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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Current conditions
Solar wind
speed: 374.3 km/sec
density: 9.8 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2346 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A1
2300 UT Jan09
24-hr: A6
0815 UT Jan09
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2340 UT
Daily Sun: 09 Jan 09
A new sunspot is emerging indide the circled area. Its magnetic polarity identifies it as a member of new Solar Cycle 24. Credit: SOHO/MDI
Sunspot number: 11
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 09 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: 5.7 nT
Bz: 0.7 nT south
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2220 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 09 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 09 2201 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
01 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
05 %
05 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
What's up in Space
January 9, 2009

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


NEW SUNSPOT: For the second time this week, a new sunspot is emerging on the sun. It is located at high latitudes in the sun's northern hemisphere and its magnetic polarity identifies it as a member of new Solar Cycle 24. The spot is growing rapidly and may soon provide a nice target for backyard solar telescopes.

BIGGEST FULL MOON OF THE YEAR: The biggest full Moon of the year is coming this weekend. It's a "perigee Moon" as much as 14% wider and 30% brighter than lesser Moons we'll see later in 2009. Science@NASA has the full story.

Last night on the Kolyskia peninsula in Russia, a blast of moonlight pierced the clouds and produced a 22o ice halo:

Aleksandr Chernucho took the picture using his Nikon D700. Readers, take note of the exposure time (10s) and ISO setting (500). You might be photographing halos of your own this weekend. Bright full Moons make lovely atmospheric optics.

more images: from Peter Paul Hattinga Verschure of Deventer, The Netherlands; from Tamas Ladanyi of Zsambek, Hungary; from Phillip Chee of Peterborough, Ontario, Canada; from Martin Mc Kenna of Maghera, Co. Derry, N. Ireland; from Jonathon Stone of Auburn, Alabama;

APPROACHING COMET: Comet Lulin (C/2007 N3), discovered in 2007 by a Strait-bridging team of astronomers from Taiwan and China, is swinging around the sun and approaching Earth. Astronomer Karzaman Ahmad sends this picture taken Jan. 7th from the Langkawi National Observatory in Malaysia:

"I used the observatory's 20-inch telescope for an exposure of 24 minutes," he says. "The image shows the comet's bright tail and an anti-tail."

Right now, Comet Lulin is gliding through the constellation Libra in the southeastern sky before dawn: sky map. It glows like an 8th magnitude star, so a mid-sized backyard telescope is required to see it. Visibility will improve in February as the Earth-comet distance shrinks. At closest approach (0.41 AU) on February 24th, the comet should brighten to about 5th magnitude--dimly visible to the unaided eye and an easy target for binoculars: ephemeris.

Surprises are possible. The hyperbolic orbit of Comet Lulin suggests this could be the comet's first visit to the inner solar system. How it will react to increasing sunlight is anyone's guess. Stay tuned for updates in the weeks ahead.

BONUS: Chinese astronomer Quanzhi Ye co-discovered the comet and he is continuing to monitor it. "This photo taken on Jan. 5th comes from the same telescope at the Lulin Observatory in Taiwan used to find the comet in the first place," says Ye. "I was only 19 years old at the time of the discovery. I hope that my experience might inspire other young people to pursue the same starry dreams as myself."

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 9, 2009 there were 1015 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...
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