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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Current conditions
Solar wind
speed: 369.1 km/sec
density: 3.0 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2345 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: B1
2030 UT Feb17
24-hr: B2
0740 UT Feb17
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2340 UT
Daily Sun: 17 Feb. 10
A new sunspot is forming at the circled location. Readers with solar telescopes, now is the time to watch sunspot genesis in action. Image credit: SOHO/MDI
Sunspot number: 28
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 16 Feb 2010

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 0 days
2010 total: 2 days (4%)
2009 total: 260 days (71%)
Since 2004: 772 days
Typical Solar Min: 485 days
explanation | more info
Updated 16 Feb 2010

The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 87 sfu
explanation | more data
Updated 16 Feb 2010

Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
Planetary K-index
Now: Kp= 0 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 2
explanation | more data
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 5.9 nT
Bz: 5.5 nT north
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2346 UT
Coronal Holes:
A minor solar wind stream flowing from the indicated coronal hole should reach Earth on Feb. 19th or 20th. Credit: SOHO Extreme UV Telescope
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2010 Feb 17 2201 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
05 %
05 %
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: 2010 Feb 17 2201 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
25 %
25 %
10 %
10 %
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
30 %
30 %
15 %
15 %
01 %
01 %
What's up in Space
February 17, 2010

SATELLITE FLYBYS APP: Turn your iPhone or iPod into a field-tested satellite tracker! presents the Satellite Flybys app.


SOLAR DYNAMICS OBSERVATORY: The most advanced solar observatory ever built launched from Cape Canaveral last Thursday, Feb. 11th, on five-year mission to study the sun. NASA says the Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) is "in good shape" as the post-launch checkout of spacecraft systems continues. The first IMAX movies of solar explosions should hit the screens in April. Stay tuned!

AURORAS AND A FIREBALL: This week, the brightest auroras of the year have been surging around the Arctic Circle. Never one to waste a photo-op, English astrophotographer Pete Lawrence boarded a "Northern Lights flight" on Feb. 15th, and this is what he saw 37,000 ft over the Shetland Islands:

"The display was awesome and completely occupied the view, illuminating the fuselage and clouds below us in an eerie green light," says Lawrence. "At one point, a brilliant fireball streaked down towards the horizon. If you're wondering why there are two fireball trails, the main one was so bright that it left a noticeable reflection in the plane window. What a night!"

What a night, indeed. It could be just the first of many. The opening months of 2010 have brought a sharp increase in solar activity and a concomitant brightening of the aurora borealis. NOAA forecasters estimate a 25% - 30% chance of more polar geomagnetic activity in the next 48 hours. A tip for flyers: Grab that window seat.

UPDATED: February Northern Lights Gallery
[previous Februarys: 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2004, 2003, 2002]

DIFFICULT, BUT BEAUTIFUL: Last night, Venus and Jupiter converged for a remarkable conjunction; at closest approach, the two bright planets were only 1/2-degree apart. Just one problem. The meeting occured deep in the glow of sunset:

The event required crystal-clear skies for easy visibility. "Here in Arizona, we were able to see Venus and Jupiter with the naked eye," reports David Harvey from Tucson. "I shot the moon a few minutes after Jupiter set and inserted it for scale. It was a beautiful view."

Elsewhere, viewing the conjunction was more of an adventure. Some photographers conducted car chases to find gaps in clouds, while others climbed to rooftops for a better angle. Click on the links below for sunset tales.

more images: from Doug Zubenel of Lawrence, Kansas; from Dr. Wayne Wooten of Pensacola, Florida; from Becky Ramotowski of Tijeras, New Mexico; from Tavi Greiner of Coastal North Carolina

Solar Eclipse Photo Gallery
[eclipse alerts] [solar telescopes]

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 17, 2010 there were 1095 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Feb. 2010 Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
2009 UN3
Feb. 9
14.3 LD
1.2 km
2001 FD58
Feb. 19
58.5 LD
0.9 km
2002 EZ11
Feb. 24
77.5 LD
1.0 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
  more links...
©2008, -- This site is penned daily by Dr. Tony Phillips.













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