
explanation | more info
Updated 01 July 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= 1 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 1
explanation | more data
Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 2.5 nT
Bz: 0.5 nT north
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
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2009 Jul 02 2201 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
01 %
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: 2009 Jul 02 2201 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
05 %
05 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
05 %
05 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
What's up in Space
July 2, 2009

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


MOONSHIP PHOTOGRAPHED: NASA's LCROSS spacecraft was 480,000 km from Earth on Monday, June 29th, when Paul Mortfield of Sierra Remote Observatories in California photographed it passing by galaxy IC3808: movie. "Amateur astronomers with mid-sized telescopes should be able to capture LCROSS during its cruising orbits over the next several months before it hits the Moon," he says. "To find it, go to the JPL ephemeris generator and enter 'LCROSS' as the target body."

VOLCANIC SUNSETS: The plume of volcanic dust and sulfur dioxide that has caused so many pretty sunsets over the USA this week has crossed the Atlantic and reached Europe. "The purple color of the sky on June 30th was unbelievable," says Rafael Gallego, who sends this picture from Carrión de los Céspedes, Spain:

Similar reports are pouring in from France, England, Denmark, the Netherlands, Canada and many US states. Here's what to look for: When the sun goes down, delicate ripples of white appear over the western horizon. Then, as the twilight deepens, the sky turns a lovely shade of "volcanic lavender."

The source of the phenomenon is Russia's Sarychev Peak volcano. It erupted on June 12th, hurling massive plumes of sulfur dioxide (SO2) and other debris into the stratosphere. The white ripples that herald these sunsets are made of volcanic aerosols--a mixture of ash and sulfur compounds. Blue light scattered by fine volcanic aerosols combines with ordinary red sunset rays to produce the telltale lavender.

Earth-orbiting satellites are monitoring Sarychev's sulfur dioxide plume as it circumnavigates the globe at high latitudes, spreading the phenomenon from Russia to the USA to Europe and back again. All northern sky watchers should be alert for volcanic sunsets.

UPDATED: 2009 Sarychev Sunset Gallery
[See also: 2008 Kasatochi Sunset Photo Gallery]

ART OR SCIENCE? Researchers at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in Boulder, Colorado, have created an unprecedented 3D supercomputer model of a sunspot. The result is not only scientificially informative, but also a thing of beauty:

To create the virtual sunspot, researchers programmed NCAR's IBM bluefire supercomputer with the laws of magnetohydrodynamics, sprinkled in some ground-based observations of actual sunspots, and hit "go." The bluefire is capable of 76 trillion calculations per second; even so, the program took weeks to complete. The final model contains 1.8 billion points and covers a 3D domain 31,000 miles by 62,000 miles wide and 3,700 miles deep.

Physcists are now studying movies of the virtual sunspot to develop new insights into the dynamic behavior of these planet-sized behemoths. More than one onlooker has gasped in amazement when shown the surprisely lovely subsurface structure of the 'spot.

Is it art or science? You decide.

2009 Noctilucent Photo Gallery
[previous years: 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004, 2003]

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 July 2, 2009 there were 1065 potentially hazardous asteroids.
July 2009 Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
2009 MM8
July 13
11.4 LD
53 m
2008 NP3
July 18
11.8 LD
87 m
2006 TU7
July 20
14.2 LD
175 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.
  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...
©2008, -- This site is penned daily by Dr. Tony Phillips.
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