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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Current conditions
Solar wind
speed: 434.1 km/sec
density: 2.6 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2346 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A0
2340 UT Jan04
24-hr: A0
2340 UT Jan04
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2340 UT
Daily Sun: 04 Jan 09
The sun is blank--no sunspots. Credit: SOHO/MDI
Sunspot number: 0
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 02 Jan. 2009
Far side of the Sun:
This holographic image reveals no sunspots on the far side of the sun. Image credit: SOHO/MDI
Planetary K-index
Now: Kp= 1 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 2
explanation | more data
Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
What is the auroral oval?
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 3.5 nT
Bz: 0.4 nT south
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2347 UT
Coronal Holes:
There are no large coronal holes on the Earth-facing side of the sun. Credit: SOHO Extreme UV Telescope
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2009 Jan 04 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 Jan 04 2201 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
01 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
01 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
What's up in Space
January 4, 2009

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


SOLAR CYCLE UPDATE: Final sunspot counts for the year 2008 are now available and the numbers are very low. The sun was utterly blank--that is, it had no sunspots whatsoever--on 266 days last year. That makes 2008 a century-class year in terms of low sunspot numbers. To find a year with more blank suns, you have to go all the way back to 1913, which had 311 spotless days. Now for the good news: Evidence is mounting that the deep solar minimum of 2008 is coming to an end; we can expect a livelier sun in 2009.

QUADRANTID RECAP: Saturday's Quadrantid meteor shower was even better than expected. "It was an awesome spectacle, showering us with meteors faster than we could count," reports Jodie Reynolds of Placerville, California. In Bow Valley, Alberta, photographer Yuichi Takasaka caught two of them streaking through the aurora borealis over Castle Mountain:

"It was cold outside, -28 C, but well worth the trip to the mountains," says Takasaka. "I saw 50+ meteors and some nice Northern Lights."

According to the International Meteor Organization, the shower produced a maximum of 145 meteors per hour around 1300 UT on Jan. 3rd: data. The timing favored observers in North America, but the peak was broad enough to give observers around the world at least a glimpse of the display. Browse the gallery for more:

UPDATED: Quadrantid Meteor Gallery
[Listen to the meteor radar!]

STRANGE DIP: "The last night of 2008 was exceptionally clear here in southwestern Turkey, thanks to cold and strong northerly winds," says Tunç Tezel of Kumluova, Fethiye. "I watched the Moon and Venus take a strange dip into the Mediterranean. They were heavily distorted by air layers above the sea."

Click on the image to set the scene in motion:

Play the movie

"Venus became double, and the Moon looked even more strange," he says. "After the bright crescent finally went down, Earthshine remained for more than another minute. I lost sight of the faint glow before it actually disappeared, but my camera (a Canon 5D) caught the Earthshine sinking beneath the waves."

more images: from Sam Cole of Austin, Texas; from Pete Lawrence of Selsey, West Sussex, UK

Jan. 2009 Aurora Gallery
[Previous Januaries: 2008, 2007, 2005, 2004, 2001]

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 January 4, 2009 there were 1014 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Jan. 2009 Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
2008 YC29
Jan. 2
3.4 LD
35 m
2008 YY32
Jan. 3
6.2 LD
40 m
2008 YG30
Jan. 4
3.6 LD
50 m
2008 YV32
Jan. 9
2.7 LD
25 m
2008 YF29
Jan. 11
9.7 LD
65 m
2002 AO11
Jan. 15
7.7 LD
120 m
1998 CS1
Jan. 17
11 LD
1.3 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 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
  a one-stop hub for all things scientific
  more links...
©2008, -- This site is penned daily by Dr. Tony Phillips.
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