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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Current conditions
Solar wind
speed: 295.8 km/sec
density: 2.0 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2345 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A3
2330 UT Jul08
24-hr: B3
0530 UT Jul08
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2340 UT
Daily Sun: 08 July 09
Sunspot 1024 is a member of new Solar Cycle 24. Credit: SOHO/MDI
Sunspot number: 21
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 07 July 2009

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 0 days
2009 total: 142 days (76%)
Since 2004: 653 days
Typical Solar Min: 485 days
explanation | more info
Updated 07 July 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
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 3.7 nT
Bz: 3.6 nT south
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2346 UT
Coronal Holes:
A solar wind stream flowing from the indicated coronal hole could reach Earth on or about July 12th. Credit: SOHO Extreme UV Telescope
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2009 Jul 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 Jul 08 2201 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
10 %
05 %
05 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
15 %
10 %
10 %
05 %
01 %
01 %
What's up in Space
July 8, 2009

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


WHAT'S FOLLOWING THE ISS? Sky watchers are reporting a "mysterious satellite" following the International Space Station. It trails the ISS by about one minute, relatively faint, but definitely there. Mystery solved: The follower is Progress 33, a Russian supply ship. On July 12th, it will come within meters of the space station to test a new automated docking system. Check the Simple Satellite Tracker for flyby times--and get two spaceships for the price of one.

images: from Ralf Vandebergh of Wittem, the Netherlands; from Jun Lao of Deerfield Township, Ohio

RESURGENT SUNSPOT: Yesterday, sunspot 1024 took the day off; the fast-growing active region stopped growing and even decayed a little. Today, the sunspot is growing again: movie. It now measures 125,000 km from end to end, almost as wide as the planet Jupiter. Fulvio Mete sends this picture from his backyard observatory in Rome, Italy:

The size of the spot makes it a fine target for amateur solar telescopes. And it is worth watching. Sunspot 1024 is the first big sunspot of new Solar Cycle 24, and it is crackling with minor but photogenic B-class flares. By itself, this one active region won't bring an end to the deepest solar minimum in a century, but it does show that the sun's magnetic dynamo is still working--a fact some had begun to doubt. More sunspots are coming, so stay tuned.

more images: from Stefano Sello of Pisa, Italy; from Andy Yeung of Hong Kong; from John Nassr of Baguio, Philippines; from Ehsan Rostamizadeh of Kerman, Iran; from Pavol Rapavy of Observatory Rimavska Sobota, Slovakia; from Steve Wainwright of Swansea South Wales, UK; from Keith Davies of Swansea, South Wales, United Kingdom; from David Leong of Hong Kong; from Peter Desypris on the Island of Syros, Greece;

BLUE MOON OVER IRAN: A severe dust storm so large that it is visible from space is blowing across Iran. Government officials have closed schools, cancelled flights, and warned the elderly and children to stay indoors. The only good thing about the storm is that it is turning the Moon a pleasing shade of blue:

Amir H. Abolfath took the picture from Tehran on July 7th. "I thought blue moons were a myth," he says, "but there it was."

Yes, blue moons are real. They appear when the air is filled with fine particles of dust (or other aerosols) about 1 micron in diameter. This is just the right size to make dusty air act as a blue color filter. Because the dust storm is so large, blue moons could be a regular fixture in the Persian sky for some nights to come.

more images: from Farzad Zamanfar of Tehran, Iran; from Mohamad Soltanolkottabi of Esfahan, Iran;

2009 Sarychev Sunset Gallery
[See also: 2008 Kasatochi Sunset Photo Gallery]

2009 Noctilucent Photo Gallery
[previous years: 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004, 2003]

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 July 8, 2009 there were 1065 potentially hazardous asteroids.
July 2009 Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
2009 MM8
July 13
11.4 LD
53 m
2008 NP3
July 18
11.8 LD
87 m
2006 TU7
July 20
14.2 LD
175 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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