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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Current conditions
Solar wind
speed: 329.6 km/sec
density: 9.6 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2246 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A1
2005 UT Mar07
24-hr: A1
2005 UT Mar07
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2245 UT
Daily Sun: 07 Mar 08
Bipolar sunspot 984 is is about to disappear as it rotates over the sun's western limb. Credit: SOHO/MDI
Sunspot number: 12
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 06 Mar 2008
Far side of the Sun:
This holographic image reveals no large sunspots on the far side of the sun. Image credit: SOHO/MDI
Planetary K-index
Now: Kp= 1 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 1
explanation | more data
Current Auroral Oval:

Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
What is the auroral oval?
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 2.4 nT
Bz: 0.4 nT north
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2246 UT
Coronal Holes:
A solar wind stream flowing from the indicated coronal hole will hit Earth's magnetic field later today or tomorrow. Credit:SOHO Extreme UV Telescope
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2008 Mar 07 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 Mar 07 2203 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
40 %
50 %
20 %
25 %
10 %
15 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
50 %
50 %
25 %
30 %
15 %
20 %

What's up in Space
March 7, 2008
Where's Saturn? Is that a UFO--or the ISS? What's the name of that star? Get the answers from mySKY--a fun new astronomy helper from Meade.   mySKY

HEAVENLY ENCOUNTER: Great beauty can cause loss of balance, so before you click on this link, sit down. Done? That was Comet 17P/Holmes gliding by the California Nebula. The comet-nebula encounter is taking place right now--an easy target for backyard telescopes equipped with digital cameras. Photographers, after sunset, point your optics north at the constellation Perseus: sky map, ephemeris.

AURORA WATCH: Last night the sun's magnetic field near Earth tipped south, opening a crack in our planet's defenses against the solar wind. Charged particles poured in, fueling a brief but beautiful display of aurora borealis:

Photo details: Canon EOS 30D, 15s, 1500 ISO, f3.5

"The lights were fantastic with a lot of colors," reports Sylvain Serre who took the above photo from Salluit in northern Quebec.

The display has subsided, but it could flare up again tonight or tomorrow when a solar wind stream is expected to hit Earth's magnetic field. Sky watchers from Alaska to Scandinavia should remain alert for auroras: gallery.

ZODIACAL LIGHT: This weekend after sunset, look west for a ghostly triangle of light jutting upward from the horizon. If you can see it, you've spotted the Zodiacal Light:

"Here its subtle glow appears over the small-town lights of Borrego Springs in Southern California's Anza-Borrego Desert," says photographer Dennis Mammana. He took the picture, a 30-second exposure, on March 2nd using a Canon 20D at ISO 800.

Zodiacal light is sunlight reflected from dust particles littering the solar system's orbital plane. (These are the same dust particles that make meteors when they occasionally hit Earth's atmosphere.) March is a good month to look because the glowing dust band is oriented nearly vertical at sunset. A trip to the countryside on a moonless March evening often results in a Zodiacal Light sighting. Try it!

more images: from Thorsten Boeckel at the Santa Maria de Santiaguito volcano, Guatemala; from Phillip Chee of South Monaghan, Ontario, Canada; from Doug Zubenel of Linn Co., Kansas; from Ajay Talwar of A.R.I.E.S., Manora Peak, Nainital;

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 March 7, 2008 there were 939 potentially hazardous asteroids.
March 2008 Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
2008 DH5
Mar. 5
7.1 LD
60 m
1620 Geographos
Mar. 17
49 LD
3 km
2003 FY6
Mar. 21
6.3 LD
145 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, -- This site is penned daily by Dr. Tony Phillips.
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