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SpaceWeather.com -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
SPACE WEATHER
Current conditions
Solar wind
speed: 606.0 km/sec
density: 2.8 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2245 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A0
2245 UT May04
24-hr: A0
2245 UT May04
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2245 UT
Daily Sun: 04 May 08
A new sunspot (encircled in the image above) is emerging in the sun's southern hemisphere. The spot's magnetic polarity and high latitude identify it as a member new Solar Cycle 24. Credit: SOHO/MDI
Sunspot number: 12
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 04 May 2008
Far side of the Sun:
This holographic image reveals no sunspots on the farside of the sun. Image credit: SOHO/MDI
Planetary K-index
Now: Kp= 2 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 3
quiet
explanation | more data
Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
Credit: NOAA/POES
What is the auroral oval?
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 3.9 nT
Bz: 2.6 nT north
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2246 UT
Coronal Holes:
A solar wind flowing from the indicated coronal hole should reach Earth on May 5th or 6th. Credit: SOHO Extreme UV Telescope
SPACE WEATHER
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2008 May 04 2203 UTC
FLARE
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
CLASS M
01 %
01 %
CLASS X
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: 2008 May 04 2203 UTC
Mid-latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
ACTIVE
20 %
20 %
MINOR
05 %
05 %
SEVERE
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
ACTIVE
30 %
30 %
MINOR
10 %
10 %
SEVERE
05 %
05 %
What's up in Space
May 4, 2008
MOTHER'S DAY: Give your mom a truly heavenly gift on May 11th--a subscription to Space Weather PHONE!  

ETA AQUARID METEORS: If you see a meteor flit across the sky tonight, it's probably a piece of Halley's Comet. Earth is crossing through a stream of dusty debris from Halley and this is causing the annual eta Aquarid meteor shower. Sky watchers in the tropics and southern hemisphere (where the shower is most intense) could see as many as 70 meteors per hour during the dark hours before dawn on Monday, May 5th, and Tuesday, May 6th. Sky maps: north, south.

MERCURY RISING: Lately, have you noticed a bright star hanging in the western sky at sunset? That's no star--it's Mercury. The innermost planet is emerging from the glare of the sun and putting on its best show of 2008. Here is the view on May 2nd from Tijeras, New Mexico:

"I used a simple setup: a Nikon D70 with a 180mm lens at f/4 on a tripod for 2 seconds and....voila!" says photographer Becky Ramotowski. In her snapshot, Mercury is on the left and the Pleaides on the right.

Mercury will be visible every night for the next two weeks, but there is one night better than the others: May 6th when the crescent Moon glides by Mercury forming a beautiful and eye-catching duo. Mark your calendar and take a look: sky map.

more images: from Tamas Ladanyi of Lake Little-Balaton, Hungary; from Martin McKenna of Maghera, Co. Derry, N. Ireland; from Pete Lawrence of Selsey, West Sussex, UK; from Günther Strauch of Borken, NRW, Germany;

NEW CYCLE SUNSPOT: Slowly but surely, Solar Cycle 24 is coming to life. A double sunspot emerging today in the sun's southern hemisphere has the high latitude and magnetic polarity characteristic of a new-cycle spot. Amateur astronomer Joel Bavais sends this picture from Anvaing, Belgium:


Photo details: 90 mm refractor, Astrosolar D3.8 filter

"What a pleasure to see some spots on our star again, even if they are not the most spectacular," says Bavais. "Actually," he notes, "they're not so small." Each of the dark cores is about the size of Earth.

The significance of this sunspot, however, is not its size or latent potential for solar storms. Strong solar flares and CMEs are extremely unlikely from this little "active region." Instead, it is a harbinger of great things to come, namely a stormy Solar Max due in 2011 or 2012 when Solar Cycle 24 peaks. The ascent is underway.

more images: from Gernot Lausen of Fleckeby, Schleswig- Holstein, Germany; from Greg Piepol of Rockville, Maryland; from Stephen Ames of Hodgenville, Kentucky; from Cai-Uso Wohler of Bispingen, Germany; from P-M Hedén of Vallentuna, Sweden; from Britta Suhre of Dortmund, Germany; from Carsten Arnholm of Heggedal, Norway; from Cannaerts Patricia of Belgium; from Erika Rix of Zanesville, Ohio;


April 2008 Aurora Gallery
[Aurora Alerts] [Night-sky Cameras]

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. [comment]
On May 4, 2008 there were 949 potentially hazardous asteroids.
May 2008 Earth-asteroid encounters:
Asteroid
Date(UT)
Miss Distance
Mag.
Size
2008 HG
May 5
17 LD
18
90 m
2008 DE
May 9
17 LD
16
550 m
2008 HD2
May 9
6.5 LD
19
40 m
2008 HR3
May 11
3.1 LD
17
50 m
2008 HW1
May 14
72 LD
17
1.4 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 bureau for real-time monitoring of solar and geophysical events, research in solar-terrestrial physics, and forecasting solar and geophysical disturbances.
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.
Daily Sunspot Summaries
  From the NOAA Space Environment Center
Current Solar Images
  from the National Solar Data Analysis Center
  more links...
©2008, SpaceWeather.com -- This site is penned daily by Dr. Tony Phillips.
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