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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Current conditions
Solar wind
speed: 302.9 km/sec
density: 1.5 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2344 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A0
2340 UT Sep10
24-hr: A0
2340 UT Sep10
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2340 UT
Daily Sun: 10 Sept. 09
The sun is blank--no sunspots.. Photo credit: SOHO/MDI
Sunspot number: 0
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 09 Sept 2009

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 8 days
2009 total: 201 days (79%)
Since 2004: 712 days
Typical Solar Min: 485 days
explanation | more info
Updated 08 Sept 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: 4.7 nT
Bz: 1.8 nT north
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2345 UT
Coronal Holes:
A solar wind stream flowing from the indicated coronal hole should reach Earth on or about Sept. 13th. Credit: SOHO Extreme UV Telescope
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2009 Sep 10 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 Sep 10 2201 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
05 %
05 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
05 %
05 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
What's up in Space
September 10, 2009

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


HUBBLE LIVES! Back in May, astronauts visited the Hubble Space Telescope to install new hardware and make repairs to the aging observatory. The upgrades were a sucess. To prove it NASA today released spectacular first images from the rejuvenated Great Observatory. Get the full story from Science@NASA.

WHAT WAS THAT? Sky watchers across North America witnessed a strange event on Wednesday night. As space shuttle Discovery glided silently overhead, the orbiter sprouted a flamboyant comet-like tail. Clair Perry sends this picture from Prince Edward Island, Canada:

Photo details: Canon 40D, 17-35mm lens. 30 sec, ISO 500

"The shuttle put on a major light show," says Perry.

In Madison, Wisconsin, photographer Abe Megahed witnessed a similar display: "The shuttle was sporting a massive curved plume. What could it be? Something venting? Reaction Control System thrusters? A massive, record-breaking urine dump?"

Stop laughing. Shuttle pilot Kevin Ford was indeed scheduled to carry out a number of "waste water" dumps over a several hour period around the time of these observations. Pristine water supplies and condensates were also dumped overboard in preparation for landing on Thursday, Sept. 10th.

Thursday's landing opportunities at the Kennedy Space Center begin with a planned deorbit burn at 5:59 p.m. EDT and a daylight landing at 7:05 p.m. The next opportunity is one hour after sunset with the deorbit burn at 7:36 p.m. EDT and a landing at 8:42 p.m. EDT.

Check the Simple Satellite Tracker for last-chance flybys.

INNER SPACE TERRANAUTS: This week, while astronauts orbited high above Earth installing new science equipment in the laboratories of the International Space Station, a team of terranauts descended into the Earth on their own mission of discovery. "We were not in outer space, but inner space," says explorer George Kourounis, who sends this picture from the Cave of Crystals in Naica, Mexico:

more images: #1, #2, #3, #4

Three hundred meters below Naica lies an alien world of giant crystals and nearly unbearable heat. "With an air temperature of 122 F and a relative humidity of more than 90%, it feels like 228 F in the cave," says Kourounis. "To survive in this extreme environment, we enter the cave wearing special suits with cooling packs inside and a backpack respirator which allows us to breath chilled air. Even with all this equipment, I will still be able to stay in the cave for no more than 45 minutes at a time."

Unprotected, even a scant 10 minutes could prove fatal--and that is why this amazing cavern discovered by miners nine years ago remains relatively unexplored. "Some of the crystals are 11 meters long and weigh as much as 55 tons," marvels Kourounis. "We had to be extremely cautious not to slip and fall. Doing so could get you impaled."

"Wearing the suit," he adds, "you feel like an astronaut who is about to go on a space walk." Make that an inner space walk. Click here for more pictures and anecdotes from the Cave of Crystals.

August 2009 Aurora Gallery
[previous Augusts: 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004, 2003, 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 September 10, 2009 there were 1068 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Sept. 2009 Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
2009 QC35
Sept. 2
2.9 LD
35 m
2009 HD21
Sept. 29
22.9 LD
1.0 km
1998 FW4
Sept. 29
8.6 LD
550 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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