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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Solar wind
speed: 298.0 km/sec
density: 0.2 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2254 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: C2
1917 UT Oct22
24-hr: M1
1110 UT Oct22
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2300 UT
Daily Sun: 22 Oct 11
A big new sunspot emerging over the sun's eastern limb (circled) increases the chances for M-class flares today. Credit: SDO/HMI

more images: from Dennis Put of Brielle, The Netherlands; from Jo Dahlmans of Ulestraten The Netherlands
Sunspot number: 207
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 21 Oct 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 21 Oct 2011

The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 168 sfu
explanation | more data
Updated 21 Oct 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: 6.2 nT
Bz: 1.4 nT north
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2344 UT
Coronal Holes: 21 Oct 11
There are no large coronal holes on the Earthside of the sun. Credit: SDO/AIA.
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2011 Oct 22 2200 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
60 %
55 %
10 %
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 Oct 22 2200 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 %
Saturday, Oct. 22, 2011
What's up in space

They came from outer space--and you can have one! Genuine meteorites are now on sale in the Space Weather Store.

Own your own meteorite

WATCH OUT MARS: A significant CME blasted off the sun today, Oct. 22nd, around 1100 UT. Analysts at the Goddard Space Weather Lab say the cloud is heading for Mars, due to hit the Red Planet on Oct. 26th. [CME: movie, forecast track]

WEEKEND METEOR SHOWER: Today Earth is passing throught a stream of debris from Halley's comet, source of the annual Orionid meteor shower. Forecasters expect the shower to peak on Saturday, Oct. 22nd, with ~15 to 20 meteors per hour. Meteor counts by international observers confirm that the shower is underway. The best time to look is during the hours before sunrise. If the sun is already up where you live, however, you can listen to the shower on SpaceWeather Radio.

Mark Staples of Waldo, Florida, woke at 3 am to see the show and he caught this bright Orionid shining through fog over Little Lake Santa Fe:

"I saw many Orionids despite the blanket of fog over the warm swamp," he says. "They were all over the sky. I managed to catch this one using a wide angle lens."

more photos: from Pete Lawrence of Selsey, West Sussex, UK; from Olivier Staiger of Crans-Montana in the Swiss Alps; from Brian Emfinger of Ozark, Arkansas, USA; from Monika Landy-Gyebnar of Veszprem, Hungary; from Antti Pietikäinen of Muonio, Lapland, Finland;

LAST-CHANCE SIGHTINGS OF ROSAT: The massive ROSAT X-ray space telescope is making its final spiralling orbits around Earth. Most experts agree that re-entry will occur during the early hours of Oct. 23rd over a still-unknown region of our planet. Meanwhile, the satellite can still be seen slicing brightly through the night sky. On Oct. 20th, Dennis Mammana photographed it from Borrego Springs, California:

"Farewell ROSAT!" says Mammana. "The Röntgen Satellite moved quite fast as it made one its final visible passes over Southern California's Anza-Borrego Desert. I caught it on its way into Earth's shadow using a Nikon D700 digital camera."

Although Mammana noted that satellite was faint, others have seen it glowing more brightly than a first magnitude star. Derek Breit of Morgan Hill, California, witnessed a brilliant flare on Oct 18th, which he recorded in this 14 MB video. The increase in brightness was probably caused by sunlight glinting off one of ROSAT's flat surfaces.

Want to see ROSAT one last time? Check Spaceweather's Satellite Tracker for flyby times. You can also turn your smartphone into a field-tested ROSAT tracker.

According to the DLR (the German space agency), which operated the observatory while it was active in the 1990s, as many as 30 pieces of debris could reach Earth's surface. Of particular concern is the telescope's heat-resistant mirror assembly — 1.6 metric tons in all — which could hit the ground intact at hundreds of miles per hour. Odds favor an ocean splashdown or a land impact in sparsely inhabited wilderness.

ROSAT images: from David Harvey of Tucson, Arizona USA; from David Smoyer of Truckee, CA; from Jim Turney of Cold Springs Valley, Nevada, USA; from James Beauchamp of Oklahoma City, OK; from Thierry Legault of Paris, France; from Dewey Vanderhoff of Cody, Wyoming , USA; from Olivier Staiger of Crans-Montana Switzerland;

September 2011 Aurora Gallery
[previous Septembers: 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004]

  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 22, 2011 there were 1256 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Recent & Upcoming Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
2011 UL10
Oct 21
3.5 LD
39 m
2011 UH10
Oct 24
9.6 LD
17 m
2011 FZ2
Nov 7
75.9 LD
1.6 km
2005 YU55
Nov 8
0.8 LD
200 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
1.5 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
Conquest Graphics
  for out-of-this-world printing and graphics
Trade Show Displays
  more links...
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