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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Current conditions
Solar wind
speed: 330.1 km/sec
density: 3.6 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2345 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: B1
2220 UT Jan27
24-hr: B4
0020 UT Jan27
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2340 UT
Daily Sun: 27 Jan. 10
Decaying sunspot 1041 poses no threat for strong solar flares. Image credit: SOHO/MDI
Sunspot number: 28
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 26 Jan 2010

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 0 days
2010 total: 2 days (8%)
2009 total: 260 days (71%)
Since 2004: 772 days
Typical Solar Min: 485 days
explanation | more info
Updated 26 Jan 2010

The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 80 sfu
explanation | more data
Updated 26 Jan 2010

Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
Planetary K-index
Now: Kp= 0 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 1
explanation | more data
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 6.0 nT
Bz: 1.2 nT north
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2346 UT
Coronal Holes:
A solar wind stream flowing from the indicated minor coronal hole should reach Earth on or about Jan. 31st. Credit: SOHO Extreme UV Telescope
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2010 Jan 27 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: 2010 Jan 27 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
January 27, 2010

SATELLITE FLYBYS APP: Turn your iPhone or iPod into a field-tested satellite tracker! presents the Satellite Flybys app.


STRATOSPHERIC CLOUD ALERT: On the evening on Jan. 26th, sky watchers in parts of England and the Netherlands witnessed unusually colorful sunsets and prolonged twilights. Atmospheric optics expert Les Cowley believes that "we are experiencing an episode of Polar Stratospheric Clouds (Type 1) as a result of unusually low stratospheric temperatures. I saw them myself." High-latitude sky watchers should be alert for these clouds at sunrise and sunset in the days ahead.

CLOSE ENCOUNTER WITH MARS: Tonight, a few hours after sunset, go outside and look east. That bright orange star hanging halfway up the sky is Mars having a close encounter with Earth. The Red Planet is only 99 million km away and looks bigger through a telescope than at anytime between 2008 and 2014. Here it is posing for Doug Zubenel's 12.5-inch "PlanetCatcher" in Kansas:

"The view through the eyepiece was very nice," says Zubenel. "The northern polar cap and Aurorae Sinus (a dark feature in the southern hemisphere of Mars) were easily seen at 488X magnification."

Browse the links for more views through the eyepiece: from Mike Hood of Kathleen, Georgia; from John Nassr of Baguio, Philippines; from Jacob Bass√łe of Copenhegen, Denmark; from Alan Friedman of Buffalo, NY; from Sadegh Ghomizadeh of Tehran, Iran;

MINOR METEOR OUTBURST: On the night of Jan. 20/21, a network of video cameras operated by amateur astronomers in Finland caught a flurry of meteors emerging from Ursa Minor, the Little Dipper. No bright displays were expected that evening and, at first, astronomers weren't sure what they had seen. "Then Esko Lyytinen realized it was the gamma Ursae Minorids--a recently discovered 'minor shower' that wasn't supposed to be so bright," says Peter Jenniskens of the SETI Institute in California. This sky map shows the meteor trails recorded by the video network:

Image courtesy Esko Lyytinen and Peter Jenniskens

Gamma Ursae Minorids are traced in blue. "Note how the blue lines converge near a single radiant point," says Jenniskens. Inset is an actual meteor captured by one of the cameras.

The shower has attracted attention before. It was discovered by Peter Brown and coworkers at the University of Western Ontario, who have recorded gamma Ursae Minorid echoes for the past five years using the Canadian Meteor Orbit Radar (CMOR). But until now, the meteors were invisibly faint. According to Jenniskens, 2010 marks the first bright outburst that could be seen with the unaided eye.

"The source of this shower has not been identified," says Jenniskens. "It is probably a short-period comet passing not far from Jupiter. The 11-day duration of the gamma Ursae Minorids [in radar records] suggests that some significant breakup occurred not too long ago and the comet may now be hiding among the high inclination (i = 48.5 deg.) near-Earth asteroid population."

Will this brightening shower make an even bigger splash next year? No one knows, but Jenniskens plans to mark his calendar for Jan. 20, 2011: Don't forget the gamma Ursae Minorids.

January Northern Lights Gallery
[previous Januarys: 2009, 2008, 2007, 2005, 2004, 2001]

Solar Eclipse Photo Gallery
[World Map of Eclipse Sightings]

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 27, 2010 there were 1094 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Jan. 2010 Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
2010 AL2
Jan. 11
11.5 LD
23 m
24761 Ahau
Jan. 11
70.8 LD
1.4 km
2000 YH66
Jan. 12
69.5 LD
1.1 km
2010 AL30
Jan. 13
0.3 LD
18 m
2010 AG3
Jan. 19
8.9 LD
14 m
2010 AN61
Jan. 19
8.0 LD
17 m
2010 AF40
Jan. 21
2.3 LD
43 m
2010 BC
Jan. 24
7.6 LD
160 m
2010 BU2
Jan. 27
6.4 LD
52 m
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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