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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Current conditions
Solar wind
speed: 471.2 km/sec
density: 2.8 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2346 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A0
2340 UT Jan19
24-hr: A0
0610 UT Jan19
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2340 UT
Daily Sun: 19 Jan 09
A new sunspot is emerging inside the circle region--and it is a strange one. The low latitude of the spot suggests it is a member of old Solar Cycle 23, yet the magnetic polarity of the spot is ambiguous, identifying it with neither old Solar Cycle 23 nor new Solar Cycle 24. Stay tuned for updates as the sunspot grows. Credit: SOHO/MDI

more images: from Pavol Rapavy of Rimavska Sobota, Slovakia
Sunspot number: 11
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 19 Jan. 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= 2 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 4
explanation | more data
Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
What is the auroral oval?
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 2.8 nT
Bz: 1.8 nT south
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2347 UT
Coronal Holes: d
Earth is inside a solar wind stream flowing from the indicated coronal hole. Credit: SOHO Extreme UV Telescope
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2009 Jan 19 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 Jan 19 2201 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
10 %
05 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
15 %
10 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
What's up in Space
January 19, 2009

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


SOLAR ACTIVITY: Amateur astronomers around the world are monitoring a lively prominence on the sun's northeastern limb. If you have a solar telescope, take a look. Images: #1, #2, #3, #4.

SCANDINAVIAN FIREBALL: A meteoroid of unknown size hit Earth's atmosphere over Scandinavia on Jan. 17th (1909 UT) and disintegrated in a thunderous explosion. The fireball was so bright it turned the nighttime sky blue:

Click to view the movie

The movie above was recorded by an automated video camera belonging to Roger Svensson in Sweden.

Jacob Kuiper of the Dutch National Weather Service says the phones at his offices were ringing off the hook. "The Dutch Coast Guard has been overwhelmed with eyewitness reports, sometimes 20 phone calls in a few minutes." Observers reporting to the Danish astronomy web site Astronomibladet say the fireball's brightness exceeded that of a full Moon; early evening drivers "could not help noticing it, despite being blinded by the opposite traffic."

Jan. 17th Fireball Sighting Reports

ICE FLOWERS: Temperatures across much of the United States have plunged to record-low levels. It's so cold, ice flowers are sprouting from the ground:

"When I went out to get firewood on the morning of Jan. 16th, I noticed these little luminous beings of ice scattered all around our yard," says photographer Chyenne M. Star of Edgemont, Arkansas. "I have never seen them before - or anywhere in our area."

Scientists have been studying the ice flower phenomenon for almost two hundred years. Botanists, physicists, geologists--all have puzzled over the fragile ribbons of ice that wrap themselves around the stems of some plants during winter. Over time, the following consensus has emerged: Liquid water from deep soil flows up into the stems. Linear cracks in the stems expose the water to freezing air. Water turns to ice, and the ice extrudes from the cracks in thin sheets: movie.

"It is one of those gifts in the middle of Winter that really surprises us," says Star. Could more surprises be in the offing? The chill continues....

more images: from Brian Emfinger of Ozark, Arkansas; from Richard Reinking of Greenfield, Massachusetts;

Comet Lulin Photo Gallery
[sky map] [Comet Hunter Telescope]

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 January 19, 2009 there were 1017 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Jan. 2009 Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
2008 YC29
Jan. 2
3.4 LD
35 m
2008 YY32
Jan. 3
6.2 LD
40 m
2008 YG30
Jan. 4
3.6 LD
50 m
2008 YV32
Jan. 9
2.7 LD
25 m
2008 YF29
Jan. 11
9.7 LD
65 m
2002 AO11
Jan. 15
7.7 LD
120 m
1998 CS1
Jan. 17
11 LD
1.3 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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