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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Solar wind
speed: 389.2 km/sec
density: 1.8 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2345 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: B6
2238 UT Nov08
24-hr: M1
0223 UT Nov08
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2300 UT
Daily Sun: 08 Nov 12
A new sunspot emerging over the sun's NE limb (circled) poses a threat for M-class solar flares. The spell of quiet is broken. Credit: SDO/HMI
Sunspot number: 77
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 06 Nov 2012

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 0 days
2012 total: 0 days (0%)
2011 total: 2 days (<1%)
2010 total: 51 days (14%)
2009 total: 260 days (71%)
Since 2004: 821 days
Typical Solar Min: 486 days

Update 06 Nov 2012

The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 97 sfu
explanation | more data
Updated 06 Nov 2012

Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
Planetary K-index
Now: Kp= 0 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 1
explanation | more data
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 3.6 nT
Bz: 2.3 nT north
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2346 UT
Coronal Holes: 08 Nov 12
There are no large coronal holes on the Earthside of the sun. Credit: SDO/AIA.
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2012 Nov 08 2200 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
20 %
20 %
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: 2012 Nov 08 2200 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
05 %
10 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
15 %
15 %
10 %
15 %
05 %
10 %
Thursday, Nov. 8, 2012
What's up in space

Hang the Transit of Venus on your wall! Hubble-quality images from NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory are now available as metallic posters in the Space Weather Store.

Venus Transit metal posters

TOTAL ECLIPSE OF THE SUN: Scientists and sky watchers are converging on the northeast coast of Australia, near the Great Barrier Reef, for a total eclipse of the sun on Nov. 13/14. For researchers, the brief minutes of totality open a window into some of the deepest mysteries of solar physics. [video] [full story]

M-CLASS SOLAR FLARE: The week-long spell of solar quiet was broken this morning, Nov. 8th, when a new sunspot unleashed an M1.7-class flare. NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory captured the extreme UV flash:


Because of the blast site's location on the sun's northeastern limb, Earth was not in the line of fire. It will take about a week for this new active region to turn squarely toward our planet. Stay tuned for updates as the chance of geoeffective flares increases in the days ahead. Solar flare alerts: text, voice.

OBAMA VISITS THE EDGE OF SPACE: After winning re-election yesterday, President Obama is on top of the world. Seriously. A group of high school students in Bishop, California, has launched a Barack Obama bobblehead to the edge of space using a suborbital helium balloon. Here is a picture of the president on Nov. 5th approximately 120,000 feet above Earth's surface:

This flight was conducted by the same students who earlier this year launched NASA's rubber chicken into a solar storm to sample high protons from the sun. "Sending Obama into the stratosphere was just for fun," says team member Amelia Phillips. "But it was good practice for more serious projects, such as our flights to measure solar flares and photograph meteor showers." The group, which calls itself "Earth to Sky Calculus," has been flying suborbital helium research balloons for two years; this is the first time the President has gone for a ride.

Images and video from the flight are still being processed. Here are some first looks: Video: Obama at 120,000 feet (8 MB); the balloon pops (1.2 MB); The President's wild ride (19 MB); Still images: Fractured balloon; Obama over Mono Lake; Mitt was there, too!

SO THIS IS SOLAR MAXIMUM? Forecasters have long expected the Solar Max of 2013 to be the weakest of the Space Age. It might be even weaker than they thought. As shown in this 20-year plot of sunspot counts vs. time, the sun is underperforming:

Sunspot numbers are notoriously variable, so the actual counts could rapidly rise to meet or exceed the predicted curve. For now, however, the face of the sun is devoid of large sunspots, and there have been no strong flares in more than a week. The threshold of Solar Max looks a lot like Solar Min. NOAA forecasters estimate no more than a 1% chance of X-class solar flares in the next 24 hours.

Realtime Space Weather Photo Gallery

TAURID FIREBALLS: Sky watchers should be alert for fireballs in the nights ahead. Forecasters say Earth is entering a swarm of gravelly debris from comet Encke. Meteoroids the size of pebbles and small stones hitting Earth's atmosphere at 25 km/s are producing a slow drizzle of very bright fireballs flying out of the constellation Taurus. The display is expected to peak with a few fireballs every hour during the nights of Nov. 5-12.

On Nov. 2nd, Salvador Aguirre photographed a Taurid fireball streaking over Hermosillo, Mexico. Circled, the fireball was even brighter than the nearby Moon:

"Este fue un Gran Fireball!" says Aguirre, who estimates its astronomical magnitude to be -18. This means the fireball was 100 times brighter than a full Moon (magn. -13). To capture the Taurid, he used an All Sky Sentinel camera on loan from the Sandia National Laboratories.

"What always strikes me about the Taurids," notes Bill Cooke of NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office, "is how deeply they penetrate Earth's atmosphere. On average, they make it down to an altitude of 44 miles. Contrast this to the recent Orionids, which burn up at an average altitude of 58 miles. Part of this is due to the speed difference: Taurids are slow (27 km/s) while Orionids are fast (66 km/s). In addition, many Taurids are made up of stronger stuff than the Orionids."

Cooke encourages sky watchers to observe the Taurids and report their fireball counts to NASA using the Meteor Counter app--now available for Apple and for Android devices.

Realtime Meteor Photo Gallery

Realtime Aurora Photo Gallery

Realtime Noctilucent Cloud Photo Gallery
[previous years: 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011]

  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 November 8, 2012 there were potentially hazardous asteroids.
Recent & Upcoming Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
2012 UX136
Nov 4
2.7 LD
35 m
2007 PA8
Nov 5
16.8 LD
2.4 km
2012 VD5
Nov 6
1.5 LD
23 m
2012 VB5
Nov 9
4.7 LD
26 m
2012 UV136
Nov 10
5.8 LD
34 m
2012 VQ6
Nov 10
1.8 LD
17 m
2012 UY68
Nov 14
6.7 LD
44 m
2010 JK1
Nov 25
9.3 LD
56 m
2009 LS
Nov 28
55.2 LD
1.1 km
2009 BS5
Dec 11
8.4 LD
15 m
4179 Toutatis
Dec 12
18 LD
2.7 km
2003 SD220
Dec 23
59.8 LD
1.8 km
1998 WT24
Dec 23
69.2 LD
1.1 km
2003 UC20
Dec 29
25.7 LD
1.0 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
Space Weather Alerts
  more links...
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