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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Current conditions
Solar wind
speed: 322.8 km/sec
density: 1.3 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2346 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A0
2340 UT Jan11
24-hr: A0
0315 UT Jan11
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2340 UT
Daily Sun: 11 Jan 09
Sunspot 1010 is a member of new Solar Cycle 24. Credit: SOHO/MDI

more images: from Pavol Rapavy of Rimavska Sobota, Slovakia; from Stefano Sello of Pisa, Italy; from Stuart Thomson of Melbourne, Australia; from Andreas Murner of Lake Chiemsee, Bavaria, Germany; from Alan Friedman of Buffalo, NY; from Pete Lawrence of Selsey, West Sussex; from Malcolm Park of London, England;
Sunspot number: 17
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 10 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= 1
explanation | more data
Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
What is the auroral oval?
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 2.3 nT
Bz: 0.3 nT south
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2347 UT
Coronal Holes:
A solar wind stream flowing from the indicated coronal hole should reach Earth on or about Jan. 17th. Credit: SOHO Extreme UV Telescope
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2009 Jan 11 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 11 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 11, 2009

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


NEW-CYCLE SUNSPOT: It's not big, but it is significant. Emerging sunspot 1010 is a member of new Solar Cycle 24. This small but growing active region is the latest in a series of new-cycle spots that began popping up on the sun about four months ago. Solar activity is still low, but we appear to be leaving solar minimum behind and beginning the slow ascent to Solar Max in 2011-2013.

PERIGEE MOON SHADOWS: The brightest full Moon of the year is casting the darkest Moon-shadows. "I went out tonight to take a picture of the moonrise," says Jonathan Sabin of Ellenton, Florida. "I couldn't help noticing just how dark the shadows were." He faced away from the light, directed his camera (a Nikon D300) at the ground, and snapped this self-portrait:

This weekend's full Moon is a perigee Moon, as much as 50,000 km closer to Earth and 30% brighter than usual. All around the world, people were amazed by the shadows--but even more amazed by the light source itself. Browse the links below to see what was shining behind Sabin's back.

more images: from Anton Balatskiy of Port Provideniya, Chukotka, Russia; from Doug Zubenel of Johnson County, Kansas; from David Ewoldt of Okarche, Oklahoma; from Terry Tedor of North Pole, Alaska; from Antoine Gerhardt of Nice, France; from Herfried Eisler of Strasbourg, France; from David Dickinson of Hudson, Florida; from Charles Beanland of Gibraltar, Europe; from Mariano Ribas of Buenos Aires, Argentina; from Keith Breazeal of Amador County, California; from Tamas Ladanyi of Kabhegy, Hungary; from Robbie Merrill of Mesa, Arizona; from Till Credner of Bad Urach, Germany; from Riccardo Di Nasso of Pisa, Italy; from Bryan Murahashi of San Jose, California; from Jim Saueressig of Burlington, Kansas; from Ginger Mayfield of Divide, Colorado; from K. Raghunathan of Chennai, India; from Bader Eddine Hamdi of Debila, Eloued, Algeria; from Vincent Jacques of Breil-sur-Roya, France; from Mahdi Zamani of Tehran, Iran; from Jens Hackmann of Weikersheim, Germany; from Frederic Hore of Montreal, Quebec;

BONUS: Today's edition of Space Weather Radio highlights a pack of Siberian Huskies howling at the perigee Moon..

ALPINE SUBSUNS: The next time you go skiing, look out for bright lights floating in the air around you. Really. "I saw several of them while riding the lifts in Aspen on Jan. 3rd," reports photographer Thomas O'Brien. "I decided to hike around the mountain for a better view and I found a really bright one. It was incredibly hard to photograph--like shooting directly into two suns at once." This was the view through his Canon 5D:

"It is exactly like shooting into two suns at once," says atmospheric optics expert Les Cowley, "because it is a subsun, a direct reflection of the sun by millions of ice crystals acting as mirrors. The crystals are flat plates drifting in the cold air. Subsuns can be blindingly bright, look for them while skiing or when flying."

more images: from Thomas O'Brien in Aspen, Colorado; from Lukas Ronge on Snezka mountain in the Czech Republic

UPDATED: 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 11, 2009 there were 1016 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...
©2008, -- This site is penned daily by Dr. Tony Phillips.
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