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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Current conditions
Solar wind
speed: 295.9 km/sec
density: 2.9 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2346 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A0
2340 UT Jun17
24-hr: A0
0130 UT Jun17
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2340 UT
Daily Sun: 17 June 09
A new sunspot is forming in the circled area. Credit: SOHO/MDI

more images: from Pavol Rapavy of Observatory Rimavska Sobota, Slovakia; from Jacob Bass√łe of Copenhagen, Denmark
Sunspot number: 0
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 16 Jun 2009

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 4 days
2009 total: 131 days (78%)
Since 2004: 642 days
Typical Solar Min: 485 days
explanation | more info
Updated 16 Jun 2009

Far side of the Sun:
This holographic image reveals no large sunspots on the far side of the sun. Image credit: SOHO/MDI
Planetary K-index
Now: Kp= 0 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 2
explanation | more data
Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 4.6 nT
Bz: 0.5 nT south
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2346 UT
Coronal Holes:
There are no coronal holes on the Earth-facing side of the sun. Credit: SOHO Extreme UV Telescope
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2009 Jun 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: 2009 Jun 17 2201 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
10 %
10 %
05 %
05 %
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
10 %
10 %
05 %
05 %
01 %
01 %
What's up in Space
June 17, 2009

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


MYSTERY OF THE MISSING SUNSPOTS: Where have all the sunspots gone? Scientists studying a jet stream deep inside the sun may have found the answer. Get the full story from Science@NASA.

NIGHT-SHINING CLOUDS: Intense, electric-blue noctilucent clouds rippled across Europe last night. Sightings were made in Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands, France, Germany, Poland and all parts of the British Isles. Click on the image to launch a movie recorded by Chris Rollwagen of Potsdam, Germany (DivX required):

Two movie formats are available: Quicktime or AVI

"This was a very strong display," he says. "The clouds were bright and showed an intense contrast to the deep blue sky. I'm hoping for more in the nights ahead."

He'll probably get his wish. For reasons no one fully understands, noctilucent clouds tend to be most active during years of solar minimum. 2009 is such a year. The sun is in the pits of the deepest solar minimum in nearly a century, and many researchers expect a banner season for these mysterious clouds.

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

NLC OBSERVING TIPS: Look west 30 to 60 minutes after sunset when the Sun has dipped 6o to 16o below the horizon: diagram. If you see luminous blue-white tendrils spreading across the sky, you've probably spotted a noctilucent cloud. Although noctilucent clouds appear most often at high latitudes, they have been sighted in recent years as far south as Colorado, Utah and Virginia.

ISS IN BROAD DAYLIGHT: After 11 years of construction, the International Space Station has grown so large you can see it in broad daylight. "On June 13th, I was watching a red-headed woodpecker's nest when the ISS passed overhead," says Brooke O'Klatner of Charlotte, North Carolina. Follow the curved branch to find the spaceship:

The station's brightness will increase even more when space shuttle Endeavour arrives later this week (update: Endeavour's trip has been postponed until July). Endeavour will deliver a new "space porch" for Japan's Kibo science lab. It is a platform where science experiments requiring exposure to hard vacuum and radiation can be set outside. The Endeavour+ISS combo will pierce the blue sky of daytime with ease--and just imagine how they will look at night!

Readers, check the Simple Satellite Tracker for flyby times.

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 June 17, 2009 there were 1063 potentially hazardous asteroids.
June 2009 Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
2009 KR21
June 1
0.7 LD
21 m
2009 KL8
June 1
5.1 LD
63 m
2003 QO104
June 9
36.8 LD
2.9 km
1994 CC
June 10
6.6 LD
1.2 km
2001 FE90
June 28
7.0 LD
435 m
2002 KL6
June 28
57.5 LD
1.4 km
2006 MV1
June 30
9.6 LD
20 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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