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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Solar wind
speed: 367.5 km/sec
density: 0.7 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2346 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: B1
1939 UT Nov29
24-hr: B2
1447 UT Nov29
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2300 UT
Daily Sun: 29 Nov 10
New sunspot 1130 is growing rapidly. Credit: SDO/HMI. 2-day movie: 9 MB mpg
Sunspot number: 34
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 28 Nov 2010

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 0 days
2010 total: 45 days (13%)
2009 total: 260 days (71%)
Since 2004: 813 days
Typical Solar Min: 486 days

Updated 28 Nov 2010

The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 80 sfu
explanation | more data
Updated 28 Nov 2010

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: 4.7 nT
Bz: 2.2 nT south
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2346 UT
Coronal Holes: 29 Nov 10
There are no large coronal holes on the Earth-facing side of the sun. Credit: SDO/AIA.
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2010 Nov 29 2200 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 Nov 29 2200 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
15 %
15 %
05 %
05 %
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
20 %
20 %
05 %
05 %
01 %
01 %
Monday, Nov. 29, 2010
What's up in space

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


NEW SUNSPOT: New sunspot 1130 is rapidly developing near the center of the sun's disk and "it is crackling with activity," reports Michael Borman of Evansville, Indiana. Using a backyard solar telescope, he took this picture of a B-class explosion from the active region on Nov. 28th. So far, the flares have been relatively minor, but if the sunspot's growth continues apace, geo-effective blasts could be in the offing.

WEEKEND AURORAS: A gust of solar wind hit Earth's magnetic field on Saturday, Nov. 27th, sparking a brief but intense geomagnetic storm around the Arctic Circle. Onlookers described "an explosion of Northern Lights" and a "huge outburst of auroras" that turned the heavens vivid green. One day later, the sky was still glowing, as shown in this Sunday night snapshot from Kvaløya, an island near Tromsø, Norway:

"We had some clouds," says photographer Frank Olsen, "but I could still see some nice auroras. It was another wonderful night in northern Norway."

The solar wind is subsiding now, and the auroras are fading. NOAA forecasters estimate only a 10% chance of geomagnetic activity during the next 24 hours.

November 2010 Aurora Gallery
[previous Novembers: 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000]

RADAR MOON: The job of the US Air Force Space Survellance Radar in Texas is to monitor the space around Earth for satellites, meteoroids, and space debris. On Nov. 23rd, something much larger passed through the radar's primary beam: the Moon. Using a surplus military antenna and a receiver tuned to the radar's frequency of 216.983 MHz, electrical engineer Pieter Ibelings of Atlanta, Georgia, recorded the echo. Click on the dynamic spectrum to hear the Moon's long, slow ping:

Click to play an audio recording

"I have been looking at objects crossing the radar fence for many years now," says Ibelings. "The nice thing about the Moon is that you can image it." Using the delay-doppler technique, he de-skewed the echo to produce a radar picture: The Moon is a sphere!

"The will be a few more passes this month," he says, "and I plan to be listening." This means there could be more lunar echoes on in the near future, so stay tuned.

BONUS: For hobbyists interested in capturing their own lunar echoes from the Space Surveillance Radar, Ibelings offers the following: "Most of the equipment I use is homebrew, not much different from that used for looking at satellite or meteorite crossings. The reflections from the Moon can be pretty strong using a long yagi and preamplifier. Typically you get three reflections at 216.97, 216.983 and 216.99 MHz as the moon crosses all three transmitters. To calculate the crossing, one looks for the moment of time when the lunar azimuth has the following values at the radar sites: 83.9º at Gila River, AZ; 91.4º at Lake Kickapoo, TX; and 98.1º in Lake Jordan, AL."

  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 November 29, 2010 there were 1164 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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