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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Current conditions
Solar wind
speed: 317.1 km/sec
density: 0.6 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2343 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A0
1905 UT Oct17
24-hr: A0
1905 UT Oct17
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2340 UT
Daily Sun: 17 Oct. 09
The sun is blank--no sunspots. Photo credit: SOHO/MDI
Sunspot number: 0
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 16 Oct 2009

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 15 days
2009 total: 227 days (79%)
Since 2004: 738 days
Typical Solar Min: 485 days
explanation | more info
Updated 16 Oct 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
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 3.5 nT
Bz: 2.4 nT north
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2346 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 Oct 17 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 Oct 17 2201 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
05 %
05 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
05 %
05 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
What's up in Space
October 17, 2009

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


LUNAR IMPACT PLUME: There was a plume after all. Observers on Earth had their doubts after LCROSS and its Centaur booster rocket hit the Moon on Friday, Oct. 9th. The twin lunar impacts failed to produce visible plumes of debris, prompting speculation that something had gone wrong. On the contrary, members of the LCROSS science team are now calling the experiment "a smashing success."

Fifteen seconds after the Centaur hit the shadowy floor of crater Cabeus, the LCROSS spacecraft flying 600 km overhead took the following picture of a plume measuring 6 to 8 km wide:

"There is a clear indication of a plume of vapor and fine debris," says LCROSS principal investigator Tony Colaprete of NASA/Ames. "The ejecta brightness appears to be at the low end of our predictions and this may be a clue to the properties of the material the Centaur hit."

Nine cameras and spectrometers on LCROSS captured every phase of the Centaur's impact: the intial flash, the debris plume, and the creation of the Centaur's crater. "We are blown away by the data returned," says Colaprete. "The team is working hard on the analysis and the data appear to be of very high quality."

But did the impact reveal any water at the bottom of Cabeus? The LCROSS team isn't ready to say yet. Combining their data with those of other observatories and analyzing the full dataset could take weeks. According to NASA, "any new information will undergo the normal scientific review process and will be released as soon as it is available."

For more information, read NASA's Oct. 16th press release and browse the gallery of images.

MORNING PLANETS IN MOTION: Yesterday in Bretagne, France, photographer Laurent Laveder woke before dawn to watch Venus, Saturn and the Moon rise together over a local marina. "I made a 50-minute, 22-megabyte movie of the event," he says. Click on the image to set the scene in motion (DivX required):

Launch a 22 MB avi movie

"The show was cut short by the arrival of the clouds, but it was great anyway!" he says. Challenge: Watch the movie again and find the blue heron. It's asleep on one of the boats.

more images: from Miguel Claro of Cacilhas, Almada, Portugal; from Azhy Chato Hasan of Erbil city, Kurdistan Region, Iraq; from Marco Meniero of Roma, Italy; from Mohammad Mehdi Asgari of Arak, Iran; from Mark Staples of Little Lake Santa Fe, Waldo, FL; from James W. Young near San Bernardino, CA; from Mohammad Javad Fahimi at the Jabaliyeh Dome in Kerman, Iran; from Todd Carlson of Burk's Falls, Ontario, Canada; from Antonio Finazzi of Chiuduno, Bergamo - Italy; from Jens Hackmann of Weikersheim, southern Germany

Sept. 2009 Aurora Gallery
[previous Septembers: 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004, 2002, 2001]

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 October 17, 2009 there were 1074 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Oct. 2009 Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
2001 CV26
Oct. 8
9.8 LD
2.2 km
2009 TJ
Oct. 13
10.8 LD
130 m
1999 AP10
Oct. 20
29.7 LD
2.7 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 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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