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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Current conditions
Solar wind
speed: 314.1 km/sec
density: 4.5 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2347 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A0
2215 UT Sep27
24-hr: A5
0045 UT Sep27
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2340 UT
Daily Sun: 25 Sept. 09
Sunspots 1026 and1027 are members of new Solar Cycle 24. Photo credit: SOHO/MDI
Sunspot number: 14
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 26 Sept 2009

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 0 days
2009 total: 212 days (79%)
Since 2004: 723 days
Typical Solar Min: 485 days
explanation | more info
Updated 26 Sept 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= 3
explanation | more data
Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 2.9 nT
Bz: 0.5 nT south
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2347 UT
Coronal Holes:
There are no large coronal holes on the Earth-facing side of the sun. Credit: SOHO Extreme UV Telescope
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2009 Sep 27 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 Sep 27 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
September 27, 2009

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


ICY SURPRISE ON MARS: In 1976, NASA's Viking 2 lander dug into the soil of Mars in search of water and came up dry. NASA has just learned that Viking 2 might have succeeded if it had dug only 4 inches deeper. Meteorites hitting the Red Planet in 2008 and 2009 have exposed subsurface deposits of ice in the general area where Viking 2 landed. According to pictures taken by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, the ice is surprisingly close to the surface in easy reach of robotic landers or thirsty human explorers. Get the full story from Science@NASA.

SOLAR ACTIVITY: There's more to the solar activity than sunspots. While sunspots have been absent 80% of the time so far in 2009, almost every day has brought a prominence or two. Yesterday's was spectacular:

Emiel Veldhuis photographed the tower of solar plasma on Sept. 26th from his backyard observatory in Zwolle, the Netherlands. "Nice display," he says with a hint of understatement.

In Moers, Germany, Helmut Goell trained his Personal Solar Telescope on the monster prominence and recorded it for 90 minutes. Watch the movie and consider this: The prominence is five times taller than Earth itself, and the "plasma falls" are cascading some 64,000 km.

That's solar activity. Readers with solar telescopes are encouraged to look for "proms."

more images: from Francisco A. Rodriguez of Cabreja Mountain Observatory, Canary Islands; from Pete Lawrence of Selsey, West Sussex, UK; from Steve Riegel of Santa Maria, California; from Cai-Uso Wohler of Bispingen, Germany; from P-M Hedén of Ålbo, Sweden; from Fabio Mariuzza of Biauzzo, Italy; from Rich Schueller of Massachusetts; from Matthias Juergens of Gnevsdorf, Germany; from Franck Charlier of Marines, Val d'Oise, France

FIND THE COMET: This weekend, Comet 217P/LINEAR is passing by the Orion Nebula. Can you find it? Scan the picture below for a gaseous tail:

Italian amateur astronomer Rolando Ligustri took the picture on Sept. 26th using a 4-inch wide field Global Rent-a-Scope in New Mexico. He needed 15 minutes of exposure time to reveal the green comet among the gas and dust of Orion's great star-forming region. The comet is receding from the nebula now, but still close enough for some nice parting shots. Astrophotographers who wish to try can use this JPL ephemeris to point their telescopes. Good luck!

(In case you're still looking, the comet is here.)

Sept. 2009 Aurora Gallery
[previous Septembers: 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004, 2002, 2001]

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 September 27, 2009 there were 1076 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Sept. 2009 Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
2009 QC35
Sept. 2
2.9 LD
35 m
2009 RY3
Sept. 11
1.9 LD
50 m
2009 RR
Sept. 16
2.8 LD
33 m
2009 RG2
Sept. 21
9.1 LD
31 m
2009 HD21
Sept. 29
22.9 LD
1.0 km
1998 FW4
Sept. 29
8.6 LD
550 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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