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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Current conditions
Solar wind
speed: 450.4 km/sec
density: 3.0 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2345 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A3
2140 UT Nov20
24-hr: A3
2140 UT Nov20
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2340 UT
Daily Sun: 20 Nov. 09
Sunspots 1032 and 1033 are members of new Solar Cycle 24. Credit: SOHO/MDI
Sunspot number: 30
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 19 Nov 2009

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 0 days
2009 total: 243 days (76%)
Since 2004: 754 days
Typical Solar Min: 485 days
explanation | more info
Updated 19 Nov 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= 0 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 1
explanation | more data
Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 8.6 nT
Bz: 6.1 nT south
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2346 UT
Coronal Holes:
A solar wind stream flowing from the indicated coronal hole should reach Earth on Nov. 20th or 21st. Credit: SOHO Extreme UV Telescope
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2009 Nov 20 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 Nov 20 2201 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
15 %
10 %
10 %
05 %
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
20 %
15 %
10 %
05 %
01 %
01 %
What's up in Space
November 20, 2009

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


SOLAR ACTIVITY: The sun is coming to life. There are several new-cycle active regions scattered across the solar disk and the limb of the sun has some very photogenic prominences. Readers with solar telescopes should dust off their optics and take a look.

NORTHERN LIGHTS: A solar wind stream is buffeting Earth's magnetic field and causing bright auroras around the Arctic Circle. Last night in TromsΓΈ, Norway, sky watcher Thomas Hagen looked up and saw this:

"It was stunning!" he says. "I photographed the display using a Canon 40D set at ISO 800 for 4 seconds."

Arctic people should take note of those settings. The solar wind is still blowing and the auroras could return tonight. NOAA forecasters estimate a 20%-30% chance of high-latitude geomagnetic activity.

UPDATED: November Northern Lights Gallery
[previous Novembers: 2008, 2007, 2006, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001]

ASTEROID CLOUD: The electric-blue "mystery cloud" seen twisting over Colorado and Utah at daybreak on Nov. 18th is no longer a mystery. It was asteroid debris. Consider the following images:

On Oct. 7, 2008, asteroid 2008 TC3 hit the atmosphere and exploded over Sudan, creating the cloud pictured left. On Nov. 18, 2009, a similar-sized asteroid hit the atmosphere and exploded over Colorado and Utah in a flash of light that startled onlookers across at least eight states. Hours later, daybreak revealed the "mystery cloud" pictured right. It looks just like the debris from 2008 TC3.

Both clouds resemble icy noctilucent clouds that form naturally around Earth's poles during summer or in the aftermath of rocket launches. Researchers have long suspected that space dust can prompt the formation of noctilucent clouds by acting as nucleation points for high-altitude ice crystals. Dusty debris from exploded asteroids may serve this purpose quite nicely.

The explosion of 2008 TC3 in Oct. 2008 produced meteorites that were later recovered. The asteroid-blast of Nov. 2009 probably produced meteorites, too, although researchers aren't yet sure where they fell. Stay tuned for updates.

more images: from Lisa Cain of New Castle, Colorado; from Don Brown of Park City, Utah; from Daniel Owen of Monarch, Utah; from John Omohundro of Grand Junction, Colorado; from Jeff Kendrick of Salt Lake City, Utah; from Allan Jeffers of Denver, Colorado; from Scott Stringham of Salt Lake City, Utah; from Sean O'Leary of West Jordan, Utah;

2009 Leonid Meteor Gallery
[previous Leonids: 1998, 2001, 2002, 2006]

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 November 20, 2009 there were 1082 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Nov. 2009 Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
2009 UK14
Nov. 1
9.1 LD
29 m
2006 JY26
Nov. 2
6.7 LD
10 m
2000 XK44
Nov. 4
28.8 LD
1.1 km
2009 VA
Nov. 6
0.05 LD
6 m
2000 UJ1
Nov. 7
43.3 LD
1.2 km
2009 VT1
Nov. 9
1.4 LD
6 m
2000 TO64
Nov. 10
44.2 LD
1.9 km
2009 UK20
Nov. 12
6.5 LD
20 m
2009 VX
Nov. 12
2.6 LD
26 m
2009 VR
Nov. 13
6.6 LD
10 m
2009 VC1
Nov. 18
6.0 LD
21 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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