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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Current conditions
Solar wind
speed: 518.8 km/sec
density: 1.5 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2346 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A0
2340 UT Jun29
24-hr: A0
2340 UT Jun29
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2340 UT
Daily Sun: 29 June 09
The sun is blank--no sunspots. Credit: SOHO/MDI
Sunspot number: 0
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 28 Jun 2009

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 4 days
2009 total: 138 days (77%)
Since 2004: 649 days
Typical Solar Min: 485 days
explanation | more info
Updated 28 Jun 2009

Far side of the Sun:
This holographic image reveals a possible sunspot on the far side of the sun. Check back tomorrow for confirmation. Image credit: SOHO/MDI
Planetary K-index
Now: Kp= 1 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 4
explanation | more data
Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 3.1 nT
Bz: 2.2 nT north
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2347 UT
Coronal Holes:
Earth is inside a solar wind stream flowing from the indicated coronal hole. Credit: SOHO Extreme UV Telescope
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2009 Jun 29 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 Jun 29 2201 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
10 %
10 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
15 %
15 %
05 %
05 %
01 %
01 %
What's up in Space
June 29, 2009

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


SOLAR WIND: A solar wind stream is buffeting Earth's magnetic field, but it is not stirring up geomagnetic storms or auroras. Geomagnetic activity should remain low.

VOLCANIC SUNSETS: People across the USA are reporting unusual sunsets. When the sun goes down, delicate ripples of white appear over the western horizon. Then, as the twilight deepens, the sky turns a telltale shade of "volcanic lavender." Paul Hadfield photographed this example last night, June 28th, from Latham, Illinois:

The source of the phenomenon is probably Russia's Sarychev Peak volcano. It erupted on June 12th, hurling massive plumes of sulfur dioxide (SO2) and other debris into the stratosphere. The white ripples that herald these sunsets are made of volcanic aerosols--a mixture of ash and sulfur compounds. Blue light scattered by fine volcanic aerosols combines with ordinary red sunset rays to produce the telltale lavender.

Earth-orbiting satellites are monitoring Sarychev's sulfur dioxide plume as it circumnavigates the globe at high latitudes, spreading the phenomenon from Russia to the USA to Europe and back again. All northern sky watchers should be alert for volcanic sunsets.

2009 Sarychev Sunset Gallery
[See also: 2008 Kasatochi Sunset Photo Gallery]

MAMMATUS OVER MANHATTAN: "Last Saturday, June 26th, after a summer evening thunderstorm, a bank of spectacular mammatus clouds formed over Manhattan," reports Snehal Patel of New York. "It was an amazing display that looked like large orange cotton balls falling from the sky." He took this picture using an iPhone 3G:

"The most entertaining part of the display was the crowds of people running out of restaurants and lining the streets to catch a glimpse!"

Mammatus clouds, named for their resemblance to a cow's underbelly, sometimes appear at the end of severe thunderstorms when the thundercloud is breaking up. Researchers have called them an "intriguing enigma," because no one knows exactly how and why they form. The clouds are fairly common but often go unnoticed because potential observers have been chased indoors by the rain. If you are one of them, dash outside when the downpour stops; you could witness a beautiful mystery in the sky.

more images: from Chris Moy of New York City; from Jim and Wendy Scott of Fleetwood, Pennsylvania; from Alex Barnard of New York City; from Marilyn Stern of Manhattan, New York City; from Terry Pundiak of Palmer Township, PA; from Martin Popek of Nýdek, Bystřice nad olší, Czech republic; from Dan Linek of Brentwood, New York;

2009 Noctilucent Photo Gallery
[previous years: 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004, 2003]

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 June 29, 2009 there were 1065 potentially hazardous asteroids.
June 2009 Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
2009 KR21
June 1
0.7 LD
21 m
2009 KL8
June 1
5.1 LD
63 m
2003 QO104
June 9
36.8 LD
2.9 km
1994 CC
June 10
6.6 LD
1.2 km
2009 MU
June 24
2.3 LD
54 m
2001 FE90
June 28
7.0 LD
435 m
2002 KL6
June 28
57.5 LD
1.4 km
2006 MV1
June 30
9.6 LD
20 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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