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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Solar wind
speed: 459.0 km/sec
density: 4.4 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2344 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: B8
1714 UT Jun12
24-hr: B8
1714 UT Jun12
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2300 UT
Daily Sun: 12 Jun 11
The Earthside of the sun is almost blank. The chance of strong flares is low. Credit: SDO/HMI
Sunspot number: 37
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 11 Jun 2011

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 0 days
2011 total: 1 day (<1%)
2010 total: 51 days (14%)
2009 total: 260 days (71%)
Since 2004: 820 days
Typical Solar Min: 486 days

Updated 11 Jun 2011

The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 85 sfu
explanation | more data
Updated 11 Jun 2011

Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
Planetary K-index
Now: Kp= 3 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 3
explanation | more data
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 7.0 nT
Bz: 1.4 nT south
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2345 UT
Coronal Holes: 11 Jun 11
A minor solar wind stream flowing from the indicated coronal hole should reach Earth on or about June 14th. Credit: SDO/AIA.
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2011 Jun 12 2200 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: 2011 Jun 12 2200 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
20 %
15 %
10 %
05 %
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
25 %
20 %
15 %
10 %
01 %
01 %
Sunday, Jun. 12, 2011
What's up in space

Are we alone? Your iPhone has the answer. Download the all-new Drake Equation app to calculate the population of the Milky Way.

DrakeEQ for iPhone and iPad

LUNAR ECLIPSE: If you live in North America, you're out of luck. Sky watchers on every other continent, however, will experience a total lunar eclipse on June 15th. The Moon will spend 100 minutes fully engulfed in Earth's shadow, making this the longest lunar eclipse in nearly 11 years. Maximum eclipse occurs on Wednesday night at 20:12 UT. [details] [animation]

SOLAR ACTIVITY: The chance of strong solar flares today is low, but the chance of giant prominences is 100%. Mike Borman photographed this one from his backyard observatory in Evansville, Indiana:

"A number of giant prominences are dancing around the limb of the sun," he reports. "They have beautifully intricate shapes."

Prominences are tendrils of hot plasma held aloft by solar magnetic fields. Today's are big enough to see with ease using no more than backyard solar telescopes. Where should you point your optics? Targets of interest may be found in a full-disk photo taken by Borman.

more images: from John Stetson of Falmouth, Maine; from Pete Lawrence of Selsey, West Sussex, UK; from Peter Desypris of Syros,Greece; from Jim Lafferty of Redlands, California

DROOPY DISH: Drivers traveling down Highway 395 in California's Eastern Sierra are accustomed to seeing a large white dish looming in front of the sandy-brown mountains. It's the 40-meter antenna at Caltech's Owens Valley Radio Observatory. On June 6th local resident Andrew Kirk was passing by the observatory when an extraordinary sight made him stop for a closer look. The antenna was apparently drooping and melting into the ground like a Dali watch:

"I realized I had seen a mirage image of the big dish," says Kirk, "so I went back to document it. Sadly, I had only a pocket camera with limited zoom. I improvised, though, and photographed the 'drooping dish' through one barrel of my binoculars. Amazingly, as I watched, the dish began to tilt upwards and within a few minutes it was pointing straight up. Had I passed a bit later I would have missed it."

According to atmospheric optics expert Les Cowley, the phenomenon was caused by "an abnormally warm air layer close to the ground that had a non-linear temperature gradient. The conditions were akin to stages of an Etruscan vase sunset mirage or the inferior mirages seen over sun-heated roads. Strictly speaking, however, this one was a distortion rather than a mirage because the latter is technically reserved for when there is more than one image of the distant object." A full discussion of the drooping dish may be found at Cowley's excellent Optics Picture of the Day website.

Kirk drives by the dish frequently and he's looking forward to a whole summer of warm air and temperature gradients. "I hope to see this again...with my better camera in tow."

June 2011 Aurora Gallery
[Aurora alerts: text, voice] [previous Junes: 2010, 2008, 2001]

Midnight Solar Eclipse Gallery
[NASA: A Rare Eclipse of the Midnight Sun]

  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 12, 2011 there were 1224 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Recent & Upcoming Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
2009 BD
Jun 2
0.9 LD
10 m
2011 KE15
Jun 3
3.7 LD
16 m
2011 KV15
Jun 5
8.3 LD
25 m
2002 JB9
Jun 11
71.5 LD
3.1 km
2001 VH75
Jun 12
42.2 LD
1.1 km
2011 LT17
Jun 15
4.6 LD
230 m
2004 LO2
Jun 15
9.9 LD
48 m
2011 GA55
Jul 6
64.1 LD
1.0 km
2011 EZ78
Jul 10
37.3 LD
1.6 km
2003 YS117
Jul 14
73.9 LD
1.0 km
2007 DD
Jul 23
9.3 LD
31 m
2009 AV
Aug 22
49.7 LD
1.1 km
2003 QC10
Sep 18
50 LD
1.2 km
2004 SV55
Sep 19
67.5 LD
1.2 km
2007 TD
Sep 23
3.8 LD
58 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 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
Science Central
Conquest Graphics
  for out-of-this-world printing and graphics
Trade Show Displays
  more links...
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