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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Solar wind
speed: 473.0 km/sec
density: 0.7 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2343 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: B2
2051 UT Jul14
24-hr: B4
0052 UT Jul14
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2300 UT
Daily Sun: 14 Jul 11
The sun is peppered with spots, but none of them poses a threat for strong flares. Credit: SDO/HMI
Sunspot number: 90
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 13 Jul 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 13 Jul 2011

The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 95 sfu
explanation | more data
Updated 13 Jul 2011

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: 5.5 nT
Bz: 0.3 nT south
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2344 UT
Coronal Holes: 14 Jul 11
Solar wind flowing from the indicated coronal hole should reach Earth around July 19th. Credit: SDO/AIA.
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2011 Jul 14 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 Jul 14 2200 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
10 %
05 %
05 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
15 %
05 %
05 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
Thursday, Jul. 14, 2011
What's up in space

Turn your cell phone into a field-tested satellite tracker. Works for Android and iPhone.

Satellite flybys

PIECES OF VESTA: NASA's Dawn spacecraft is about to enter orbit around Vesta for a year-long study of the giant asteroid. Dawn's cameras are expected to reveal an alien world of great beauty, helping researchers unravel mysteries of how our solar system formed. As close as Dawn will be, however, you can get even closer. Authentic pieces of Vesta are now available in the Space Weather Store.

THUNDER MOON: There's a full Moon tonight. According to folklore, it is the "Thunder Moon," named after the booming electrical storms of summer. Watch out for lightning, and enjoy the Thunder moonlight. Images: #1, #2, #3;

THE SCALE OF THINGS: Feeling small? Warning: The following images could exacerbate the problem. On July 13, amateur astronomer Dave Gradwell of Birr, Ireland, photographed a number of features on the sun and set Earth alongside each for scale:

Starting at the top and proceeding clockwise we have new sunspot 1251, a plasma fountain on the sun's southeastern limb, and sunspot 1250 bisected by a light bridge. Everything pictured is bigger than Earth, where the photographer himself is no larger than a single pixel. On the bright side, the outsized scale of things on the sun makes it a fine target for backyard solar telescopes.

more images: from Pavol Rapavy of Observatory Rimavska Sobota, Slovakia; from Jesus Carmona de Argila of Madrid (SPAIN); from Jim Lafferty of Redlands, California;

LAST TRANSIT: Among many things space shuttle Atlantis is doing for the last time, transiting the sun is perhaps the most difficult to observe. Nevertheless, on July 11th Catalin Paduraru managed to catch the orbiter in a split-second crossing of the solar disk over Salcioara, Romania:

"After my two previous attempts to photograph a transit of the ISS failed, it seems that the third time was a charm," says Paduraru. "This was a very special photo because it captured the last flight of Atlantis currently docked to the space station."

Atlantis won't return to Earth for another week. So, while there won't be any more sun-crossings over Salcioara, Romania, other places might still experience this rare event. Transit predictions may be found at

more images: from Flavius Gligor of Izgar, Romania; from Stella Soultou of Koropi, Attica, Greece

2011 Noctilucent Cloud Gallery
[previous years: 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009]

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

  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 July 14, 2011 there were 1237 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Recent & Upcoming Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
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
2003 BK47
Jul 26
77.6 LD
1.1 km
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
2002 AG29
Oct 9
77.1 LD
1.0 km
2000 OJ8
Oct 13
49.8 LD
2.5 km
2009 TM8
Oct 17
1.1 LD
8 m
2011 FZ2
Nov 7
75.9 LD
1.6 km
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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