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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Solar wind
speed: 319.5 km/sec
density: 0.6 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2344 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: B5
2125 UT Nov03
24-hr: C4
1220 UT Nov03
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2340 UT
Daily Sun: 03 Nov 10
Sunspot 1120 is rapidly fading. Credit: SDO/HMI. 2-day movie: 8 MB mpg
Sunspot number: 17
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 02 Nov 2010

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 0 days
2010 total: 45 days (15%)
2009 total: 260 days (71%)
Since 2004: 813 days
Typical Solar Min: 486 days

Updated 02 Nov 2010

The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 79 sfu
explanation | more data
Updated 02 Nov 2010

Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
Planetary K-index
Now: Kp= 1 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 1
explanation | more data
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 4.4 nT
Bz: 0.2 nT south
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2345 UT
Coronal Holes: 03 Nov 10
There are no large coronal holes on the Earth-facing side of the sun. Credit: SDO/AIA.
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2010 Nov 03 2200 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
15 %
15 %
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 Nov 03 2200 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
15 %
10 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
15 %
10 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
Wednesday, Nov. 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


DISCOVERY DELAYED: The launch of space shuttle Discovery has been delayed until Thursday, Nov. 4th while engineers look into electrical problems with a main engine computer controller. One of the astronauts doesn't mind waiting: R2, short for Robonaut 2, is a humanoid robot who is traveling onboard Discovery to the International Space Station, where he will become a permanent member of the station's crew. With dexterous fingers, strong arms, and camera eyes, R2 can potentially perform tasks ranging from simple housekeeping to setting up delicate science experiments. Best of all, he has plenty of patience. Stay tuned for launch updates from

FARSIDE FLARE: An active region just over the sun's eastern horizon is crackling with solar flares and hurling material high above the stellar surface. This extreme ultraviolet movie from NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory shows the strongest blast so far, a C4-class event at 1220 UT on Nov. 3rd:

movie formats: 3.8 MB mpeg, 0.9 MB iPad, 0.3 MB iPhone

Although the blast site is hidden behind the limb, the eruption nevertheless yielded enough x-radiation to produce a wave of ionization in Earth's upper atmosphere. Researcher Rob Stammes recorded a sudden ionospheric disturbance (SID) when the wave passed over his lab in Laukvik, Norway. Learn more about SIDs here.

The source of this activity is an old friend--a sunspot and magnetic filament jointly known as "active region 1112." The ensemble put on a good show in mid-October when it first crossed the face of the sun. For the past two weeks, however, it has been transiting the far side, out of sight. Today's eruption may be read as "hello, I'm back." The sun's rotation is bringing the region around for a second pass; readers with solar telescopes are encouraged to monitor the eastern limb for its emergence in the days ahead.

FIRST AURORAS OF NOVEMBER: October 2010 produced some of the finest auroras in years around the Arctic Circle--a sign that the sun is waking up for a new solar cycle. Will November 2010 be even better? The month got off to a good start last night in Kvaløya, Norway:

"The auroras were fantastic," says photographer Fredrik Broms. "Our day began quietly, rather warm with some newly-fallen snow, and then we got a solar storm. Weather changes quickly!"

The display was sparked by a fluctuation in the solar wind. Magnetic fields inside the solar wind tipped south and partially canceled the magnetic field of our own planet. This opened a hole in Earth's magnetosphere. Solar wind poured in and ignited the auroras.

Bonus: "I could also see Comet Hartley 2 through ordinary 8x42 binoculars," says Broms. "Here it is in a wide-angle shot of the auroras." NASA's Deep Impact/EPOXI probe will get a closer look on Nov. 4th when it flies only 435 miles from the comet's surprising core. Stay tuned.

October 2010 Aurora Gallery
[previous Octobers: 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001]

  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 November 3, 2010 there were 1157 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Recent & Upcoming Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
2010 TQ19
Oct 8
9.6 LD
37 m
2010 TS19
Oct 10
3.7 LD
31 m
2010 TD54
Oct 12
0.1 LD
7 m
2010 TB54
Oct 13
6.1 LD
19 m
1999 VO6
Oct 14
34.3 LD
1.8 km
2010 TK
Oct 16
4.5 LD
37 m
1998 TU3
Oct 17
69.1 LD
5.2 km
2010 TG19
Oct 22
1.1 LD
70 m
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
2008 EA32
Jan 7
76.5 LD
2.1 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
Science Central
  more links...
2010 Perseid meteor shower
Fine astrophotography and gift cards by Alan Friedman
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