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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Current conditions
Solar wind
speed: 320.1 km/sec
density: 4.2 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2345 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A0
2340 UT Feb08
24-hr: A0
2340 UT Feb08
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2340 UT
Daily Sun: 08 Feb 09
The sun is blank--no sunspots. Credit: SOHO/MDI

more images: from Adrian Guzman of San Jose, California; from Erika Rix of Zanesville, Ohio; from Stefano Sello of Pisa, Italy;
Sunspot number: 0
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 07 Feb. 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= 2 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: 3.0 nT
Bz: 2.1 nT south
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2346 UT
Coronal Holes:
A solar wind stream flowing from the indicated coronal hole should reach Earth on Feb. 13th or 14th. Credit: SOHO Extreme UV Telescope
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2009 Feb 08 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 Feb 08 2201 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
10 %
05 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
15 %
10 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
What's up in Space
February 8, 2009

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


COMET LULIN UPDATE: Experienced observers report that Comet Lulin has brightened to naked-eye visibility from dark-sky sites. It looks like a pale "fuzzy patch" in the constellation Libra before dawn. Backyard telescopes pointed at the patch reveal a lovely green comet with a rapidly re-growing plasma tail. Browse the gallery for latest photos.

DUSKY LUNAR ECLIPSE: On Monday, Feb. 9th, the full Moon will pass through the outskirts of Earth's shadow, producing a penumbral lunar eclipse. The event should be easily visible to the naked eye as a dusky shading of the northern half of the Moon. A similar eclipse in March 2006 looked like this:

Stefan Seip took the picture from Welzheim, Germany. Note the gray shadow, lower-right, intruding on what should be a uniformly-lit full Moon. This kind of eclipse is not as dramatic as a deep-red total lunar eclipse, but it does have a subtle, almost-surprising beauty which should not be dismissed until you've seen one with your own eyes.

Maximum eclipse occurs on Monday between the hours of 1400 and 1520 UT (6:00 am - 7:20 am Pacific time; 4:00 a.m. - 5:40 am Hawaii time). The timing favors observers in western North America, Hawaii, Australia and east Asia: visibility map.

More information: [animated eclipse] [NASA details] [photo gallery]

ICY CORONA: Colorful lunar coronas are formed by spherical droplets of water in clouds. Moonlight hits the liquid droplets and diffraction does the rest. At least, that's how it's supposed to work....

Last night, Prof. Joseph Shaw of Montana State University looked up and saw a lovely corona circling the Moon--but something was not quite right. The cloud that caused the display seemed too high and cold for water droplets. More likely, Shaw figured, it was a cloud of ice, and to test his hypothesis, he shined a laser into the heavens:

The timing and polarization of the laser's reflection revealed the cloud's altitude and composition. Just as Shaw suspected, it was high (7.5 - 10 km) and contained an abundance of ice crystals. Sharp-edged specks of ice, not spherical droplets of water, must have produced the corona.

"Ice crystals in clouds are usually much too large to produce visual diffraction patterns," says Shaw. "However, this was a special type of cloud--a 'wave cloud' created when air oscillates after flowing over mountains such as those that surround my town, Bozeman, Montana. Wave clouds have been found to sometimes contain little tiny ice particles created when liquid droplets freeze so quickly they have insufficient time to grow into large ice crystals."

The crystals in this particular wave cloud were 10 to 20 microns in diameter--perfect for making the corona Shaw observed.

"We are funded to measure clouds, aerosols and atmospheric radiation for climate studies," says Shaw. "Often I get to do studies like this when I recognize the opportunities that Mother Nature presents."

February 2009 Aurora Gallery
[Previous Februaries: 2008, 2007, 2006, 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 February 8, 2009 there were 1024 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Feb. 2009 Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
2009 BK58
Feb. 2
1.7 LD
30 m
2009 BG81
Feb. 2
4.4 LD
12 m
2009 CC2
Feb. 2
0.5 LD
12 m
2009 BW2
Feb. 5
8.4 LD
40 m
2009 CP
Feb. 8
7.7 LD
20 m
2009 BE58
Feb. 10
8.6 LD
225 m
2006 AS2
Feb. 10
9.2 LD
370 m
2009 BL58
Feb. 11
4.8 LD
55 m
1999 AQ10
Feb. 18
4.4 LD
390 m
2009 CV
Feb. 23
4.8 LD
62 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...
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