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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Current conditions
Solar wind
speed: 336.2 km/sec
density: 4.6 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2346 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A0
2335 UT May05
24-hr: A0
2335 UT May05
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2340 UT
Daily Sun: 03 May 09
The sun is blank--no sunspots. Credit: SOHO/MDI
Sunspot number: 0
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 03 May 2009

NEW: Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 3 days
2009 total: 105 days (85%)
Since 2004: 616 days
Typical Solar Min: 485 days
explanation | more info
Updated 03 May 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= 2
explanation | more data
Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
What is the auroral oval?
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 2.1 nT
Bz: 1.5 nT south
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2347 UT
Coronal Holes:
A solar wind stream flowing from the indicated coronal hole should reach Earth on or about May 7th. Credit: Hinode X-ray Telescope
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2009 May 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: 2009 May 05 2201 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
25 %
15 %
05 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
40 %
25 %
15 %
10 %
05 %
01 %
What's up in Space
May 5, 2009

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


SOUTHERN METEOR SHOWER: Earth is entering a stream of dusty debris from Halley's Comet, the source of the annual eta Aquarid meteor shower. Forecasters expect the shower to peak on Wednesday morning, May 6th, with as many as 85 meteors per hour over the southern hemisphere. Rates in the northern hemisphere will be less, 20 to 30 per hour. The best time to look is during the dark moonless hour before local sunrise. [details and sky maps]

THE SUN IS STIRRING: The face of the sun is blank--no sunspots--but this could soon change. NASA's STEREO-B spacecraft is monitoring a new active region hidden behind the sun's eastern limb. Earlier today, it produced an impressive coronal mass ejection (CME, movie) and a strong Type II radio burst. This image from STEREO's extreme UV telescope shows the region just after the explosion:

At the root of all this activity is probably a large sunspot. Its high latitude identifies it as a member of new Solar Cycle 24. The putative sunspot is not yet visible from Earth, but the sun is turning the region toward us for a better view. Readers with solar telescopes should keep an eye on sun's northeastern limb for a possible emergence on May 7th or 8th.

MASSIVE BUG INVADES JUPITER: Astrophotographer Mike Salway of Central Coast, Australia, has witnessed a shocking event on our solar system's largest planet. "I was imaging Jupiter on the morning of May 2nd," he says. "You can imagine my surprise when a massive bug at least 3 times the size of the Earth invaded Jupiter! Watch the video to see the attack unfold."

Click to play: avi (0.4 MB) or gif (4 MB)

"Things were looking grim for the Jovians as the creature traversed the gas giant, consuming white spots and feeding on power generated by Jupiter's criss-crossing jet streams," recounts Salway. "Did the bug wipe out Jupiter, or did the Jovians repel the 6-legged invader?" A follow-up photo taken an hour later revealed Jupiter still intact. "It turns out the invader was just an insect on the mirror of my 12-inch Newtonian telescope."

(Entomologists, can you identify the species from its silhouette? Clue: It lives in a telescope. Answers welcomed.)

April 2009 Aurora Gallery
[previous Aprils: 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002]

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 May 5, 2009 there were 1054 potentially hazardous asteroids.
May 2009 Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
2009 JA
May 4
7.5 LD
37 m
2006 FG3
May 6
60.7 LD
1.1 km
2001 SG286
May 17
11.5 LD
280 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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