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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Solar wind
speed: 282.1 km/sec
density: 0.1 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2340 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: B1
2145 UT Oct03
24-hr: B2
0435 UT Oct03
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2340 UT
Daily Sun: 03 Oct 10
Sunspot 1111 is growing again, but it does not yet pose a threat for strong flares. Credit: SDO/HMI. 2-day movies: visible (7.5 MB) or magnetic (24 MB).
Sunspot number: 42
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 02 Oct 2010

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 0 days
2010 total: 41 days (15%)
2009 total: 260 days (71%)
Since 2004: 809 days
Typical Solar Min: 486 days
explanation | more info
Updated 02 Oct 2010

The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 85 sfu
explanation | more data
Updated 02 Oct 2010

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: 3.1 nT
Bz: 1.4 nT north
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2346 UT
Coronal Holes: 03 Oct 10
There are no large coronal holes on the Earth-facing side of the sun. Credit: SDO/AIA. 2-day movie: 16 MB mpg
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2010 Oct 03 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: 2010 Oct 03 2201 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
10 %
20 %
01 %
05 %
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
10 %
20 %
01 %
10 %
01 %
05 %
Sunday, Oct. 3, 2010
What's up in space

AURORA ALERTS: Did you miss the Northern Lights? Next time get a wake-up call from Space Weather PHONE


COMET HARTLEY 2 UPDATE: Is Comet Hartley 2 sprouting a tail? A series of five-minute integrations taken last night by Gregg Ruppel of Ellisville, Missouri, seems to show a growing elongation of the comet's atmosphere: images.

APPROACHING COMET: Green comet 103P/Hartley 2 is approaching Earth for a close encounter on Oct. 20th. At that time, the comet will be only 11 million miles from Earth and should be dimly visible to the naked eye from dark sky sites. It already looks great through backyard telescopes:

Amateur astronomer Rolando Ligustri took this picture on Oct. 2nd using a 14-inch Global Rent-a-Scope in New Mexico. It shows Comet Hartley beside the spectacular Pacman Nebula (NGC 281), a star-forming cloud some ten thousand light years from Earth. "This is a very nice comet for telescopes and binoculars," says Martin Gembec who took a similar picture from his backyard observatory in the Czech Republic last night. "It has a [green atmosphere] almost 0.5 degrees wide and shines like a 7th magnitude star."

Two weeks after Comet Hartley has its close encounter with Earth, NASA will have a close encounter with the comet. The EPOXI spacecraft (formerly known as Deep Impact) is hurtling toward Comet Hartley now, and on Nov. 4th it will fly 435 miles from the comet's active icy nucleus. The encounter will mark only the fifth time in history that a spacecraft has been close enough to image a comet's core.

Until then, amateur astronomers can monitor the comet as it glides through the constellation Cassiopeia in the evening sky. A finder chart from Sky and Telescope shows the comet passing by a variety of stars and deep-sky objects, offering many photo-ops in the nights ahead.

more images: from Mike Holloway of Van Buren, Arkansas; from Mike Broussard of Maurice, Louisiana; from Dale Ireland of Silverdale, Washington; from Kevin Black of Winnipeg, Manitoba Canada; from Alan Dyer of near Cluny, Alberta, Canada; from Tamás Ábrahám of Zsámbék, Hungary

MUST-SEE PLANET: Jupiter's super-close encounter with Earth ended two weeks ago, right? Not so fast: The show is still going on. Jupiter is receding from Earth so slowly, the planet is practically as big and bright as it was on Sept. 20th. Russell Horn sends this picture taken just a few nights ago from the Comanche Springs Astronomy Campus in Texas:

"The view through my 8-inch refractor was stunning," says Horn. "The volcanic moon Io looked like a golden BB as it transited the colorful disk of Jupiter."

In Horn's image, Io's shadow is falling on a wide expanse of white clouds. This is where Jupiter's brown South Equatorial Belt (SEB) used to be--until it mysteriously disappeared earlier this year. Researchers think the great belt might simply be hiding, submerged beneath high-altitude cirrus clouds. If so, the SEB could pop up again at any time. The dramatic resurgence would be accompanied by a globe-straddling profusion of spots and cloudy swirls, clearly visible in backyard telescopes. Who will be the first to see it? Train your optics on that bright star high in the midnight sky; it could be you.

Sept. 2010 Northern Lights Gallery
[previous Septembers: 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004, 2002, 2001, 2000]

  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 October 3, 2010 there were 1147 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Recent & Upcoming Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
2009 SH2
Sep 30
7.1 LD
45 m
2010 SK13
Sep 30
0.7 LD
15 m
1998 UO1
Oct 1
32.1 LD
2.1 km
2005 GE59
Oct 1
77 LD
1.1 km
1999 VO6
Oct 14
34.3 LD
1.8 km
2010 TK
Oct 17
4.5 LD
38 m
1998 TU3
Oct 17
69.1 LD
5.2 km
1998 MQ
Oct 23
77.7 LD
1.9 km
2007 RU17
Oct 29
39.2 LD
1.1 km
2003 UV11
Oct 30
5 LD
595 m
3838 Epona
Nov 7
76.8 LD
3.4 km
2005 QY151
Nov 16
77.7 LD
1.3 km
2008 KT
Nov 23
5.6 LD
10 m
2002 EZ16
Nov 30
73.9 LD
1.0 km
2000 JH5
Dec 7
47 LD
1.5 km
2010 JL33
Dec 9
16.6 LD
1.3 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
Current Solar Images
  from the National Solar Data Analysis Center
Science Central
  more links...
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