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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Solar wind
speed: 446.2 km/sec
density: 0.7 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2347 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: C5
1953 UT Nov16
24-hr: C7
1505 UT Nov16
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2300 UT
Daily Sun: 16 Nov 11
Sunspot 1346 poses a slight threat for Earth-directed M-flares. Credit: SDO/HMI
Sunspot number: 137
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 15 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 15 Nov 2011

The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 148 sfu
explanation | more data
Updated 15 Nov 2011

Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
Planetary K-index
Now: Kp= 1 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 1
explanation | more data
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 3.9 nT
Bz: 3.5 nT north
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2346 UT
Coronal Holes: 16 Nov 11
There are no large coronal holes on the Earthside of the sun. Credit: SDO/AIA.
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2011 Nov 16 2200 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
40 %
40 %
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 16 2200 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
06 %
10 %
02 %
02 %
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
16 %
17 %
17 %
22 %
10 %
13 %
Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2011
What's up in space

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

Satellite flybys

LEONID METEORS: According to forecaster Jérémie Vaubaillon, Earth might pass through a filament of dust from Comet Tempel-Tuttle around 22h36m UT on November 16. The encounter could produce a brief flurry of Leonid meteors. If it's dark where you live, keep an eye on the sky. Otherwise, tune in to the meteor radar for possible echoes.

DOUBLE FLYBY ALERT: China's new space station, the Tiangong 1, is making a series of evening flybys over the United States this week. Sky watchers who go out to see it might spot a second spacecraft. The unmanned Shenzhou 8 probe is traveling alongside Tiangong 1 as it concludes maneuvers designed to test the craft's rendevous and docking capabilities. Check the Satellite Tracker or your smartphone for local flyby times.

On Nov. 14th, David Blanchard watched the docked spacecraft glide past the Andromeda galaxy in the crystal-clear skies of Flagstaff, Arizona:

"The Tiangong-1 Space Station zipped brighly across the sky, then swiftly faded away as it entered Earth's shadow," says

Hours later the streak of light split in two when the Shenzhou 8 undocked. The window for double-sightings may be closing, however. Controllers at the Beijing Aerospace Control Center plan to command the Shenzhou 8 to re-enter Earth's atmosphere during the late hours of Nov. 17th. If all goes as planned, a re-entry capsule will be recovered from a landing site most likely in Inner Mongolia.

SOLAR BLAST: A magnetic prominence dancing along the sun's southeastern limb became unstable on Nov. 15th and slowly erupted. NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory recorded the event, which unfolded over a period of thirteen hours:

The eruption hurled a cloud of plasma (CME) toward Venus. According to a forecast track created by analysts at the Goddard Space Weather Lab, the cloud should reach the second planet on Nov. 17th. Venus has no global magnetic field to protect it from CMEs. The impact will likely strip a small amount of atmosphere from the planet's cloudtops. Solar flare alerts: text, phone

more images: from Lyrics Some of Panyu, Guangzhou, China.; from Karzaman Ahmad of Langkawi National Observatory, Malaysia; from Chin Wei Loon of Solar Observatory, University of Malaya, Malaysia.

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 16, 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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