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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Solar wind
speed: 339.6 km/sec
density: 0.1 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2344 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: B1
2340 UT Oct29
24-hr: B3
0535 UT Oct29
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2340 UT
Daily Sun: 29 Oct 10
Sunspot 1117 is turning away from Earth, decreasing chances of a geoeffective eruption. Credit: SOHO/MDI. 2-day movie: 8 MB mpg
Sunspot number: 27
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 28 Oct 2010

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 0 days
2010 total: 45 days (15%)
2009 total: 260 days (71%)
Since 2004: 813 days
Typical Solar Min: 486 days

Updated 28 Oct 2010

The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 86 sfu
explanation | more data
Updated 28 Oct 2010

Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
Planetary K-index
Now: Kp= 0 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 2
explanation | more data
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 3.5 nT
Bz: 0.1 nT north
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2345 UT
Coronal Holes: 29 Oct 10
There are no large coronal holes on the Earth-facing side of the sun. Credit: SDO/AIA.
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2010 Oct 29 2200 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
10 %
10 %
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 29 2200 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
05 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
05 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
Friday, Oct. 29, 2010
What's up in space

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


SUNSPOT MOVIE: A new movie from NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory shows behemoth sunspot 1117 growing and shape-shifting between Oct. 25th and 27th. Transmogrify!

ASTEROID FLYBY: Asteroid 2003 UV11 is about to fly past Earth. At closest approach on Oct. 29th and 30th, it will be only 1.2 million miles away, about five times the distance to the Moon. Experienced amateur astronomers should have little trouble photographing the 600-meter wide space rock as it glides through the constellation Pegasus on Friday night glowing about as brightly as a 12th magnitude star. NASA's Goldstone and Arecibo radars are pinging the asteroid as it passes to study its shape and trajectory. Stay tuned for updates. [images: #1, #2, #3] [ephemeris] [3D orbit]

SUNSPOT SUNRISE: Sunspot 1117 is now so large, it can be seen without the aid of a solar telescope. Mohamad Soltanolkottabi "spotted it" this morning when the sun was rising over Esfahan, Iran:

"I took this photo while climbing up Sofe mountain," says Soltanolkottabi. "It was a good way to start the day."

Although the sunspot is big--its primary core is four times wider than Earth--it is also quiet. The sunspot's magnetic field has relaxed into an uncomplicated state that seems to pose little threat for solar flares. There is, however, a high probability of photo-ops. Stay tuned.

more images: from Francois Rouviere of Mougins, France; from Matt Wastell of Brisbane, Australia; from Rogerio Marcon of Campinas SP Brasil; from John Chumack of Dayton, Ohio;

GIANT SUN TWISTER: On Oct. 27th and 28th, a twisted filament of magnetism on the sun decided to untwist. The result was a spectacular eruption recorded in full-disk detail by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory:

Movie formats: 8 MB gif, 3 MB gif, 1.7 MB iPad, 0.7 MB iPhone

At its peak, the twister--or rather, untwister--towered more than 350,000 km above the stellar surface. It appears to have hurled a fragment of itself into space, but not toward Earth; the blast was not geoeffective.

Now that the filament has relaxed, it is unlikely to erupt again. The next blast is more likely to come from big sunspot 1117, which NOAA forecasters say could produce an M-class solar flare. Readers with solar telescopes are encouraged to monitor developments.

CRESCENT PLANET: This week, Venus is passing almost directly between Earth and the sun, an event astronomers call "inferior conjunction." As Venus turns its night side toward us, we can see only the thinnest sliver of the planet's atmosphere illuminated by sunlight. Venus has become a slender crescent.

On Oct. 24th, G√ľnther Strauch peered through a 4-inch refracting telescope and witnessed the crescent planet shimmering through clouds over Borken, Germany.

Click to view the full-length movie

"Wow, what a nice view!" says Strauch. "I had to be very careful because Venus was only 10 degrees from the sun. Furthermore, it was not easy to find the planet because of the clouds, but the final result was worth the effort."

Venus is even closer to the sun now, making sightings truly perilous. Fortunately, a coronagraph onboard the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory is able to block the sun's glare and monitor the conjunction in progress. Click here for the latest; Venus is the super-bright object just below the sun.

more images: from Joe Ricci of Rochester, New York; from Henry Mendt of Maracaibo, Venezuela

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 29, 2010 there were 1157 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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