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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Current conditions
Solar wind
speed: 493.9 km/sec
density: 2.6 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2346 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A0
2340 UT Jul14
24-hr: A0
0955 UT Jul14
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2340 UT
Daily Sun: 14 July 09
The sun is blank--no sunspots. Credit: SOHO/MDI
Sunspot number: 0
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 13 July 2009

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 3 days
2009 total: 145 days (76%)
Since 2004: 656 days
Typical Solar Min: 485 days
explanation | more info
Updated 13 July 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= 4
explanation | more data
Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 3.5 nT
Bz: 1.0 nT north
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2346 UT
Coronal Holes:
Earth is inside a solar wind stream flowing from the indicated coronal hole. Credit: SOHO Extreme UV Telescope
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2009 Jul 14 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 Jul 14 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
July 14, 2009

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


NLCs INVADE THE USA: So far in 2009, noctilucent clouds (NLCs) have been seen mainly over Europe and parts of Canada, but now they are beginning to invade the continental USA. "We had a pretty good dispay in Grass Valley, Oregon, last night," reports amateur astronomer Dan Earl. "I've been looking for NLCs for the past couple of years and finally they arrived!" He took these pictures using a Canon 40D. US sky watchers should be alert for electric blue.

NOCTILUCENT STORM: For the second day in a row, a major display of noctilucent clouds is taking place over Europe. The electric-blue clouds are so bright, you can see them while looking at the ground. "Here they are reflected from a puddle," offers photographer Douglas Cooper of Stirling, Scotland. Of course, the sky is still best. "I have never seen such bright, large and detailed noctilucent clouds," says Piotr Majewski, who sends this picture from Torun, Poland:

"This was a wonderful meeting of a gothic miracle (Torun, the City of Copernicus) and the heavenly miracle of noctilucent clouds," says Majewski. "I took the picture using my Nikon D700 set at ISO 200 for 8 seconds."

2009 has been a good year for noctilucent clouds--and that's no surprise. Noctilucent clouds almost always surge during years of solar minimum such as 2009. No one fully understands the link, but here is a popular idea: Low solar activity allows the upper atmosphere to cool, promoting the formation of tiny ice crystals that make up noctilucent clouds. Browse the gallery for observing tips and more snapshots from July 12th and 13th:

UPDATED: 2009 Noctilucent Photo Gallery
[previous years: 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004, 2003]

SPACESHIP DOWN: Yesterday, the International Space Station (ISS) lost its sidekick when Progress 33 reentered Earth's atmosphere and disintegrated over the Pacific Ocean. The Russian supply ship had been accompanying the ISS for nearly two weeks, treating sky watchers to double flybys such as this one recorded on July 12th by Marco Langbroek of Leiden, the Netherlands:

Langbroek notes that the Progress vehicle was about 6 magnitudes or 250 times dimmer than the International Space Station. Nevertheless, both were visible to the unaided eye and "it was neat to see the two chase each other over the sky."

Soon, the ISS will have a new sidekick: Space shuttle Endeavour, delayed by weekend lightning, is scheduled to launch this Wednesday, July 15th, at 6:03 p.m. EDT. Endeavour will rendezvous with the ISS two days later, setting the stage for a new set of double flybys, much brighter and more eye-catching than the Progress-ISS combo. Check the Simple Satellite Tracker for flyby times.

more images: from Dave P Smith of Bluebell Hill, England; from Tamas Ladanyi of Veszpremfajsz, Hungary; from Alan Dyer of Gleichen, Alberta, Canada; from Rijk-Jan Koppejan of Middelburg, The Netherlands; from Steve Holmes of Laxfield, Suffolk UK; from Tomáš Maruška of Marianka, Slovakia; from Scott Novitsky of Grand Rapids, MI; from Rob Bullen of Cinderford, Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire, UK; from Jan Koeman of Kloetinge, The Netherlands

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 July 14, 2009 there were 1065 potentially hazardous asteroids.
July 2009 Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
2009 MM8
July 13
11.4 LD
53 m
2008 NP3
July 18
11.8 LD
87 m
2006 TU7
July 20
14.2 LD
175 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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