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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Current conditions
Solar wind
speed: 553.5 km/sec
density: 3.7 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2244 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A0
1950 UT May03
24-hr: A0
1950 UT May03
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2245 UT
Daily Sun: 03 May 08
The sun is blank--no sunspots. Credit: SOHO/MDI
Sunspot number: 0
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 03 May 2008
Far side of the Sun:
This holographic image reveals no sunspots on the farside of the sun. Image credit: SOHO/MDI
Planetary K-index
Now: Kp= 3 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: 6.5 nT
Bz: 1.5 nT north
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2246 UT
Coronal Holes:
A solar wind flowing from the indicated coronal hole should reach Earth on or about May 5th. Credit: SOHO Extreme UV Telescope
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2008 May 03 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 May 03 2203 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
15 %
10 %
05 %
05 %
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
35 %
15 %
20 %
05 %
10 %
01 %
What's up in Space
May 3, 2008
MOTHER'S DAY: Give your mom a truly heavenly gift on May 11th--a subscription to Space Weather PHONE!  

SOLAR ACTIVITY: "There are some interesting prominences on the sun today," reports Joel Bavais of Belgium who sends a two-hour animation of his favorite one. Readers, if you have a solar telescope, train it on the edge of the sun and catch the action.

ISS MOVIE: This morning when the International Space Station (ISS) flew over Japan, amateur astronomer Makoto Yamasaki was waiting with his 6-inch telescope and he made this movie through light clouds. "The ISS was clearly visible," says Yamasaki. A spaceship visible through clouds? The ISS is that bright. See for yourself.

MERCURY RISING: Lately, have you noticed a bright star hanging in the western sky at sunset? That's no star--it's Mercury. The innermost planet is emerging from the glare of the sun and putting on its best show of 2008. Here is the view on May 2nd from Tijeras, New Mexico:

"I used a simple setup: a Nikon D70 with a 180mm lens at f/4 on a tripod for 2 seconds and....voila!" says photographer Becky Ramotowski. In her snapshot, Mercury is on the left and the Pleaides on the right.

Mercury will be visible every night for the next two weeks, but there is one night better than the others: May 6th when the crescent Moon glides by Mercury forming a beautiful eye-catching duo. Mark your calendar and take a look: sky map.

more images: from Pete Lawrence of Selsey, West Sussex, UK; from G√ľnther Strauch of Borken, NRW, Germany

PHOTO-OP: Massive asteroid Iris is approaching the Sombrero Galaxy and on May 9th they will gather in the midnight sky just a fraction of a degree apart. Last night, German astrophotographer Martin Wagner photographed the pair converging:

He used a 10-inch telescope and a Canon EOS 300D camera to photograph the 9th-magnitude ensemble. "I invite others to take extraordinary photos with better equipment than I have!" he says.

In the nights ahead, the asteroid will seem to barely miss the galaxy. In fact, they are separated by a staggering gulf. The Sombrero Galaxy is 30 million light years from Earth while asteroid Iris is only 16 light minutes away--a distance ratio of 1012 and a total difference of more than 1020 km. Suffice it to say there is no danger of a collision.

Astronomers, to view the encounter, set your goto telescope to "M104", the Messier catalogue number of the Sombrero Galaxy. Your target lies in the constellation Virgo, almost due south at midnight, Point, click, and submit your images.

more images: from Garrett Grainger of New Smyrna Beach, FL

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

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 May 3, 2008 there were 949 potentially hazardous asteroids.
May 2008 Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
2008 HG
May 5
17 LD
90 m
2008 DE
May 9
17 LD
550 m
2008 HD2
May 9
6.5 LD
40 m
2008 HR3
May 11
3.1 LD
50 m
2008 HW1
May 14
72 LD
1.4 km
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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