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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Current conditions
Solar wind
speed: 339.7 km/sec
density: 2.7 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2346 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A1
2300 UT Feb12
24-hr: B3
1620 UT Feb12
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2340 UT
Daily Sun: 12 Feb 09
Emerging sunspot 1012 is a member of old Solar Cycle 23. Credit: SOHO/MDI
Sunspot number: 11
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 12 Feb. 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: 2.1 nT
Bz: 1.6 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 Feb. 13th or 14th. Credit: SOHO Extreme UV Telescope
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2009 Feb 12 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 Feb 12 2201 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
05 %
35 %
01 %
15 %
01 %
05 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
05 %
35 %
01 %
15 %
01 %
10 %
What's up in Space
February 12, 2009

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


FOSSIL SUNSPOT: A sunspot is emerging near the sun's eastern limb. The spot's low latitude and magnetic polarity identify it as a fossil from old Solar Cycle 23. This breaks a string of 23 consecutive spotless days beginning on Jan. 20th. Readers, if you have a solar telescope, take a look.

COLLIDING SATELLITES: Experts are calling it an "unprecedented event." Two satellites have collided in Earth orbit. Iridium 33 crashed into Kosmos 2251 on Tuesday, Feb. 10th, approximately 800 km over northern Siberia. Click on the image to launch a 2.3 MB animation of the collision:

Still images are also available: #1, #2

Both satellites were completely destroyed. The expanding cloud of debris contains more than 500 fragments, substantially increasing the debris population at altitudes near 800 km. According to NASA, the International Space Station orbiting 350 km above Earth is in no immediate danger from the much higher-altitude debris.

The US Air Force Space Surveillance Radar in Texas reportedly detected echoes from the debris cloud when it passed over the facility on Feb. 11th. is streaming live audio from the radar, and it might be possible to hear echoes the next time debris passes overhead. Try listening on Thursday, Feb. 12th, between 10:56 pm and 11:07 pm CST (0456 - 0507 UT on Feb. 13th). That's when Iridium 33 would have passed over the radar intact had the satellite not been shattered.

UPDATE: Rumors are circulating that the debris is radioactive. Not true. These satellites were not nuclear powered.

VIRTUAL REALITY MOON HALO: "Two nights ago, my sister-in-law Katy phoned me at 1 o'clock in the morning to say that there was 'a big crazy circle around the Moon,'" reports Laurent Laveder of Quimper, France. "I went outside to look and she was right: the sky was hazy, the Moon was very high and circled by a bright 22° ice halo."

Click on the image to experience the halo as if you were there yourself:

Virtual Reality Moon Halo

Laveder explains how he created the VR halo: "I took many pictures with my Canon 30D and a fisheye lens. Then I stitched the images together into a 360° panoramic view, which we are able to spin around using Quicktime VR."

If it's cold where you live, be alert for more halos tonight. The Moon is bright and northern skies are icy--perfect conditions for the real thing.

Comet Lulin Photo Gallery
[Comet Hunter Telescope] [NASA's story] [ephemeris]

February 2009 Aurora Gallery
[Previous Februaries: 2008, 2007, 2006, 2004, 2003, 2002]

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 February 12, 2009 there were 1025 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Feb. 2009 Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
2009 BK58
Feb. 2
1.7 LD
30 m
2009 BG81
Feb. 2
4.4 LD
12 m
2009 CC2
Feb. 2
0.5 LD
12 m
2009 BW2
Feb. 5
8.4 LD
40 m
2009 CP
Feb. 8
7.7 LD
20 m
2009 BE58
Feb. 10
8.6 LD
225 m
2006 AS2
Feb. 10
9.2 LD
370 m
2009 BL58
Feb. 11
4.8 LD
55 m
1999 AQ10
Feb. 18
4.4 LD
390 m
2009 CV
Feb. 23
4.8 LD
62 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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