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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Current conditions
Solar wind
speed: 460.3 km/sec
density: 0.7 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2344 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A9
2035 UT Apr09
24-hr: B3
0450 UT Apr09
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2340 UT
Daily Sun: 09 Apr. 10
Decaying sunspot 1061 poses no threat for strong solar flares. Credit: SOHO/MDI
Sunspot number: 23
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 08 Apr 2010

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 0 days
2010 total: 6 days (6%)
2009 total: 260 days (71%)
Since 2004: 776 days
Typical Solar Min: 485 days
explanation | more info
Updated 08 Apr 2010

The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 76 sfu
explanation | more data
Updated 08 Apr 2010

Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
Planetary K-index
Now: Kp= 1 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 3
explanation | more data
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 4.2 nT
Bz: 0.4 nT south
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2345 UT
Coronal Holes:
There are no large coronal holes on the Earth-facing side of the sun. Credit: SOHO Extreme UV Telescope
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2010 Apr 09 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: 2010 Apr 09 2201 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
01 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
01 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
What's up in Space
April 9, 2010

NEW AND IMPROVED: Turn your iPhone or iPod Touch into a field-tested global satellite tracker. The Satellite Flybys app now works in all countries.


INCOMING CME: Decaying sunspot 1060 delivered a parting shot on April 8th. The active region's magnetic field erupted, sparking a B3-class solar flare and hurling a faint coronal mass ejection (CME) almost directly toward Earth. Geomagnetic disturbances are possible when the cloud arrives on April 11th or 12th.

THE ACTION IN ICELAND: Sometimes both heaven and Earth erupt. Such was the case on April 4th when an outburst of auroras met an outburst of lava in southern Iceland:

Kristinn R. Kristinsson took the picture from a glacier overlooking Iceland's active Eyjafjallajökull volcano. The volcano erupted on March 20th for the first time in 190 years--and it has been spewing lava and attracting sightseers ever since. Even Top Gear is filming an episode there. On April 4th a solar wind gust hit Earth and ignited auroras almost directly above the lava flow. Kristinsson was in the right place at the right time to see the display.

April 4th marked the beginning of a major solar wind storm, which is only now subsiding. The four-day event brought auroras to the lava fields of Iceland, created a kaleidoscopic display of moving color over Antarctica, and lured onlookers in Siberia outdoors for a quick "aurora dance." Really. Browse the gallery for photos.

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

DID YOU SEE THAT COMET? On April 5th, space shuttle Discovery blasted off from Cape Canaveral at the crack of dawn. The shuttle began its journey in darkness--the sun was still below the horizon--but moments after it left the pad, Discovery burst into high altitude sunlight and proceeded to put on an extraordinary show. University of Florida astronomy professor Howard Cohen describes what he saw from his home in Gainesville, more than 130 miles from the Cape:

"The launch began in typical fashion- a brilliant, yellowish glow rising out of the southwest gradually morphing into a white contrail. Impatient observes might have thought that was it. But then an amazing contrail, the likes of which I have never seen before, rapidly appeared around and following the shuttle's path. For a short time it resembled a comet streaking across the dawn sky." He took this picture using his Canon EOS 5D:

Photo details: Canon EOS 5D Mark II, 190 seconds, ISO 800.

"In binoculars the view was stunning and chilling," Cohen continues. "It was like viewing a comet traveling in fast motion -- I could see the contrail unfolding, glistening and wavering behind the shuttle. Unlike some who might have thought something might have gone wrong, this never entered my mind. I could easily see the shuttle unhesitatingly moving forward."

Atmospheric optics Les Cowley believes the cloud formed when the shuttle entered the mesosphere. Water vapor spewing from the shuttle's main engines began to freeze, forming crystals of just the right size to scatter sunlight and produce the iridescent colors shown in so many photos.

"I think we had a 'perfect storm' for this launch," concludes Cohen. "Atmospheric conditions including probably cold and moist air, clear skies and especially sunlight at just the right angle produced this unique effect. Unfortunately, with the shuttle program coming to an end, we probably will not see this again."

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 April 9, 2010 there were 1114 potentially hazardous asteroids.
March 2010 Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
2001 PT9
March 3
11.1 LD
305 m
4486 Mithra
March 12
73.5 LD
3.3 km
2001 FM129
March 13
44.1 LD
1.5 km
2010 FU9
March 18
1.5 LD
19 m
2010 EF43
March 18
5.0 LD
23 m
2010 FT
March 27
5.5 LD
33 m
2002 TE66
March 28
48.0 LD
940 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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