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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Current conditions
Solar wind
speed: 322.2 km/sec
density: 0.8 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2343 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A8
2235 UT Jan05
24-hr: B1
0850 UT Jan05
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2340 UT
Daily Sun: 05 Jan. 10
New-cycle sunspot 1039 is disappearing over the sun's western limb. Image credit: SOHO/MDI
Sunspot number: 15
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 04 Jan 2010

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 0 days
2010 total: 0 days (0%)
2009 total: 260 days (71%)
Since 2004: 771 days
Typical Solar Min: 485 days
explanation | more info
Updated 04 Jan 2010

The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 73 sfu
explanation | more data
Updated 04 Jan 2010

Far side of the Sun:
This holographic image reveals one or more possible sunspots on the far side of the sun. Image credit: SOHO/MDI
Planetary K-index
Now: Kp= 0 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 1
explanation | more data
Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 5.7 nT
Bz: 3.2 nT south
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2346 UT
Coronal Holes:
There are no large coronal holes in the Earth-facing side of the sun. Credit: SOHO Extreme UV Telescope
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2010 Jan 05 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 Jan 05 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
January 5, 2010

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


KEPLER'S NEW EXOPLANETS: NASA's Kepler space telescope, designed to find Earth-like planets around distant stars, has found its first five exoplanets. Get the full story from Science@NASA.

SATELLITE FLARE: Europe's Gravity field and steady-state Ocean Circulation Explorer ("GOCE" for short) is an extraordinary spacecraft. It circles the planet at a perilously low altitude using fins to cut through the wisps of Earth's outermost atmosphere. GOCE's sophisticated ion engine constantly adjusts its thrust between 1 and 20 millinewtons (mN) to counteract even the slightest hint of atmospheric drag. Such perfection is necessary to make the finest-ever maps of Earth's gravitational field.

All that--and it's fun to look at, too. On Jan. 3rd, Marco Langbroek watched the satellite pass over his backyard observatory in the Netherlands. "It flared almost like a meteor," he says.

"This was latest of several flares by GOCE I have observed. It passed almost directly overhead, zipping close to M31 (the Andromeda galaxy) at magnitude +4 to +5, and then flaring briefly to mag. +2 (about as bright as stars in the Big Dipper). It was nice to watch."

"GOCE is in a very low orbit and moves very fast, so the flares resemble meteors," he adds. "In fact, they are caused by sunlight glinting from the spacecraft's solar panels."

Ready to see one of the coolest satellites in Earth orbit? Check the Simple Satellite Tracker for GOCE flybys.

EASY COME, EASY GO: Sunspot 1039 is about to disappear over the sun's western limb, but the sun won't remain blank for long. Another active region is approaching from the east, shown here in a Jan. 5th image from the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory:

The approaching region is old sunspot 1035. It has been transiting the far side of the sun since Dec. 20th. After all this time, is it still a dark-cored behemoth or just a decaying tangle of magnetic fields? Monitoring is encouraged: solar telescopes.

December Northern Lights Gallery
[previous Decembers: 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2001, 2000]

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 January 5, 2010 there were 1091 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Jan. 2010 Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
24761 Ahau
Jan. 11
70.8 LD
1.4 km
2000 YH66
Jan. 12
69.5 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 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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