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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Current conditions
Solar wind
speed: 339.1 km/sec
density: 1.9 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2344 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A0
2340 UT Nov10
24-hr: A0
1740 UT Nov10
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2340 UT
Daily Sun: 10 Nov. 09
Sunspot 1030, which emerged and quickly faded away three days ago, has re-formed. Credit: SOHO/MDI

more images: from Peter Paice of Belfast, Northern Ireland; from Fabio Mariuzza of Biauzzo, Italy
Sunspot number: 14
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 09 Nov 2009

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 0 days
2009 total: 239 days (77%)
Since 2004: 750 days
Typical Solar Min: 485 days
explanation | more info
Updated 09 Nov 2009

Far side of the Sun:
This holographic image reveals sunspot 1029 transiting the far side of the sun. Image credit: SOHO/MDI
Planetary K-index
Now: Kp= 0 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 1
explanation | more data
Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 3.8 nT
Bz: 0.0 nT
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2346 UT
Coronal Holes:
There are no coronal holes on the Earth-facing side of the sun. Credit: SOHO Extreme UV Telescope
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2009 Nov 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 Nov 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
November 10, 2009

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


ATMOSPHERIC OPTICS EXHIBITION: The Boyden Gallery of St.Mary's College in Maryland is planning a major exhibition of atmospheric optics photos during the summer of 2010. Got images? The deadline for submissions is Nov. 30, 2009. Atmospheric optics expert Les Cowley has the full story.

PHOTOGRAPHIC AURORAS: On Sunday, Nov. 8th, a minor solar wind stream buffeted Earth's magnetic field, spawning a subtle display of Northern Lights. "To the naked eye, the auroras were barely visible," says Helge Mortensen of Kvaløya, Norway. "But a 30-second exposure with my digital camera revealed a lovely green band cutting across the sky."

This kind of aurora borealis--visible to the camera but not to the eye--is called a "photographic aurora." The phenomenon is more common and widespread than you might think. In July, for instance, amateur astronomer Howard Edin recorded photographic auroras at a star party in Valentine, Nebraska: photo. That's pretty far south for "Northern Lights." The key, says Edin, was exposing the scene for a full 30 seconds--the same exposure time Mortensen used in Norway two nights ago.

Astrophotographers should be alert for geomagnetic activity. The next time the solar wind gusts, a great photo could be just half-a-minute away.

SUNSET FIREBALL: If only photographers had faster reflexes.... On Saturday, Nov. 7th, around 5 p.m. Pacific time, a brilliant fireball raced4 across the sky of California's San Francisco Bay, where tens of thousands of people saw it. So far, however, not a single photo of the fireball has emerged. The meteor disappeared into the sunset before anyone could raise his or her camera. When shutters finally started clicking, all that remained was a trail of debris:

"Pepper Dela Cruz took this picture outside the Miramar Restaurant in Half Moon Bay on the San Francisco Peninsula just as the sun was setting," says Doug Moore, who submitted the photo on Pepper's behalf. "It shows debris from the fireball, which lasted for several minutes before dissipating."

The origin of the fireball is still uncertain. Meteor expert Peter Jenniskens of NASA's Ames Research Center believes it was "a small, random asteroid that crashed into our atmosphere. The remains [of the space rock] probably landed in the Pacific Ocean," he says.

More fireballs are in the offing. Earth is passing through a stream of debris from Comet 2P/Encke, and this is causing the annual Taurid meteor shower, which peaks between now and Nov. 12th. The shower only produces about 5 meteors per hour, but what the display lacks in number, it makes up for in dazzle. Taurids tend to be fireballs, slow and very bright. The best time to look is during the hours around midnight when the constellation Taurus is high overhead: sky map.

Note: Based on the time of day and other factors, Jenniskens says "the Bay Area fireball was probably not a Taurid."

October Northern Lights Gallery
[previous Octobers: 2008, 2007, 2006, 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 November 10, 2009 there were 1078 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Nov. 2009 Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
2009 UW87
Oct. 31
1.6 LD
11 m
2009 UK14
Nov. 1
9.1 LD
29 m
2006 JY26
Nov. 2
6.7 LD
10 m
2000 XK44
Nov. 4
28.8 LD
1.1 km
2000 UJ1
Nov. 7
43.3 LD
1.2 km
2000 TO64
Nov. 10
44.2 LD
1.9 km
2009 UK20
Nov. 12
6.5 LD
20 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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