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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Solar wind
speed: 410.2 km/sec
density: 0.5 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2342 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: B5
1745 UT Oct17
24-hr: C1
0900 UT Oct17
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2340 UT
Daily Sun: 17 Oct 10
Sunspot 1112 is crackling with M- and C-class solar flares. Credit: SOHO/MDI. 2-day movie: 8 MB mpg
Sunspot number: 48
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 16 Oct 2010

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 0 days
2010 total: 45 days (16%)
2009 total: 260 days (71%)
Since 2004: 813 days
Typical Solar Min: 486 days
explanation | more info
Updated 16 Oct 2010

The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 87 sfu
explanation | more data
Updated 16 Oct 2010

Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
Planetary K-index
Now: Kp= 2 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 4
explanation | more data
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 5.3 nT
Bz: 2.1 nT south
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2346 UT
Coronal Holes: 16 Oct 10
A solar wind stream flowing from the indicated coronal hole could reach Earth on Oct. 19th or 20th. Credit: SDO/AIA.
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2010 Oct 17 2200 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
25 %
25 %
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: 2010 Oct 17 2200 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
20 %
30 %
05 %
15 %
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
25 %
35 %
15 %
20 %
01 %
01 %
Sunday, Oct. 17, 2010
What's up in space

ON SALE NOW: The David H. Levy Comet Hunter -- offering the clearest views of Comet Hartley 2.


SOLAR FLARES: Fast-growing sunspot 1112 is crackling with solar flares. SDO movies show the three strongest of the past 24 hours: an M3-flare @ 1910 UT on Oct. 16th, a C1-flare @ 0900 UT and another C1-flare @ 1740 UT on Oct. 17th. So far, none of the blasts has hurled a substantial CME toward Earth.

TIME TO SEE COMET HARTLEY: For backyard stargazers, the next few nights are the best time to see green Comet 103P/Hartley 2 as it approaches Earth for an 11-million-mile close encounter on Oct. 20th. Set your alarm for the dark hours before dawn, go outside, and look straight up. You will find Hartley 2 not far from the bright star Capella: sky map. Although the comet is barely visible to the unaided eye, it is easy to find in binoculars and looks great through a backyard telescope.

Last night, English astronomer Nick Howes made a two-hour exposure of the comet using the robotic Faulkes North Telescope in Hawaii:

"The tail now appears to be forking," says Howes. "And with a coma wider than 1o, Comet Hartley is now as impressive as Comet Holmes was in 2007, albeit more diffuse."

Indeed, NASA scientists say 103P/Hartley 2 is one of the most active comets they've seen, with a huge atmosphere and copious outgassing from jets in the nucleus. Amateur astronomers are encouraged to monitor the action and submit their images here.

more images: from Tom Jorgenson of Neenah, Wisconsin; from Yandong Hu of Mt. Wawushan, Jiangsu, China; from Rolando Ligustri using a robotic telescope in New Mexico; from Marian Urbaník of Staškov, Slovak republic; from John Chumack of Dayton, Ohio; from Jan Koeman of Kloetinge, the Netherlands; from Jodi and Roy McCullough of Salem Ohio; from Mike Broussard of Maurice, Louisiana; from Mike Holloway of Van Buren, Arkansas; from Norm Klekoda and Al Bell near Grand Rapids, MI; from Doug Zubenel of Monument Rocks, Gove County, Kansas; from Gregg Ruppel of Ellisville, Missouri

GREAT FILAMENT: A vast filament of magnetism is cutting across the sun's southern hemisphere today. Run a finger along the golden-brown line in this extreme UV image from the Solar Dynamics Observatory and your digit will have traveled more than 400,000 km:

A bright 'hot spot' just north of the filament's midpoint is UV radiation from sunspot 1112. The proximity is no coincidence; the filament appears to be rooted in the sunspot below. If the sunspot flares, it could cause the entire structure to erupt.

UPDATE: Yesterday's M3-flare did not destabilize the filament. Stay tuned, however, because sunspot 1112 is growing and more activity is possible in the hours ahead. Readers with solar telescopes are encouraged to monitor developments.

more images: from Michael Borman of Evansville, Indiana; from Angie Marsh of Hereford, UK; from Matt Wastell of Brisbane, Australia; from Jean-Pierre Brahic of Uzès, France; from John Nassr of Baguio, Philippines; from Peter Chappell of GEO, Sierra de Cadiz, Spain

October 2010 Aurora Gallery
[previous Octobers: 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2004, 2003, 2002, 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 October 17, 2010 there were 1155 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Recent & Upcoming Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
2010 TQ19
Oct 8
9.6 LD
37 m
2010 TS19
Oct 10
3.7 LD
31 m
2010 TD54
Oct 12
0.1 LD
7 m
2010 TB54
Oct 13
6.1 LD
19 m
1999 VO6
Oct 14
34.3 LD
1.8 km
2010 TK
Oct 16
4.5 LD
37 m
1998 TU3
Oct 17
69.1 LD
5.2 km
2010 TG19
Oct 22
1.1 LD
70 m
1998 MQ
Oct 23
77.7 LD
1.9 km
2007 RU17
Oct 29
39.2 LD
1.1 km
2003 UV11
Oct 30
5 LD
595 m
3838 Epona
Nov 7
76.8 LD
3.4 km
2005 QY151
Nov 16
77.7 LD
1.3 km
2008 KT
Nov 23
5.6 LD
10 m
2002 EZ16
Nov 30
73.9 LD
1.0 km
2000 JH5
Dec 7
47 LD
1.5 km
2010 JL33
Dec 9
16.6 LD
1.3 km
2008 EA32
Jan 7
76.5 LD
2.1 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
  more links...
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