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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Solar wind
speed: 273.5 km/sec
density: 1.1 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2345 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: B3
1746 UT Oct29
24-hr: B6
0302 UT Oct29
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2300 UT
Daily Sun: 29 Oct 12
None of these sunspots is actively flaring. Solar activity is low. Credit: SDO/HMI
Sunspot number: 55
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 29 Oct 2012

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 0 days
2012 total: 0 days (0%)
2011 total: 2 days (<1%)
2010 total: 51 days (14%)
2009 total: 260 days (71%)
Since 2004: 821 days
Typical Solar Min: 486 days

Update 29 Oct 2012

The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 117 sfu
explanation | more data
Updated 29 Oct 2012

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: 3.4 nT
Bz: 1.6 nT south
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2346 UT
Coronal Holes: 29 Oct 12
There are no large coronal holes on the Earthside of the sun. Credit: SDO/AIA.
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2012 Oct 29 2200 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
15 %
15 %
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: 2012 Oct 29 2200 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
05 %
25 %
01 %
10 %
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
15 %
10 %
10 %
20 %
05 %
35 %
Monday, Oct. 29, 2012
What's up in space

Metallic photos of the sun by renowned photographer Greg Piepol bring together the best of art and science. Buy one or a whole set. They make a stellar gift.

Metallic pictures of the Sun

HUNTER'S MOON: There' a full Moon tonight, and according to folklore it has a special name: the Hunter's Moon. Some native American tribes gave it that name to mark the autumn hunts that topped off their food supplies for the coming winter. Think of that when the bright orb rises tonight, and enjoy the Hunter's moonlight.

SUPERSTORM SANDY: Anyone who doubts the value of space exploration should watch this video of hurricane Sandy approaching the east coast of the United States on Oct. 26-28. Without weather satellites and space-age sensors, residents in the storm's path wouldn't know what was coming until the storm surge arrived.

NASA's fleet of Earth-observing satellites is doing more, however, than just tracking the storm. It is collecting valuable scientific data on Sandy's inner workings:

This graphic shows the structure of Sandy's eye illuminated on Oct. 28th by a radar onboard the TRMM (Tropical Rainfall Measurement Mission) satellite. TRMM will continue to monitor the organization of the eye as Sandy merges with a cold front to become a deadly superstorm. Data from TRMM and other satellites will help forecasters anticipate future storms even more accurately than Sandy.

Check NOAA's Storm Center for updated information about the storm. And good luck to anyone in Sandy's path.

SLOW ERUPTION: The magnetic canopy of a sunspot group just over the sun's southwestern limb slowly erupted on Oct. 28th. When the hours-long eruption was over, this bright arcade formed over the blast site, marking the location where the explosion occured:

Arcade loops appear after many solar flares. It is how the magnetic fields of sunspots settle down after a significant eruption. This particular eruption hurled a massive CME into space, but Earth was not in the line of fire. As the movie shows, the explosion was photogenic, but not geoeffective. Solar flare alerts: text, voice.

Realtime Space Weather Photo Gallery

A COMET IN TROUBLE? Amateur astronomers have been keeping a close eye on Comet 168P/Hergenrother since October 1st when it suddenly brightened 500-fold, from 15th to 8th magnitude. At the time, the comet was making its closest approach to the sun (1.4 AU). Some observers speculated that solar heating caused the fragile comet to break apart. On Oct. 26th, a group of astronomers found evidence to support this idea. "Using the Faulkes North (F65) telescope," writes Ernesto Guido et al., "we detected a fragmentation in Comet 168P."

"Our images, taken on Oct. 26th, reveal the presence of a secondary nucleus, or fragment, about two arcseconds away from the main central condensation of comet 168P." This is probably a chunk of rocky ice emerging from the haze of gas and dust that surrounds the main nucleus, still hidden inside. Comets are notoriously fragile, so its no surprise that Comet 168P/Hergenrother is breaking apart in this way.

The only question is, what happens next? Will the comet spit in two, with two heads and two tails, one tracking the fragment and the other tracking the parent? Or is this the prelude to a more complete disintegration? Amateur astronomers are encouraged to monitor developments while the comet remains bright enough to see through backyard telescopes. Here are the comet's coordinates. For best results, we recommend the Comet Hunter Telescope.

Realtime Comet Photo Gallery

Realtime Aurora Photo Gallery

Realtime Noctilucent Cloud Photo Gallery
[previous years: 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011]

  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, 2012 there were 1343 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Recent & Upcoming Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
1991 VE
Oct 26
34 LD
1.1 km
2012 UK171
Oct 27
7.4 LD
55 m
2012 UW9
Oct 29
9.4 LD
31 m
2012 UU169
Oct 29
3 LD
32 m
2001 CV26
Oct 30
68 LD
2.4 km
2012 UL171
Nov 3
7.6 LD
17 m
2012 UX136
Nov 4
2.7 LD
42 m
2007 PA8
Nov 5
16.8 LD
2.4 km
2012 UV136
Nov 10
5.8 LD
33 m
2012 UY68
Nov 14
6.7 LD
42 m
2010 JK1
Nov 25
9.3 LD
56 m
2009 LS
Nov 28
55.2 LD
1.1 km
2009 BS5
Dec 11
8.4 LD
15 m
4179 Toutatis
Dec 12
18 LD
2.7 km
2003 SD220
Dec 23
59.8 LD
1.8 km
1998 WT24
Dec 23
69.2 LD
1.1 km
2003 UC20
Dec 29
25.7 LD
1.0 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
Space Weather Alerts
  more links...
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