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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Current conditions
Solar wind
speed: 330.8 km/sec
density: 0.8 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2246 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A0
1805 UT Nov18
24-hr: A0
1805 UT Nov18
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2245 UT
Daily Sun: 17 Nov 08
New-cycle sunspot 1008 is disappearing over the sun's western limb. Credit: SOHO/MDI

more images: from David Leong of Hong Kong; from Greg Piepol of Rockville, Maryland;
Sunspot number: 11
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 17 Nov. 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= 0 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 0
explanation | more data
Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
What is the auroral oval?
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 3.2 nT
Bz: 1.6 nT north
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2247 UT
Coronal Holes:
There are no coronal holes on the Earth-facing side of the sun. Credit: Hinode X-ray Telescope
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2008 Nov 18 2201 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 Nov 18 2201 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
05 %
05 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
05 %
05 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
What's up in Space
November 18, 2008
NORTHERN LIGHTS: Did you sleep through the auroras of November? Next time get a wake-up call: Spaceweather PHONE.  

SEE THE SPACE STATION: Space shuttle Endeavour docked to the International Space Station on Sunday, Nov. 16th, delivering a new crew member and 14,000+ pounds of equipment and supplies to the outpost. Joined together, the two spacecraft are among the brightest objects in the night sky, rivaling Venus in luminosity. Check the Simple Satellite Tracker for flyby times.

photos: from Becky Ramotowski of Tijeras, New Mexico; from Ben Cooper at the Wright Flyer replica in Daytona, Florida; from Adrian New of San Antonio, Texas;

MYSTERY MOON OF VENUS: The second planet from the sun has no moon, yet last night, Nov. 17th, Venus did have a companion. John Stetson photographed the duo shining through the cobalt-blue twilight skies of Portland, Maine:

There's no real moon mystery here. Venus' temporary sidekick was 3rd-magnitude star λ Sagittarii located 77 light years from Earth. Venus passes by λ Sagittarii from time to time. In 1984 Venus completely eclipsed the star; last night the separation was a relatively spacious 0.1o.

This conjunction is finished but Venus is heading for an even more spectacular pairing with Jupiter at the end of the month. Go outside tonight and look into the glow of sunset. You can actually see the two planets rushing together, their separation shrinking noticeably from night to night. The climax occurs on Dec. 1st when the crescent Moon leaps up from the horizon to join them for a three-way conjunction of unforgettable beauty. Keep an eye on the sunset! Sky maps: Nov 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, Dec 1.

more images: from Jonathan Sabin of Ellenton, Florida; from Doug Zubenel of De Soto, Kansas; from Daniel Strehle of Augsburg, Bavaria, Germany; from Tamas Ladanyi of Veszpremfajsz, Hungary; from Becky Ramotowski of Tijeras, New Mexico; from Pavel Klimes of Hostivice, Czech Republic; from Thomas Filbey of Papillion, Nebraska;

SOMETHING FISHY IN THE SKY: When you run into a thousand penguins all staring at the sky, two words come to mind: flying fish. But on Oct. 28th, photographer Steve Shuey caught the flightless birds of South Georgia Island staring up at something else: atmospheric optics. "The sun had just risen," he says, "when this fogbow appeared in the mist."

Photo details: Canon 5D, ISO 160, 1/500th sec, f/11

"A fogbow is like a rainbow except that the fog droplets making them are a hundred times smaller than raindrops," explains atmospheric optics expert Les Cowley. "Wave interference inside the tiny droplets smears the bow into a broad and almost-colorless band. You do not need to be in penguin-land to see a fogbow. Look for them whenever a low sun starts to shine through morning mist."

more images: from Mila Zinkova on South Georgia Island; from Wade B Clark Jr of Burlington, Washington; from Bill Smith of Cherry Creek, New York; from Frank Ryan Jr of The Burren, Co. Clare, Ireland

Nov. 2008 Aurora Gallery
[Previous Novembers: 2007, 2006, 2004, 2003, 2001, 2000]

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 November 18, 2008 there were 997 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Nov. 2008 Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
2008 TX3
Nov. 1
9 LD
45 m
2008 UT95
Nov. 2
1.5 LD
15 m
2008 UC7
Nov. 2
4.5 LD
17 m
2008 VM
Nov. 3
0.1 LD
4 m
2008 VA4
Nov. 4
7.7 LD
49 m
2008 VB4
Nov. 4
1.3 LD
10 m
2008 VC
Nov. 4
4.4 LD
18 m
4179 Toutatis
Nov. 9
20 LD
3.8 km
2008 VZ3
Nov. 22
5.7 LD
55 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 space weather bureau
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.
  3D views of the sun from NASA's Solar and Terrestrial Relations Observatory
Daily Sunspot Summaries
  from the NOAA Space Environment Center
Current Solar Images
  from the National Solar Data Analysis Center
Science Central
  a one-stop hub for all things scientific
  more links...
©2008, -- This site is penned daily by Dr. Tony Phillips.
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