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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Solar wind
speed: 431.8 km/sec
density: 0.4 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2335 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: M1
2235 UT Nov15
24-hr: M1
1243 UT Nov15
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2300 UT
Daily Sun: 15 Nov 11
Sunspot 1346 produced an M2-class flare @ 1243 UT on Nov. 15th. Credit: SDO/HMI
Sunspot number: 176
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 14 Nov 2011

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 0 days
2011 total: 2 days (<1%)
2010 total: 51 days (14%)
2009 total: 260 days (71%)
Since 2004: 821 days
Typical Solar Min: 486 days

Updated 14 Nov 2011

The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 161 sfu
explanation | more data
Updated 14 Nov 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: 6.5 nT
Bz: 0.4 nT north
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2341 UT
Coronal Holes: 15 Nov 11
There are no large coronal holes on the Earthside of the sun. Credit: SDO/AIA.
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2011 Nov 15 2200 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
55 %
55 %
05 %
05 %
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 Nov 15 2200 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
06 %
06 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
10 %
10 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2011
What's up in space

Metallic photos of the sun by renowned photographer Greg Piepol bring together the best of art and science. Buy one or a whole set. They make a stellar gift.

Metallic pictures of the Sun

THE LUNAR IONOSPHERE: How can a world with no air have an ionosphere? Somehow the Moon has done it. Researchers have been puzzled by the lunar ionosphere for more than 40 years. With the recent publication of a paper in Planetary and Space Science, the mystery may have been solved. Get the full story from Science@NASA.

SNAP! ERUPTING FILAMENT: For the past few days, astronomers around the world have been monitoring a dark filament of magnetism sprawled more than 1,000,000 kilometers across the face of the sun. Make that 750,000 km. On Nov. 14th the filament snapped and flung a fraction of itself into space. NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory recorded the action:

The eruption hurled a cloud of plasma into space, but not toward Earth. The only effect on our planet would be to disappoint observers hoping for a longer filament.

Meanwhile, a wall of plasma towering over the sun's SE limb is seething with activity and may be poised to erupt as well. Readers with solar telescopes are encouraged to monitor developments. Solar flare alerts: text, phone

more images: from Sylvain Weiller of Saint Rémy lès Chevreuse, France; from John Stetson of Falmouth, Maine; from Chris Hetlage of Deerlick Astronomy Village, Georgia; from David Cortner of Rutherford College, North Carolina; from Jo Dahlmans of Ulestraten The Netherlands; from Francisco A. Rodriguez of the Canary Islands; from Ron Cottrell of Oro Valley, Arizona; from Gianfranco Meregalli of Milano Italy; from Roel Weijenberg of Wilp, Gelderland, Netherlands; from Andy Burns of Chippenham, Wiltshire, UK

ASTEROID PARALLAX: "On November 9th, asteroid 2005 YU55 passed so close to Earth that viewers at separate locations saw the interloper appear in slightly different spots against the background star field," says amateur astronomer Mike Harms of San Francisco. To illustrate this parallax effect, he combined his own observations with those of Dennis di Cicco across the country in Boston:

At the time of the flyby, the 400m-wide space rock was only 324,600 kilometers away, about 85% the distance from Earth to the Moon. This allowed amateur and professional astronomers alike to study the asteroid in unprecedented detail.

In Australia, where the Boston vs. Brisbane parallax effect was even greater, Dennis Simmons video-recorded the flyby: "It was quite sobering to be able to view the almost full Moon some 20 degrees away, knowing that this lump of rock was now nearer to me than our Moon," he says. "I was astonished at how bright the NEO appeared, having read that results from the Arecibo radar indicated it to be a very dark, nearly spherical object some 400 meters in diameter."

more images: from Conrad Jung of Oakland, California; from Libor Vyskocil of Observatory Upice, Czech Republic; from Rolando Ligustri of Talmassons (Italy); from William Wiethoff of Port Wing, Wisconsin; from Marco Langbroek of Markleeberg, California

  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 November 15, 2011 there were 1256 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Recent & Upcoming Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
2011 FZ2
Nov 7
75.9 LD
1.6 km
2005 YU55
Nov 8
0.8 LD
400 m
2011 UT91
Nov 15
9.9 LD
109 m
1994 CK1
Nov 16
68.8 LD
1.5 km
1996 FG3
Nov 23
39.5 LD
1.1 km
2003 WM7
Dec 9
47.6 LD
1.6 km
1999 XP35
Dec 20
77.5 LD
1.0 km
2000 YA
Dec 26
2.9 LD
80 m
2011 SL102
Dec 28
75.9 LD
1.1 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
Trade Show Displays
  more links...
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