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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Current conditions
Solar wind
speed: 458.1 km/sec
density: 2.4 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2246 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A0
2245 UT Jun16
24-hr: A0
0440 UT Jun16
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2245 UT
Daily Sun: 16 June 07
The sun is blank--no sunspots. Credit: SOHO/MDI
Sunspot number: 0
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 15 June 2007
Far side of the Sun:
This holographic image reveals no sunspots on the farside of the sun. Image credit: SOHO/MDI
Planetary K-index
Now: Kp= 2 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 3
explanation | more data
Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
Updated: 2007 Jun 16 2116 UT
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 3.9 nT
Bz: 0.6 nT north
explanation | more data
Updated:Today at 2246 UT
Coronal Holes:
A solar wind stream flowing from the indicated coronal hole should reach Earth on or about June 21st. Credit: SOHO Extreme Ultraviolet Telescope
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2007 Jun 16 2203 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: 2007 Jun 16 2203 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
15 %
15 %
10 %
10 %
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
20 %
20 %
15 %
15 %
05 %
05 %
What's up in Space
June 16, 2007
Father's Day is tomorrow. Skip the tie and give him the stars: SpaceWeather PHONE.

NLC ALERT: Last night, a brilliant display of noctilucent clouds (NLCs) swept across Europe descending as far south as France. This marks the second time in a week that intense NLCs have appeared, and sky watchers should be alert for more in the nights ahead. Favored viewing sites include Europe, Canada and northern-tier US states--the same places where auroras are often seen. Go outside after sunset and look west. If you see electric-blue tendrils spreading upward from the horizon, you've spotted a noctilucent cloud: gallery.

IRANIAN MYSTERY CLOUD: On June 15th, sky watchers around Iran witnessed a strange and luminous cloud in the night sky. "I have never experienced a similar phenomena," reports veteran astronomer Babak A. Tafreshi of Tehran. Observing alongside two other astronomers, Oshin Zakarian and Pouria Nazemi, he took this picture:

Photo details: Canon 350D, 28mm, ISO 800, f4, 35s.

"The object started out patchy, shapeless and dim; it quickly brightened and formed a blue-tinted cone with a nose of magnitude -2 or -3," he says. The cloud raced across the sky "moving about 20 degrees per minute." More images: #1, #2, #3, #4, #5, #6.

"It was shining blue and moving fast," agrees Amir Hossein Abolfath, another witness from Tehran, who snapped this picture. "Twenty minutes after I saw it, my friend Asghar Kabiri saw the same cloud 900 km away from Tehran in Sa'adat shahr."

Mystery solved? The following explanation is probably correct, but uncertain because of the classified nature of yesterday's rocket launch:

On June 15th at 11:12 am EDT, an Atlas V rocket launched from Cape Canaveral; its payload was a pair of National Reconnaissance Office ocean surveillance satellites. After the satellites were deployed--into the wrong orbit, according to media reports--the rocket's malfunctioning Centaur upper stage vented excess fuel, producing the Iranian cloud. The dumping of excess fuel is standard practice for Centaur-boosted launches, and this event is probably unrelated to the Centaur's reported malfunction.

ASTEROID VESTA: Asteroids are much smaller than planets, which makes them exceedingly difficult to photograph. Nevertheless, using only an 11-inch Celestron telescope, Christopher Go of the Philippines managed to capture asteroid Vesta tumbling through space on June 2nd, 4th and 5th:

"It's been frustrating, trying to image such a small object," says Go. "As seen from Earth, Vesta is only 0.6 arcseconds wide. Perfect seeing was required."

When NASA's Dawn spacecraft reaches Vesta in 2011, it will send back the first detailed images of this fascinating asteroid's surface. Photos taken by the Hubble Space Telescope hint that Vesta may be covered with ancient lava flows and magma seas much like our own Moon. These features are thought to be due, in part, to a nearby supernova billions of years ago: full story.

Want to see Vesta yourself? It is a speck, barely visible to the naked eye in the constellation Scorpius. Look south at midnight: sky map.

2007 Noctilucent Photo Gallery
[Listen!] [Night-sky Cameras]

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 16, 2007 there were 869 potentially hazardous asteroids.
June-July 2007 Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
2005 AD13
June 18
33 LD
1.2 km
2007 FV42
July 2
53 LD
1.2 km
2007 DT103
July 29
9.3 LD
550 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 Environment Center
  The official U.S. government bureau for real-time monitoring of solar and geophysical events, research in solar-terrestrial physics, and forecasting solar and geophysical disturbances.
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.
Daily Sunspot Summaries
  From the NOAA Space Environment Center
Current Solar Images
  from the National Solar Data Analysis Center
  more links...
©2007, -- This site is penned daily by Dr. Tony Phillips.
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