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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Solar wind
speed: 359.2 km/sec
density: 1.6 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2342 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: C1
1712 UT Oct30
24-hr: C2
0939 UT Oct30
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2300 UT
Daily Sun: 30 Oct 11
A new sunspot is emerging at the circled location. Credit: SDO/HMI
Sunspot number: 73
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 29 Oct 2011

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

Updated 29 Oct 2011

The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 123 sfu
explanation | more data
Updated 29 Oct 2011

Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
Planetary K-index
Now: Kp= 1 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 3
explanation | more data
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 7.5 nT
Bz: 6.6 nT south
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2345 UT
Coronal Holes: 29 Oct 11
A solar wind stream flowing from the indicated coronal hole could brush past Earth on Oct. 30-31. Credit: SDO/AIA.
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2011 Oct 30 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: 2011 Oct 30 2200 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
35 %
10 %
10 %
05 %
05 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
40 %
20 %
25 %
15 %
15 %
05 %
Sunday, Oct. 30, 2011
What's up in space

They came from outer space--and you can have one! Genuine meteorites are now on sale in the Space Weather Store.

Own your own meteorite

QUIET WEEKEND: Solar activity remains low despite sunspot 1330's magnetic potential for M-class solar flares. A slow-moving CME billowed away from the sun's northeastern limb during the early hours of Oct. 30th: movie. The cloud is not, however, heading for Earth.

SPOOKY AURORAS: Some observers are calling it the "almost-Halloween storm." Blood red auroras that filled the skies over parts of the United States and Europe on Oct. 24-25 were certainly spooky. Indeed, veteran photographer Mike Hollingshead of Blair, Nebraska, felt the best place to capture the display was from a graveyard:

"At first the auroras seemed ordinary--that is, until the 'red surge madness' began," says Hollingshead. "Crazy bright shrouds of red light danced behind the head stones for 15 minutes." Other observers saw ghostly forms, moody trees, green phantasms, and more disturbing shades of red. Could Halloween itself be any more frightening?

Trick or treaters in Alaska, Canada and Scandinavia are about to find out. NOAA forecasters estimate a 15% to 25% chance of polar geomagnetic storms on Oct. 30-31 when a solar wind stream is expected to brush against Earth's magnetic field. High-latitude sky watchers should be alert for spooky lights. Aurora alerts: text, voice.

October 2011 Aurora Gallery
[previous Octobers: 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2004, 2003, 2002]

DOUBLE SATELLITE FLYBY: To catch one satellite having a close encounter with a distant star requires careful timing and a degree of luck. Last night, Oct. 28th, Kevin Fetter of Brockville, Ontario, did it twice. Play the movie to watch two spacecraft criss-cross Regulus in the constellation Leo:

The first satellite was SkyMed-2, part of a constellation of Earth observing satellites deployed by the Italian Space Agency. SkyMed satellites are remarkable because they sometimes flare like Iridiums.

The second, brighter satellite in the video is Tiangong 1, China's new space station. The 8.5-ton module was launched on Sept. 29th on a two-year training mission. Chinese spacecraft and taikonauts will be visiting Tiangong 1 in the months ahead to practice rendezvous and docking maneuvers, to exercise space construction techniques, and to learn to live onboard an orbiting outpost. An unmanned probe, the Shenzhou 8, is due to launch on Nov 1st for China's first remote docking exercise.

This means more double flybys are in the offing. Sighting times for Tiangong 1 and companions are available from's Satellite Tracker. Your smartphone can tell you when to look, too.

  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 30, 2011 there were 1256 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Recent & Upcoming Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
2011 UL169
Oct 26
0.7 LD
10 m
2011 UC190
Oct 26
1.8 LD
28 m
2011 FZ2
Nov 7
75.9 LD
1.6 km
2005 YU55
Nov 8
0.8 LD
200 m
2011 UT91
Nov 15
9.9 LD
103 m
1994 CK1
Nov 16
68.8 LD
1.5 km
1996 FG3
Nov 23
39.5 LD
1.1 km
2003 WM7
Dec 9
47.6 LD
1.6 km
1999 XP35
Dec 20
77.5 LD
1.0 km
2000 YA
Dec 26
2.9 LD
80 m
2011 SL102
Dec 28
75.9 LD
1.1 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
Conquest Graphics
  for out-of-this-world printing and graphics
Trade Show Displays
  more links...
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