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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Current conditions
Solar wind
speed: 388.2 km/sec
density: 4.2 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2345 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A3
1805 UT Feb04
24-hr: A3
0025 UT Feb04
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2340 UT
Daily Sun: 03 Feb. 10
Sunspot 1043 is a member of new Solar Cycle 24. Image credit: SOHO/MDI
Sunspot number: 11
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 03 Feb 2010

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 0 days
2010 total: 2 days (6%)
2009 total: 260 days (71%)
Since 2004: 772 days
Typical Solar Min: 485 days
explanation | more info
Updated 03 Feb 2010

The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 74 sfu
explanation | more data
Updated 03 Feb 2010

Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
Planetary K-index
Now: Kp= 1 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 2
explanation | more data
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 3.4 nT
Bz: 0.0 nT
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2346 UT
Coronal Holes:
A solar wind stream flowing from the indicated coronal hole should reach Earth on or about Feb. 10th. Credit: SOHO Extreme UV Telescope
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2010 Feb 04 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 Feb 04 2201 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
05 %
20 %
01 %
10 %
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
05 %
25 %
01 %
15 %
01 %
01 %
What's up in Space
February 4, 2010

SATELLITE FLYBYS APP: Turn your iPhone or iPod into a field-tested satellite tracker! presents the Satellite Flybys app.


SOLAR DYNAMICS OBSERVATORY: The most advanced solar observatory ever built is set to launch from Cape Canaveral on Feb. 9th. The liftoff of SDO (Solar Dynamics Observatory) is such a big event, the staff of is traveling to Florida to report on it. Until then, watch this movie about SDO courtesy of NASA.

MOLASSES-COLORED PLUTO: Pluto is so far away, even the Hubble Space Telescope can't make out the details of the dwarf planet. Nevertheless, recent images are mesmerizing researchers. Today, NASA released the most detailed view to date of the entire surface of Pluto constructed from multiple Hubble photographs taken from 2002 to 2003:

The data reveal an icy, mottled, dark molasses-colored world with a surprising amount of activity. Comparing Hubble images taken in 1994 vs. 2003, researchers see that Pluto's northern hemisphere has brightened while the southern hemisphere has dimmed. Furthermore, ground-based observations suggest that Pluto's atmosphere doubled in mass during approximately the same time period. These results show that Pluto is not just a frozen ball of rock and ice, but a lively world with much to study.

Researchers say the Hubble images, fuzzy though they may be, are invaluable for planning a flyby of Pluto by the New Horizons probe in 2015. New Horizons is en route to Pluto now and it will reveal the dwarf planet's features in exquisite detail from close range. Stay tuned for that, and meanwhile read today's press release from NASA.

NIGHT LIGHTS: Hundreds of years ago, the brightest things on the night side of Earth were Northern Lights. After nightfall, the continents went dark while polar regions lit up with solar wind-powered auroras. How times have changed. Consider the following satellite imagery of Europe and parts of North America on Feb. 3rd:

"This is a composite of nighttime images from the DMSP-18 military weather satellite," says Paul McCrone, who processed the data at the US Navy's Fleet Numerical Meteorology and Oceanography Center (FNMOC) in Monterey, California.

The auroras are still there--"note the luminous arcs over northern Canada and Scandinavia," McCrone points out--but now they have competition in the form of city lights. Indeed, the balance of power seems to have shifted sharply from Birkeland to Edison.

The balance could be restored, temporarily at least, on Feb. 10th when a solar wind stream is due to hit Earth. The impact will energize the arctic lights, boosting their luminosity for a nice show at high latitudes. Browse the gallery for a preview:

February Northern Lights Gallery
[previous Februarys: 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 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 February 4, 2010 there were 1094 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Jan. 2010 Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
2010 AL2
Jan. 11
11.5 LD
23 m
24761 Ahau
Jan. 11
70.8 LD
1.4 km
2000 YH66
Jan. 12
69.5 LD
1.1 km
2010 AL30
Jan. 13
0.3 LD
18 m
2010 AG3
Jan. 19
8.9 LD
14 m
2010 AN61
Jan. 19
8.0 LD
17 m
2010 AF40
Jan. 21
2.3 LD
43 m
2010 BC
Jan. 24
7.6 LD
160 m
2010 BU2
Jan. 27
6.4 LD
52 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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