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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Current conditions
Solar wind
speed: 506.7 km/sec
density: 1.5 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2346 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A0
2340 UT Jan31
24-hr: A0
2340 UT Jan31
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2340 UT
Daily Sun: 31 Jan 09
The sun is blank--no sunspots. Credit: SOHO/MDI
Sunspot number: 0
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 30 Jan. 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= 1 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 2
explanation | more data
Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
What is the auroral oval?
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 3.2 nT
Bz: 2.3 nT north
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2347 UT
Coronal Holes:
Earth is inside a minor solar wind stream flowing from the indicated coronal hole. Credit: SOHO Extreme UV Telescope
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2009 Jan 31 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 Jan 31 2201 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
01 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
05 %
05 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
What's up in Space
January 31, 2009

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


VOLCANO WATCH: Seismic activity continues at Alaska's Mount Redoubt volcano and geologists say an eruption could occur at any moment. The last time an Alaskan volcano blew its top (Kasatochi in August 2008), about a million tons of ash and sulfur dioxide flooded the stratosphere, causing fantastic sunsets around the northern hemisphere and possibly reducing Earth's temperature by a fraction of a degree. More SO2 is in the offing. Stay tuned for updates.

SUNSET SKY SHOW: For the past two nights, sky watchers around the world enjoyed a brilliant sunset conjunction between Venus and the crescent Moon. "At the Philippus Lansbergen public observatory, we had more than 60 visitors admiring the display," reports Jan Koeman of Middelburg, The Netherlands:

Next month, it's going to happen again--only better. During last night's conjunction, the Moon and Venus were separated by about 3o. On Friday, Feb. 27th, the Moon will pass less than 1o from Venus. For reasons not fully understood by astronomers or psychologists, a 1o pair is much prettier than a 3o pair, so the next conjunction is going to be special.

Whet your appetite with a few more photos: from Daniel Chang of Hong Kong; from Steuckers Dominique of Holsbeek, Belgium; from Quentin D. of Le Havre, Normandy, France; from Sangku Kim of Pyeongtaek, South Korea; from Tyler Burg of Council Bluffs, Iowa; from Mahdi Zamani of Tehran, Iran; from Mark Seibold of Portland, Oregon; from Wienie van der Oord iof the Negev desert, Israel; from Minghelli of L'Escarène, Alpes Maritimes, France; from Patrick Jablonski of Normandie, France; from Mike O'Leary of El Cajon, California; from Eleazar Sánchez of Shanghai, China; from Hal Schade of Rio Dulce, Guatemala;

SKI HALOS: What do you do when you see a skier flying through a sundog? Simple. Execute a hockey stop, take off your gloves, extract a digital camera from the folds of your snow suit, and--click!--photograph the split-second encounter:

Skiing photographer Ivar Matheson did everything right on Jan. 27th when he took the picture above. "I was at the Åre ski resort in Sweden. It was a sunny day and the air was filled with ice crystals. This gave rise to an impressive display of luminous sun halos, sundogs, sub-sundogs, subsuns, upper and lower sun pillars and tangent arcs." The complete collection is a must-see.

Going skiing? Be alert for "ski halos"--and practice your hockey stop!

Comet Lulin Photo Gallery
[Comet Hunter telescope] [sky map] [ephemeris]

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 January 31, 2009 there were 1019 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Jan. 2009 Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
2008 YC29
Jan. 2
3.4 LD
35 m
2008 YY32
Jan. 3
6.2 LD
40 m
2008 YG30
Jan. 4
3.6 LD
50 m
2008 YV32
Jan. 9
2.7 LD
25 m
2008 YF29
Jan. 11
9.7 LD
65 m
2002 AO11
Jan. 15
7.7 LD
120 m
1998 CS1
Jan. 17
11 LD
1.3 km
2009 BS5
Jan. 17
2.4 LD
15 m
2009 BJ2
Jan. 21
4.6 LD
16 m
2009 BE
Jan. 23
2.1 LD
26 m
2009 BD
Jan. 25
1.8 LD
10 m
2009 BO5
Jan. 25
6.7 LD
19 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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