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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Solar wind
speed: 458.9 km/sec
density: 14.5 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2343 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A9
1927 UT Jan06
24-hr: B1
0000 UT Jan06
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2300 UT
Daily Sun: 06 Jan 11
All three visible sunspot groups are quiet, producing only low-level B-class flares. Credit: SDO/HMI
Sunspot number: 50
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 05 Jan 2011

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 0 days
2011 total: 0 days (0%)
2010 total: 51 days (14%)
2009 total: 260 days (71%)
Since 2004: 819 days
Typical Solar Min: 486 days

Updated 05 Jan 2011

The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 88 sfu
explanation | more data
Updated 05 Jan 2011

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: 12.7 nT
Bz: 2.7 nT north
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2346 UT
Coronal Holes: 06 Jan 10
A solar wind stream flowing from the indicated coronal hole should reach Earth around Jan. 7th. Credit: SDO/AIA.
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2011 Jan 06 2200 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: 2011 Jan 06 2200 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
15 %
20 %
01 %
10 %
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
20 %
30 %
05 %
15 %
01 %
01 %
Thursday, Jan. 6, 2011
What's up in space

Metallic photos of the sun by renowned photographer Greg Piepol bring together the best of art and science. Buy one or a whole set. They make a stellar gift.

Metallic pictures of the Sun

AURORA WATCH: NOAA forecasters estimate a 20%-25% chance of geomagnetic storms on Jan. 7-8 when a solar wind stream is expected to hit Earth's magnetic field. High-latitude sky watchers should be alert for auroras.

EXPLODING COMET FRAGMENTS: According to counts from around the world, the Quadrantid meteor shower peaked during the early hours of Jan. 4th with nearly 100 shooting stars per hour. The source of the Quadrantids is shattered comet 2003 EH1. During the peak, Mike Hankey watched a fragment explode just above his home in Freeland, Maryland:

"Here's a video of a Quadrantid fireball and the smoke trail it left behind," says Hankey. "It took 10 minutes for the trail to dissipate." The fireball itself produced a magnitude -9 flash, about ten times brighter than Venus.

Observers say most Quadrantids were faint, but the shower was spiced by occasional fireballs such as the one Hankey recorded. Browse the gallery for more exploding fragments:

NEW: 2011 Quadrantid Meteor Gallery
[international meteor counts] [meteor text alerts]

LUNAR SILHOUETTE: Seeing an all-black New Moon is tricky business. On Tuesday morning, Peter Rosén of Stockholm, Sweden, did it with a little help from the sun:

"I combined 3 pictures of Jan. 4th partial solar eclipse to create a portrait of the transiting moon," explains Rosén. "Not much is missing. The middle picture shows the eclipse at 85%, just a little less than the theoretical maximum of 86% visible to the north of Sweden."

Another composite photo by Rosén shows the big wide world around the eclipse. "It was a beautiful morning in Stockholm," he says. Stay tuned for more images as gallery updates continue.

Solar Eclipse Photo Gallery

December 2010 Aurora Gallery
[2010 Recap: Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr, May, Jun, Jul, Aug, Sept, Oct, Nov, Dec]

Lunar Eclipse Photo Gallery
[NASA: "Solstice Lunar Eclipse"] [astronomy alerts]

  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 6, 2011 there were 1167 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 All rights reserved. This site is penned daily by Dr. Tony Phillips.
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