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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Current conditions
Solar wind
speed: 340.9 km/sec
density: 1.0 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2344 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: C9
1805 UT Feb12
24-hr: M5
1125 UT Feb12
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2340 UT
Daily Sun: 12 Feb. 10
Sunspots 1046 continues to grow and produce sporadic C-class solar flares. . Image credit: SOHO/MDI
Sunspot number: 64
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 11 Feb 2010

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 0 days
2010 total: 2 days (5%)
2009 total: 260 days (71%)
Since 2004: 772 days
Typical Solar Min: 485 days
explanation | more info
Updated 11 Feb 2010

The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 94 sfu
explanation | more data
Updated 11 Feb 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: 6.0 nT
Bz: 0.7 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. 14th or 15th. Credit: SOHO Extreme UV Telescope
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2010 Feb 12 2201 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
70 %
70 %
20 %
20 %
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 Feb 12 2201 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
20 %
10 %
10 %
05 %
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
30 %
15 %
10 %
05 %
01 %
01 %
What's up in Space
February 12, 2010

SATELLITE FLYBYS APP: Turn your iPhone or iPod into a field-tested satellite tracker! presents the Satellite Flybys app.


TGFS AND AIR TRAVEL: Terrestrial gamma-ray flashes (TGFs) course through thunderstorms at about the same altitude where commercial airliners fly. Do these blasts of gamma-radiation pose a hazard to air travelers? Researchers discuss the possibilities in today's story from Science@NASA.

SOLAR FLARE: Sunspot 1046 is crackling with M-class solar flares. This morning in the Netherlands, amateur astronomer Emiel Veldhuis happened to be looking when one of them erupted. He captured the following images using a Lunt LS60T CaK backyard solar telescope:

Click to view an animation

The brief but powerful flare registered M8.3 on the "Richter scale" of solar flares. NASA's STEREO-B spacecraft also recorded a movie of the event, which was the strongest flare in more than two years. More eruptions are in the offing; readers with solar telescopes should train their optics on sunspot 1046.

more images: from Terje Isberg of Biberstein, Switzerland; from Dennis Simmons of Brisbane, QLD, Australia; from Peter Paice of Belfast, Northern Ireland; from James Kevin Ty of Manila, the Philippines; from D. Booth and J. Stetson of South Portland, Maine; from Etienne Lecoq of Mesnil Panneville, Normandy, France

SDO DESTROYS A SUNDOG: The Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) lifted off from Kennedy Space Center on Thursday morning, Feb. 11th, kicking off a 5-year mission to study the variability of the sun. Moments after liftoff, SDO did something that astonished and delighted observers. It flew right through a bright, rainbow-colored sundog and destroyed it. Click on the image to launch a 10 MB Quicktime video recorded by13-year-old Anna Herbst of Bishop, California:

Sundogs are formed by plate-shaped ice crystals floating in cirrus clouds. "When SDO's Atlas V rocket penetrated the cirrus, shock waves went rippling through the cloud and destroyed the alignment of the crystals," says atmospheric optics expert Les Cowley. "This extinguished the sundog."

Play the movie again and this time turn up the volume to hear the reaction of the crowd when the waves hit the sundog. "I've never seen anything like it," said Anna's friend and traveling companion Amelia Phillips. "It was amazing!"

This was an auspicious beginning indeed for a mission designed amaze. Once it reaches its final orbit, SDO will make IMAX-quality movies of solar explosions and peer beneath the stellar surface to see the sun's inner magnetic dynamo. No one has ever seen anything like that either. Stay tuned for updates.

February Northern Lights Gallery
[previous Februarys: 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2004, 2003, 2002]

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 12, 2010 there were 1094 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Jan. 2010 Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
2010 AL2
Jan. 11
11.5 LD
23 m
24761 Ahau
Jan. 11
70.8 LD
1.4 km
2000 YH66
Jan. 12
69.5 LD
1.1 km
2010 AL30
Jan. 13
0.3 LD
18 m
2010 AG3
Jan. 19
8.9 LD
14 m
2010 AN61
Jan. 19
8.0 LD
17 m
2010 AF40
Jan. 21
2.3 LD
43 m
2010 BC
Jan. 24
7.6 LD
160 m
2010 BU2
Jan. 27
6.4 LD
52 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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