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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Current conditions
Solar wind
speed: 342.0 km/sec
density: 0.7 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2346 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A0
2100 UT May13
24-hr: A0
1505 UT May13
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2340 UT
Daily Sun: 13 May 09
Today's image is a magnetic map of the sun. Two active regions are circled. Their polarity identifies them as members of new Solar Cycle 24, but they lack the dark cores required of true sunspots. So, in spite of these lively magnetic imprints, we must still say "the sun is blank--no sunspots." Credit: SOHO/MDI
Sunspot number: 0
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 13 May 2009

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 13 days
2009 total: 115 days (86%)
Since 2004: 626 days
Typical Solar Min: 485 days
explanation | more info
Updated 13 May 2009

Far side of the Sun:
This holographic image reveals no 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
What is the auroral oval?
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 4.9 nT
Bz: 0.9 nT south
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2347 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: 2009 May 13 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 May 13 2201 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
05 %
05 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
10 %
10 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
What's up in Space
May 13, 2009

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


HUBBLE CAPTURED: "Hubble has arrived onboard Atlantis!" That was the enthusiastic radio message shuttle astronauts sent to Houston at 1:14 pm EDT today after they had grappled Hubble using the shuttle's robotic arm and started the process of berthing the telescope in the shuttle's payload bay. The successful capture of Hubble sets the stage for servicing. In the days ahead, astronauts will conduct five spacewalks to repair and upgrade the telescope, extending Hubble's operational life until at least 2014.

Minutes before Hubble was captured, astronauts snapped this picture--the first close-up view of the great telescope since March 2002:

Both Atlantis and Hubble are visible to the unaided eye when they pass overhead in the night sky. Check the Simple Satellite Tracker to see if you are favored with a flyby.

SHADOWS VANISH IN INDIA: Today in Pune, India, Anirudh Walvekar stepped out of his office for lunch and noticed something missing. "Our shadows were gone!" he says. A second look revealed them to be merely underfoot:

"On May 13, 2009, at 12:30pm local time, the sun was directly above our heads in Pune, causing shadows to disappear," he explains. In the language of astronomy, the declination of the sun was +18.4 degrees, precisely equal to the latitude of Pune. "This phenomenon occurs twice a year, once in Spring when the sun passes overhead going north, and again in Summer (July 30th) when it returns to the south."

Tomorrow, May 14th, noon shadows will return to Pune, but they will disappear somewhere else as the sun continues its springtime journey north. If the latitude of your hometown happens to be +18.6 degrees, go outside on and look for your shadow. Hint: Look underfoot.

NOT A SUNSPOT: Solar activity comes in many forms. Today, astronomers are monitoring an enormous patch of seething magnetism churning through the sun's surface in a splash of bright, white froth. It is not a sunspot, but it is worth a look:

"The region is enormous," says photographer Andy Yeung of Hong Kong. "It's amazing!" He took the picture just hours ago using a 5-inch refractor capped with a LS100F Lunt solar filter.

The active region could be a "proto-sunspot"--a sunspot struggling to form, but not quite able to organize its own magnetic fields into a coherent, dark core. Or it could be a "sunspot corpse"--the decaying remains of a farside sunspot turning toward Earth at the end of its short life. Whatever it is, its magnetic polarity identifies it as a member of new Solar Cycle 24--and that makes it a sign of things to come.

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

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 May 13, 2009 there were 1054 potentially hazardous asteroids.
May 2009 Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
2009 JA
May 4
7.5 LD
37 m
2006 FG3
May 6
60.7 LD
1.1 km
2001 SG286
May 17
11.5 LD
280 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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