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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: 331.4 km/sec
density: 1.7 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2246 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A0
2245 UT Aug04
24-hr: A0
2245 UT Aug04
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2245 UT
Daily Sun: 04 Aug 08
The sun is blank--no sunspots. Credit: SOHO/MDI
Sunspot number: 0
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 04 Aug. 2008
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
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: 2.9 nT
Bz: 0.1 nT south
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2246 UT
Coronal Holes:
A solar wind stream flowing from the indicated coronal hole could reach Earth on August 10th. Credit: SOHO Extreme UV Telescope
SPACE WEATHER
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2008 Aug 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 Aug 04 2203 UTC
Mid-latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
ACTIVE
01 %
01 %
MINOR
01 %
01 %
SEVERE
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
ACTIVE
01 %
01 %
MINOR
01 %
01 %
SEVERE
01 %
01 %
What's up in Space
August 4, 2008
AURORA ALERTS: Did you miss the Northern Lights of July 12th? Next time get a wake-up call from Space Weather PHONE.  

ISS FLYBYS: If you live in North America, be alert for the ISS this week. The International Space Station is making a series of bright passes over the continent, visible in the evening sky if you know when to look. Check the Simple Satellite Tracker for flyby times.

TERRIFYING CLOUDS: In ancient times, solar eclipses terrified superstitious onlookers. The sun turning into an inky-black hole in the sky couldn't be a good sign, could it? Now we know better.

Yet last Friday, moments before totality, thousands of modern sky watchers felt like ancient peasants. They were frightened by the clouds:

"We almost missed the eclipse," says David Leong of Yiwu, China. "This picture shows the terrifying cloud that almost covered the Sun."

Fortunately, the overcast was incomplete. The Moon's cool shadow swept across the landscape, the sun's mysteriously-hot corona sprang into view, and thousands of cameras were heard to click. Two tembling minutes later, it was over, but the gallery continues to grow.

UPDATED: Solar Eclipse Photo Gallery
[interactive eclipse map]

NEW MEXICO FIREBALL: This morning, Aug. 4th, a bright fireball streaked across the skies of New Mexico. Amateur radio astronomer Thomas Ashcraft captured its flight using an automated all-sky camera. Moreover, using receivers tuned to 61 and 83 MHz, he recorded the "sweet stereophonic shimmering" echoes of distant radio stations bouncing off the fireball's ionized trail. Click on the snapshot for a movie with sound:

As regular readers know, the annual Perseid meteor shower begins this week, slowly at first, with no more than a few meteors per hour, then building to a peak of dozens to hundreds per hour on Tuesday, August 12th. The source of the shower is Comet Swift-Tuttle, which has littered the August portion of Earth's orbit with space dust.

But "this fireball was not a Perseid," notes Ashcraft. It did not fly out of the constellation Perseus as a genuine speck of Comet Swift-Tuttle would do. Instead, it was probably a random piece of comet or asteroid, not part of any organized debris stream. Every hour of every night, a few such "sporadic meteors" can be seen from any location on Earth. Most are feeble, but some produce brilliant fireballs, as shown.

Keep an eye on the sky in the nights ahead. The rate of meteors great and small is on the rise.

more images: from Peter van Leuteren of Roque de los Muchachos - La Palma, Spain; from Mark Seibold of Portland, Oregon; from Brian Emfinger of Ozark, Arkansas; from Bob Dzuricky of Erie, Pennsylvania

       
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 August 4, 2008 , there were 968 potentially hazardous asteroids.
July 2008 Earth-asteroid encounters:
Asteroid
Date(UT)
Miss Distance
Mag.
Size
2003 YE45
July 13
16.5 LD
15
1.4 km
2008 BT18
July 14
5.9 LD
13
1.0 km
2003 LC5
July 15
62 LD
16
1.4 km
2008 NP3
July 17
6.8 LD
18
85 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 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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