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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Current conditions
Solar wind
speed: 453.7 km/sec
density: 2.7 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2347 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A0
1810 UT Jun30
24-hr: A0
1810 UT Jun30
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2340 UT
Daily Sun: 30 June 09
A new sunspot is forming in the circled region. 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= 2 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 2
explanation | more data
Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 2.2 nT
Bz: 0.3 nT south
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 30 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 30 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 30, 2009

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


NEW SUNSPOT: Observers are reporting a new sunspot forming near the sun's southeastern limb. It appears to be a member of Solar Cycle 24. images: #1, #2.

VOLCANIC SUNSETS: People across the USA (and now parts of Europe) 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." Steven Hallgren photographed this example last night, June 29th, from of Coeur d'Alene, Idaho:

"With all the talk of volcanic sunsets, I had to take a look for myself," says Hallgren. "The purple was out in full force."

The source of the phenomenon is 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.

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

TAPETUM LUCIDUM: Robert Smith of Stoneville, North Carolina, went outside last night to look for volcanic sunset colors. "I fired my flash at the landscape," he says, "and there were two bright eyes staring back at me!" It was a fox:

"Just look at those reflections," he says.

The eyes of foxes reflect light using an organic mirror called the tapetum lucidum. The tapetum is a layer of shiny tissue at the back of the retina. It increases the sensitivity of the eye. Photoreceptors get two chances to "see the light"--once on the way in and once again on the way back out. Creatures that hunt at night usually have a tapetum; creatures that sleep at night (e.g., humans) usually do not.

Astronomers really wish they had one! At least we can see the fox.

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 30, 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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