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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Current conditions
Solar wind
speed: 554.4 km/sec
density: 0.6 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2344 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A5
1805 UT Apr06
24-hr: B1
0400 UT Apr06
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2340 UT
Daily Sun: 06 Apr. 10
New sunspot 1061 is rapidly growing, more than quadrupling in size during the past 24 hours. Credit: SOHO/MDI
Sunspot number: 41
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 05 Apr 2010

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 0 days
2010 total: 6 days (6%)
2009 total: 260 days (71%)
Since 2004: 776 days
Typical Solar Min: 485 days
explanation | more info
Updated 05 Apr 2010

The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 79 sfu
explanation | more data
Updated 05 Apr 2010

Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
Planetary K-index
Now: Kp= 5 storm
24-hr max: Kp= 6
explanation | more data
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 3.5 nT
Bz: 1.4 nT north
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2346 UT
Coronal Holes:
A solar wind stream flowing from the indicated coronal hole should reach Earth on April 6th or 7th. Credit: SOHO Extreme UV Telescope
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2010 Apr 06 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: 2010 Apr 06 2201 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
40 %
20 %
20 %
10 %
05 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
45 %
25 %
25 %
15 %
10 %
05 %
What's up in Space
April 6, 2010

NEW AND IMPROVED: Turn your iPhone or iPod Touch into a field-tested global satellite tracker. The Satellite Flybys app now works in all countries.


GEOMAGNETIC STORM: A sharp gust of solar wind hit Earth's magnetosphere on April 5th and sparked the strongest geomagnetic storm of the year (Kindex=7). Although the storm is subsiding now, it is not over. High-latitude sky watchers should remain alert for auroras. [UPDATED: gallery].

UNIQUE LIFTOFF: Veteran observers agree, yesterday's launch of space shuttle Discovery was something special. "I've seen some truly spectacular shuttle launches since Columbia first rocketed into space in 1981, but the launch of STS-131 was in a whole new category," says Jonathan Sabin of Ellenton, Florida. He took this picture and explains the elements of it below:

"Standing alone at the edge of a deserted cow pasture, I watched in awe as the craft first appeared over a line of trees about a quarter mile away. I was transfixed by the towering, backlit exhaust plume," says Sabin. "Next, something happened that I had never witnessed before. About half-minute or so after the solid rocket boosters (SRBs) separated, a plume appeared around the craft itself. A moving, nebulous 'blob' expanded and twisted as Discovery arched its way back toward the horizon en route to orbit."

The show continued even after the shuttle was out of sight. Ice crystals in Discovery's lingering exhaust caught the rays of the rising sun and formed a noctilucent cloud of startling brightness. "In all my 30 years of watching noctilucent clouds, I never have seen one like this," says astronomer Jacob Kuiper, who got a close-up view of the phenomenon from the Kennedy Space Center's Press Site. "The shuttle exhaust plume turned into a magnificent panorama of color."

more images: from Doug Shytle, PhD of Cape Canaveral, Florida; from Pete Lardizabal of Canaveral National Seashore Park, FL; from Dan Gore of Titusville, Florida; from William Hartenstein of Kennedy Space Center, FL; from Chuck Pek of Cocoa Beach, Florida; from Jacob Kuiper at the Kennedy Space Center's press site; from Mark Staples of Waldo, Florida; from George Fleenor of Bradenton, FL; from Anna Herbst on the NASA Causeway, Titusville, FL; from Terry Allshouse of Leesburg, Florida; from Jim Burchfield of Saint Cloud, Florida; from Adam Bojanowski of Oviedo, Florida; from Jeremy Judkins of Clearwater, Florida;

NORTHERN SPRING: Normally, watching auroras north of the Arctic Circle is a chilling experience, but since Spring arrived, it hasn't been so bad. "Last night, a geomagnetic storm hit our area with full force, producing some of the nicest--and warmest--auroras in months," reports Fredrik Broms of Kvaløya, Norway. "Never before have I been able to watch auroras without freezing. This is a completely new experience to me."

Photo details: Nikon D3, Nikkor 20mm, f/2.8, 2 sec at ISO 800

He snapped the picture above using a Nikon D3. "The sky doesn't get any more beautiful than this," says Broms.

Or does it? A solar wind stream is due to hit Earth tonight or tomorrow, re-energizing and possibly intensifying the display. Northern sky watchers should go outside and look; it's not so cold, after all.

UPDATED: April Northern Lights Gallery
[previous Aprils: 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002]

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 April 6, 2010 there were 1110 potentially hazardous asteroids.
March 2010 Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
2001 PT9
March 3
11.1 LD
305 m
4486 Mithra
March 12
73.5 LD
3.3 km
2001 FM129
March 13
44.1 LD
1.5 km
2010 FU9
March 18
1.5 LD
19 m
2010 EF43
March 18
5.0 LD
23 m
2010 FT
March 27
5.5 LD
33 m
2002 TE66
March 28
48.0 LD
940 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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