October 21, 2012 – SPACE – Earth is passing through a stream of debris from Halley’s Comet, source of the annual Orionid meteor shower. Forecasters expect ~25 meteors per hour when the shower peaks on Oct. 21st. No matter where you live, the best time to look is during the dark hours before sunrise on Sunday morning. Observers in both hemispheres can see this shower. On Oct. 19th, as Earth was making first contact with the debris stream, NASA’s All-sky Fireball Network recorded 10 Orionid fireballs over the southern USA.
On Oct. 20th at 1814 UT, Earth-orbiting satellites detected a strong M9-class solar flare. The source was a new sunspot, AR1598, emerging over the sun’s southeastern limb. NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory recorded the extreme ultraviolet flash (image), which sent waves of ionization rippling through Earth’s upper atmosphere. More flares are in the offing. NOAA forecasters estimate a 40% chance of M-flares and a 10% chance of X-flares during the next 24 hours. –Space Weather