You are viewing the page for May. 8, 2011
  Select another date:
<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Solar wind
speed: 286.6 km/sec
density: 1.6 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2345 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: B2
2056 UT May08
24-hr: B4
1008 UT May08
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2300 UT
Daily Sun: 08 May 11
A new sunspot is emerging at the circled location.Otherwise, solar activity is very low. Credit: SDO/HMI
Sunspot number: 38
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 07 May 2011

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 0 days
2011 total: 1 day (<1%)
2010 total: 51 days (14%)
2009 total: 260 days (71%)
Since 2004: 820 days
Typical Solar Min: 486 days

Updated 07 May 2011

The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 102 sfu
explanation | more data
Updated 07 May 2011

Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
Planetary K-index
Now: Kp= 1 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 1
explanation | more data
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 3.7 nT
Bz: 2.9 nT south
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2346 UT
Coronal Holes: 08 May 11
There are no large coronal holes on the Earthside of the sun. Credit: SDO/AIA.
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2011 May 08 2200 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: 2011 May 08 2200 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
05 %
10 %
01 %
05 %
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
05 %
15 %
01 %
10 %
01 %
01 %
Sunday, May. 8, 2011
What's up in space

Turn your cell phone into a field-tested satellite tracker. Works for Android and iPhone.

Satellite flybys

METEORS FROM HALLEY'S COMET: NASA's network of all-sky cameras in the southeastern United States detected a surplus of fireballs on May 7th. Each one was a piece of Halley's Comet, source of the annual eta Aquarid meteor shower. The eta Aquarids were supposed to peak on May 6th as Earth passed through a stream of Halley-dust, but there seems to have been a delay. Worldwide counts from the International Meteor Organization agree that May 7th was better. Furthermore, the shower might not be finished yet, so stay tuned.

CHECK YOUR ODOMETER: "On the eve of International Astronomy Day, 2011, my 1998 Jeep Cherokee Sport passed a major milestone," reports astrophotographer Dennis Mammana of Borrego Springs, California. "Its odometer flipped over to 186,282 miles; in other words, it's taken 13 years and 8 months for my Jeep to travel the distance a beam of light can cover in just one second." (continued below)

"Over the years this vehicle has taken me to countless star parties and night sky photo shoots, and I expect it will continue to do so for many years," he adds. "Next stop... the Moon!"

Readers, check your odometer. How far have you gone? (Distances: Moon = 238,854 miles; geosynchronous orbit = 22,236 miles; L1 Lagrange point = 930,000 miles)

SUN HALOES: On May 6th, sky watchers in Belgium were stunned when they witnessed a heavenly apparition in broad daylight. "It was one of the brightest and most complex displays of sun haloes I have seen in 25 years of observing," reports Philippe Mollet, who took this picture:

image with labels | more images

"The phenomenon lasted for more than 30 minutes, long enough to phone and e-mail many friends and colleagues," he adds. "[It looks like] this was observed over a large part of our (little) country."

Sun haloes are caused by ice crystals in high clouds. "This wonderfully bright display proves that you do not need to be in polar regions to see them," notes atmospheric optics expert Les Cowley. "Temperatures in 3 to 6 mile high cirrus are more than cold enough to make the needed hexagonal prism shaped ice crystals. There are two sets of halos, those nearest the sun are made by rays that pass between crystal faces inclined at 60 degrees. The outer halos with widely separated colors are from faces inclined at 90 degrees. See the labeled image for halo names. The huge colourful halo is a supralateral arc. This halo is often very hard to distinguish from the much less common 46 degree circular halo but there are several clues to look for to tell them apart."

more images: from Hendrik Mertens of Londerzeel, Belgium; from Joel Bavais of Ath, Belgium; from Francesco De Comite of Mouscron (Belgium)

April 2011 Aurora Gallery
[previous Aprils: 2010, 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 May 8, 2011 there were 1218 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Recent & Upcoming Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
2009 UK20
May 2
8.6 LD
23 m
2011 JN5
May 2
8.7 LD
42 m
2011 HD24
May 2
5.4 LD
35 m
2008 FU6
May 5
75.5 LD
1.2 km
2003 YT1
May 5
65.3 LD
2.5 km
2011 HC24
May 12
5.9 LD
59 m
2002 JC
Jun 1
57.5 LD
1.6 km
2009 BD
Jun 2
0.9 LD
10 m
2002 JB9
Jun 11
71.5 LD
3.2 km
2001 VH75
Jun 12
42.2 LD
1.1 km
2004 LO2
Jun 15
9.9 LD
48 m
2011 GA55
Jul 6
64.1 LD
1.0 km
2011 EZ78
Jul 10
37.3 LD
1.5 km
2003 YS117
Jul 14
73.9 LD
1.0 km
2007 DD
Jul 23
9.3 LD
31 m
2009 AV
Aug 22
49.7 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
Conquest Graphics
  for out-of-this-world printing and graphics
Science Central
  cloud server 2
  more links...
©2010 All rights reserved. This site is penned daily by Dr. Tony Phillips.
©2019 All rights reserved.