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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Current conditions
Solar wind
speed: 361.3 km/sec
density: 0.3 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2346 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A2
2240 UT May17
24-hr: A2
2240 UT May17
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2340 UT
Daily Sun: 17 May 10
There are no sunspots on the Earth-facing side of the sun. Credit: SOHO/MDI
Sunspot number: 0
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 16 May 2010

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 8 days
2010 total: 29 days (21%)
2009 total: 260 days (71%)
Since 2004: 797 days
Typical Solar Min: 486 days
explanation | more info
Updated 16 May 2010

The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 70 sfu
explanation | more data
Updated 16 May 2010

Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
Planetary K-index
Now: Kp= 2 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 2
explanation | more data
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 4.0 nT
Bz: 3.9 nT south
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2347 UT
Coronal Holes:
A solar wind stream flowing from this double-lobed coronal hole should reach Earth on or about May 20th, Credit: SOHO Extreme UV Telescope
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2010 May 17 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: 2010 May 17 2201 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
05 %
05 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
10 %
10 %
05 %
05 %
01 %
01 %
What's up in Space
May 17, 2010

NEW AND IMPROVED: Turn your iPhone or iPod Touch into a field-tested global satellite tracker. The Satellite Flybys app now works in all countries.


AURORA WATCH: High-latitude sky watchers should be alert for auroras on May 20th. That's when a solar wind stream is due to hit Earth, possibly sparking geomagnetic storms. [gallery]

LUNAR TRANSIT: On Sunday, May 16th, space shuttle Atlantis docked to the International Space Station. Hours later, the combined spacecraft passed directly in front of the Moon over Hookset, New Hampshire. Click on the image to set the scene in motion:

"I recorded the event using my 6-inch reflector," says photographer Tim Printy. "This was my first ISS transit and I was somewhat surprised to see how quickly the spacecraft moved across the Moon." Indeed, the entire transit lasted no more than a split second, a result of the space station's 17,000 mph orbital velocity.

Watch the video again and compare the brightness of the spacecraft to that of the Moon. By itself the ISS is very bright; with Atlantis alonside, it is over the top. The combined surface brightness of the spacecraft rivals that of the Moon itself.

ISS and Atlantis will be together for another 8 days. Check the Simple Satellite Tracker (or check your iPhone) for bright passes over your hometown.

LUNAR OCCULTATION: Yesterday, sky watchers in parts of Africa, the Middle East, India and southeast Asia witnessed a spectacular lunar occultation of Venus. "People were awestruck and 'frozen to their feet' at the park where we watched the event," reports Armando Lee of San Miguel by the Bay, the Philippines. He took this picture using a Canon 350D at the prime focus of a 5-inch Orion telescope:

Venus disappeared for more than 40 minutes behind the lunar disk, but the long absence wasn't the attraction. It was the transitions into and out of eclipse that really impressed onlookers. "Ingress looked like a diamond ring - Tiffany style - while egress looked like an eruption on the crescent Moon!" says Lee.

more images: from Joe Chan Yuen Fai of Kennedy Town, Hong Kong; from Anthony Ayiomamitis of Athens, Greece; from Teddy Ty Chua of Manila, the Philippines; from Farmakopoulos Antonis of Mt Parnon Sparta Grecce; from Wah! of Hong Kong; from Karzaman Ahmad of Langkawi National Observatory, Malaysia; from Mark Arzadon of San Jacinto, Pangasinan, Philippines; from Liv Heather of Valenzuela City, Philippines; from Mohamad Soltanolkottabi of Niasar, Kashan, Iran; from Rana Khan of Kolkata, India;

May 2010 Aurora Gallery
[previous Mays: 2008, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002] [aurora alerts]

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 May 17, 2010 there were 1127 potentially hazardous asteroids.
May 2010 Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
2010 JR34
May 14
5.8 LD
12 m
2003 HR32
May 17
55.2 LD
1.0 km
2010 JN71
May 26
8.2 LD
245 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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