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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Current conditions
Solar wind
speed: 317.7 km/sec
density: 0.3 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2345 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A0
2040 UT Oct08
24-hr: A0
2040 UT Oct08
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2340 UT
Daily Sun: 08 Oct. 09
The sun is blank--no sunspots. Photo credit: SOHO/MDI
Sunspot number: 0
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 07 Oct 2009

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 6 days
2009 total: 218 days (78%)
Since 2004: 729 days
Typical Solar Min: 485 days
explanation | more info
Updated 07 Oct 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= 1
explanation | more data
Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 3.5 nT
Bz: 3.3 nT north
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2345 UT
Coronal Holes:
A solar wind stream flowing from the indicated coronal hole could reach Earth on Oct. 10th or 11th. Credit: SOHO Extreme UV Telescope
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2009 Oct 08 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 Oct 08 2201 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
05 %
05 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
05 %
10 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
What's up in Space
October 8, 2009

AURORA ALERT: Did you miss the Northern Lights? Next time get a wake-up call: Spaceweather PHONE.


GIANT NEW RING AROUND SATURN: Just when you thought every big thing in the Solar System had already been discovered, NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope has found an extraordinary new "supersized" ring around Saturn. Get the full story from Science@NASA.

LUNAR IMPACT: NASA has updated the time of Friday morning's lunar impact. The LCROSS booster rocket will plunge into crater Cabeus at 4:31 am PDT (11:31 UT) followed by the LCROSS mothership four minutes later. Tune into NASA TV for live coverage of the event beginning at 3:15 am PDT (10:15 UT).

This morning, amateur astronomer Pete Lawrence photographed the impact site from his backyard observatory in Selsey UK. The red dot marks the spot:

"I used NASA's pointing chart to find target crater Cabeus," says Lawrence.

NASA hopes many amateur astronomers will be watching on Friday. "The more eyes the better," says LCROSS team member Brian Day of NASA/Ames. "We've never done this before and surprises are possible." US sky watchers west of the Mississippi river are favored with darkness and good views of the Moon at the time of the impacts.

To observers on Earth, the initial flashes of light marking the destruction of the two spacecraft will be hidden by crater walls. The debris plumes, however, should be visible in 10-inch class telescopes as they rise 10 km high above the rim of Cabeus. Note the shadows behind the red dot in Lawrence's image. The sunlit plumes will be highlighted by that dark backdrop: observing tips.

The impacts are designed to excavate frozen water from the cold and shadowy floor of crater Cabeus. Moon water is valuable stuff. It costs about $30,000 to rocket a liter of water from Earth to the Moon. If NASA could find water already on the Moon, it would save a lot of money for future thirsty colonists. H2O also can be split into O2 for breathing and H2 for rocket fuel.

Evidence of water will be sought in the plumes of debris that billow out of Cabeus. The Hubble Space Telescope, NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, and several great telescopes on Earth will monitor the plumes for spectral signs of water (H2O) or water fragments (OH). Some results could be available only hours after the impacts, so stay tuned.

Lunar Impact Resources:

GREAT SOLAR ACTIVITY: NASA's twin STEREO spacecraft are stationed 150 million miles apart on nearly opposite sides on the sun. Because of their opposing points of view, the two spacecraft normally see different things. The events of Sept. 26th and 27th, however, were not normal. A magnetic filament reared up from the surface of the sun so large that both spacecraft were able to watch it unfold for a whopping 30 hours. Click on the image to launch a 28 MB Quicktime movie:

In the movie, STEREO-A's view appears on the right, STEREO-B's on the left. From one side, the filament appears dark and shadowy, backlit by the fiery surface of the sun below. From the other side, the filament itself appears fiery, outlined by the dark backdrop of space beyond the sun. Astronomers have never seen solar activity in this way before, and there is much to be learned from the increasingly complete view STEREO provides. More images may be found in the STEREO Selects photo gallery.

Sept. 2009 Aurora Gallery
[previous Septembers: 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004, 2002, 2001]

Explore the Sunspot Cycle

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 8, 2009 there were 1079 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Sept. 2009 Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
2009 QC35
Sept. 2
2.9 LD
35 m
2009 RY3
Sept. 11
1.9 LD
50 m
2009 RR
Sept. 16
2.8 LD
33 m
2009 RG2
Sept. 21
9.1 LD
31 m
2009 SN103
Sept. 28
1.2 LD
13 m
2009 HD21
Sept. 29
22.9 LD
1.0 km
1998 FW4
Sept. 29
8.6 LD
550 m
2009 SH2
Sept. 30
2.8 LD
49 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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