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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Current conditions
Solar wind
speed: 634.5 km/sec
density: 1.9 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2246 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: B3
1650 UT Mar27
24-hr: B4
1635 UT Mar27
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2245 UT
Daily Sun: 27 Mar 08
Sunspot 989 harbors energy for M-class solar flares. Credit: SOHO/MDI
Sunspot number: 63
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 26 Mar 2008
Far side of the Sun:
This holographic image reveals one possible sunspot on the far side of the sun. Image credit: SOHO/MDI
Planetary K-index
Now: Kp= 4 unsettled
24-hr max: Kp= 6
explanation | more data
Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
What is the auroral oval?
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 5.1 nT
Bz: 0.8 nT south
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2247 UT
Coronal Holes:
A solar wind stream flowing from the indicated coronal hole could reach Earth on March 28th or 29th. Credit:SOHO Extreme UV Telescope
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2008 Mar 27 2203 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
15 %
15 %
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 27 2203 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
25 %
15 %
10 %
05 %
05 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
30 %
20 %
15 %
10 %
10 %
05 %
What's up in Space
March 27, 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

JULES VERNE DOCKING: On March 31st, the European Space Agency's Jules Verne cargo carrier will approach the International Space Station (ISS) stopping only 12 meters from the docking port and then backing away again. This is practice for the first real automated docking attempt on April 3rd. Sky watchers, check for ISS flybys over your location on those dates; you may be able to witness the docking maneuvers with your own eyes: more.

AURORA WATCH: Sky watchers around the Arctic Circle should be alert for auroras tonight. A solar wind stream is buffeting Earth's magnetic field and causing geomagnetic storms. Here is a snapshot of the sky last night in Salluit, Nunavik, Quebec:

"It was absolutely fabulous--a clear sky, a lot of friends and lots of northern lights!" says Sylvain Serre who took the picture using a Canon EOS 30D set at ISO 800 for 6 seconds. Browse our updated gallery for more scenes from the North:

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

OLD SOLAR ACTIVITY: This week, three big sunspots are crossing the face of the sun and on March 25th one of them (989) produced a strong M-class solar flare. Many readers have asked, is this the new solar cycle? No, it's the old one. Although Solar Cycle 24 has begun, these are not Cycle 24 spots. Their magnetic polarity associates them with old Cycle 23:

The magnetic map, above, was made by the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) just this morning. It shows the north and south magnetic poles of the three sunspots. All are oriented according to the patterns of Solar Cycle 23. Cycle 24 spots would be reversed.

What's going on? We have two solar cycles active at the same time. Solar Cycle 24 has begun, but Solar Cycle 23 has not ended. This is perfectly normal. Around the time of solar minimum--i.e., now--old-cycle spots and new-cycle spots frequently intermingle. Eventually Cycle 23 will fade to zero, but not yet.

NOAA forecasters estimate a 50% chance of more "old" M-flares during the next 24 hours. Readers, if you have a solar telescope, now is a good time to monitor the sun.

BONUS: During the M-flare of March 25th, radio astronomer Thomas Ashcraft heard a curious "heaving sound" coming from the loudspeaker of his 21 MHz radio telescope in New Mexico: listen. "It was a Type II solar radio burst," he explains. The burst was generated by a shock wave at the leading edge of a CME produced by the explosion: movie.

more images: from Mark Sibole of Fife Lake Michigan; from J├Ârgen Blom of Stockholm, Sweden; from Masa Nakamura of Otawara, Tochigi, Japan; from Monty Leventhal of Sydney. Australia; from Matthias Juergens of Gnevsdorf, Germany; from Pavol Rapavy of Rimavski Sobota, Slovakia; from Malcolm Park of London, England, UK; from David Thomas of Lynchburg, Virginia;

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 27, 2008 there were 943 potentially hazardous asteroids.
March 2008 Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
2008 DH5
Mar. 5
7.1 LD
60 m
2008 EZ7
Mar. 9
0.4 LD
18 m
2008 ED8
Mar. 10
1.4 LD
64 m
2008 EF32
Mar. 10
0.2 LD
6 m
2008 EM68
Mar. 10
0.6 LD
12 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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