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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Current conditions
Solar wind
speed: 359.6 km/sec
density: 2.3 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2345 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A0
2340 UT Aug24
24-hr: A0
2340 UT Aug24
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2340 UT
Daily Sun: 24 Aug 09
The sun is blank--no sunspots. Photo credit: SOHO/MDI
Sunspot number: 0
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 23 Aug 2009

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 44 days
2009 total: 186 days (79%)
Since 2004: 697 days
Typical Solar Min: 485 days
explanation | more info
Updated 23 Aug 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: 3.0 nT
Bz: 0.5 nT north
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2345 UT
Coronal Holes:
A solar wind stream flowing from the indicated coronal hole could hit Earth on Aug. 27th or 28th. Credit: SOHO Extreme UV Telescope
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2009 Aug 24 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 Aug 24 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
August 24, 2009

AURORA ALERT: Did you miss the Northern Lights? In July they descended as far south as Nebraska. Next time get a wake-up call: Spaceweather PHONE.


SUNSPOTS: Today marks the 45th consecutive day without spots on the sun--one of the longest quiet spells of the current solar minimum. In early July, sunspot 1024 seemed to herald the long-awaited onset of Solar Cycle 24, but shortly after that apparition, sunspot production turned off again. The deepest solar minimum in a century continues.

WHO NEEDS THEM? Not all forms of solar activity require sunspots. Throughout the weekend, amateur astronomers monitored a huge prominence surging along the sun's northeastern limb. This morning it erupted:

Prominences are clouds of red-hot hydrogen held above the sun's surface by solar magnetic fields. Sometimes those fields become unstable and erupt, hurling the cloud into space. Such was the case today, Aug. 24th. The Solar and Heliospheric Observatory recorded the action from beginning to end in a 36-hour time-lapse movie.

During the maximum phase of the solar cycle, an eruption like this might be lost in the hubbub of sunspots, solar flares, and geomagnetic storms. But now....? Deep solar minimum does have its advantages.

RANDOM BEAUTY: Just before sunrise on Sunday, Aug. 23rd, Brian Emfinger spotted a meteor streaking past the bright star Capella:

Photo details: Canon Digital Rebel XT, ISO 1600, F3.5, 1min exp

"I thought it might be an early Aurigid," says Emfinger, "but the radiant didn't match. I looked at some of the other minor showers that occur around now and their radiants didn't match either. It must have been a random meteor!"

That's exactly what it was. The inner solar system is littered with random bits of debris from comets and asteroids, ranging in size from microscopic dust to sofa-sized boulders. Earth sweeps up tons of the stuff every day. Standing out under the stars on a clear dark night, you can expect to see between five and ten random or 'sporadic' meteors every hour. It's a slow but lovely meteor shower that lasts all year long. Be alert for random beauty!

August 2009 Aurora Gallery
[previous Augusts: 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001]

2009 Perseid Photo Gallery
[Science@NASA: The Perseids are Coming, Horse Flies and Meteors]

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 August 24, 2009 there were 1068 potentially hazardous asteroids.
August 2009 Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
2009 MC9
Aug. 7
70.3 LD
1.2 km
2009 OF
Aug. 8
15.4 LD
220 m
2007 RQ17
Aug. 9
8.4 LD
130 m
2000 LC16
Aug. 17
75.6 LD
2.0 km
2006 SV19
Aug. 21
59.2 LD
1.3 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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