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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Current conditions
Solar wind
speed: 303.0 km/sec
density: 1.1 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2346 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A0
2340 UT Jun11
24-hr: A0
0400 UT Jun11
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2340 UT
Daily Sun: 11 June 09
The sun is blank--no sunspots. Credit: SOHO/MDI
Sunspot number: 0
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 10 Jun 2009

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 1 days
2009 total: 127 days (79%)
Since 2004: 638 days
Typical Solar Min: 485 days
explanation | more info
Updated 10 Jun 2009

Far side of the Sun:
This holographic image reveals no large sunspots on the far side of the sun. Image credit: SOHO/MDI
Planetary K-index
Now: Kp= 1 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 1
explanation | more data
Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 3.2 nT
Bz: 1.5 nT south
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2347 UT
Coronal Holes:
There are no coronal holes on the Earth-facing side of the sun. Credit: SOHO Extreme UV Telescope
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2009 Jun 11 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 Jun 11 2201 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
05 %
05 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
05 %
05 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
What's up in Space
June 11, 2009

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


BEWARE THE MARS HOAX: Just when you thought it was safe to check your email, the dreaded Mars Hoax is making the rounds again. Science@NASA has the full story.

LUNAR IMPACT: Japan's Kaguya spacecraft crashed into the Moon on Wednesday, June 10th, and the impact reportedly produced a flash visible from Earth. This sequence of images comes from the 3.9 meter Anglo-Australian Telescope in New South Wales, Australia:

Astronomers Jeremy Bailey and Steve Lee used the observatory's Infrared Imager and Spectrograph (IRIS2) to record the fireball, which appeared at 18:25 UT when the 2,900 kg spacecraft slammed into the lunar surface at 6000 km/hr. The observations were made with a 2.3 micron narrow band filter, and are part of a time series of 1 second exposures with 0.6 seconds dead time between each frame.

Readers are asking, why bother hitting the Moon? For one thing, it's a good way to end a mission. Lunar satellites can't orbit forever because the Moon's gravitational field is weird and lumpy. Crashing is better than flying off into space, where the spacecraft could pose a hazard to other missions. Crashing also produces a fireball, which allows astronomers to estimate the "luminous efficiency" of objects hitting the Moon. Luminous efficiency is a key parameter required to interpret genuine lunar meteorite impacts. Also, hitting the Moon might uncover something interesting--like evidence of water. NASA's LCROSS spacecraft will attempt that trick later this year.

NOCTILUCENT CLOUDS IN MOTION: Why are noctilucent clouds (NLCs) so mesmerizing? It could be their otherworldly electric-blue color. Or maybe it's just the hypnotic way they move:

Click here for a full-length movie

Lars Zielke of Denmark made the movie on June 9th. "The NLCs appeared over my observatory in Tvis just after midnight. I documented their motions in a series of movies between 00:30 to 01:00 local time."

Even deeper hypnosis is in the offing. There is a well-known correlation between noctilucent clouds and the solar cycle: NLC activity tends to peak during years of solar minimum, possibly because low solar activity allows the upper atmosphere to cool, promoting the growth of ice crystals that make up the clouds. With a century-class solar minimum underway, the stage is set for NLCs.

UPDATED: 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 June 11, 2009 there were 1062 potentially hazardous asteroids.
June 2009 Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
2009 KR21
June 1
0.7 LD
21 m
2009 KL8
June 1
5.1 LD
63 m
2003 QO104
June 9
36.8 LD
2.9 km
1994 CC
June 10
6.6 LD
1.2 km
2001 FE90
June 28
7.0 LD
435 m
2002 KL6
June 28
57.5 LD
1.4 km
2006 MV1
June 30
9.6 LD
20 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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