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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Current conditions
Solar wind
speed: 336.6 km/sec
density: 4.8 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2246 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A0
2245 UT Jul03
24-hr: A0
1450 UT Jul03
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2245 UT
Daily Sun: 03 Jul 08
The sun is blank--no sunspots. Credit: SOHO/MDI
Sunspot number: 0
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 02 July 2008
Far side of the Sun:
This holographic image reveals a possible sunspot group 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: 2.6 nT
Bz: 1.1 nT south
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2246 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: 2008 Jul 03 2203 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: 2008 Jul 03 2203 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
15 %
10 %
05 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
20 %
10 %
10 %
05 %
01 %
01 %
What's up in Space
July 3, 2008
AURORA ALERTS: Did you miss the Northern Lights of June 25th? Next time get a wake-up call from Space Weather PHONE.  

PLANETS ALIGN FOR THE 4th OF JULY: Look beyond the fireworks on 4th of July weekend. A trio of worlds is converging for a pretty sunset sky show: full story. [Sky maps: July 4, 5, 6]

NOCTILUCENT STORM: A veritable storm of noctilucent cloud (NLC) activity is taking place over Europe this week. "On July 2nd, the bands were so bright and compact, they seemed to cast their own shadows on the sky," says John McConnell of Maghaberry, N. Ireland: photo. "I've been observing NLCs for forty years, and I have never seen that before." In Szubin, Poland, electric-blue tendrils swirled out of the sunset, forming an octopus-like display "over 90o wide and 40o high," says Marek Nikodem, who captured the scene using his Nikon D50:

Normally confined to high latitudes, the glowing clouds have spread as far south as France. "On June 30th, I saw NLCs for the first time," reports Laurent Laveder of Quimper, France: photo. "It was an exceptional night!" Near Montpellier in the south of France, Guillaume Cannat photographed an even brighter display: photo. "I did not think we could see noctilucent clouds so far from the pole," he marvels.

The upshot is, if you live in Europe, be alert for NLCs. Observing tips may be found in the photo gallery:

2008 Noctilucent Photo Gallery
[NLC Tutorial] [Night-sky Cameras]

EARTH AT APHELION: Earth's orbit around the sun is not a perfect circle, it's an ellipse, and on July 4th, Earth will be at the end of the ellipse farthest from the sun. Astronomers call this "aphelion." When we are at aphelion, the sun appears smaller in the sky (by 1.7%) and global solar heating is actually a little less (by 3.5%) than the yearly average. This provides scant relief from northern summer heat, however; click here for reasons why.

To commemorate the aphelion of 2008, last week Greek amateur astronomer Anthony Ayiomamitis photographed the sun setting behind the Portara, entrance to the 2500-yr-old Temple of Apollo on the Greek island of Naxos:

"The white sun, virtually at aphelion, seemed to pass right through the Portara," says Ayiomamitis. "The presence of tourists in the foreground enriched the scene with the silhouettes they cast while marveling at the sunset." Even a little sun is a big beauty!

more images: from Chris Kotsiopoulos on Naxos island, Greece; from Konstantinos Christodoulopoulos on the Greek island of Naxos

June 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.
On July 3, 2008 , there were 960 potentially hazardous asteroids.
July 2008 Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
2003 YE45
July 13
16.5 LD
1.4 km
2008 BT18
July 14
5.9 LD
1.0 km
2003 LC5
July 15
62 LD
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, -- This site is penned daily by Dr. Tony Phillips.
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