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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Current conditions
Solar wind
speed: 636.6 km/sec
density: 3.8 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2243 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A0
2245 UT Jan17
24-hr: A0
2245 UT Jan17
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2245 UT
Daily Sun: 17 Jan 08
The sun is blank--no sunspots. Credit: SOHO/MDI
Sunspot number: 0
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 16 Jan 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= 2 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 3
explanation | more data
Current Auroral Oval:

Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
What is the auroral oval?
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 4.7 nT
Bz: 0.5 nT south
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2245 UT
Coronal Holes:
Earth is inside a solar wind stream flowing from the indicated coronal hole. Credit: Hinode X-Ray Telescope.
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2008 Jan 17 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 Jan 17 2203 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
20 %
20 %
10 %
10 %
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
25 %
25 %
15 %
15 %
01 %
01 %

What's up in Space
January 17, 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.

AURORA WATCH: Sky watchers in Russia, Scandinavia, Canadas and Alaska should be alert for auroras tonight. A fast solar wind stream is blowing against Earth and causing high-latitude geomagnetic storms: gallery.

SUNSET PLANET: Looking for Mercury? Finding it is child's play:

These are the children of Swedish astrophotographer P-M Hedén pointing out Mercury to their dad just a few hours ago. Mercury, so often lost in the glare of the sun, is putting on a rare evening sky show this month, popping into view above the western horizon as soon as the sun goes down. (Tip: Binoculars can help you find Mercury while the twilight is still bright.)

"I had a lovely evening with my children looking at the sky," says Hedén. "We saw Mercury, Mars, the Pleiades and the Moon."

ECHOES OF RAINBOW: "Riding home on the bus this afternoon, I noticed a strange rainbow," reports Darryl Luscombe of Vancouver, British Columbia. The 'bow appeared not just once, but many times, seeming to echo into the distance. "I pulled out my new pocket-sized digital camera (a Canon SD1000) and snapped some pictures."

What are these echoes of rainbow?

Atmospheric optics expert Les Cowley answers: "The multiple arcs are called supernumerary rainbows. They were so named because early natural philosophers could not explain them and considered that they should not be there. They are a diffraction pattern produced when rays passing through small raindrops overlap and interfere. If we are lucky we see one or two, these widely spaced multiple ones are exceptional and tell us that the raindrops were very small and, more unusually, all of the same size."

Comet 17P/Holmes Photo Gallery
[World Map of Comet Sightings]
[sky map] [ephemeris] [3D orbit] [comet binoculars]

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 January 17, 2008 there were 918 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Jan. 2008 Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
2005 WJ56
Jan. 10
10.9 LD
1.2 km
2008 AF3
Jan. 13
1.0 LD
27 m
1685 Toro
Jan. 24
76 LD
6.2 km
2007 TU24
Jan. 29
1.4 LD
400 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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