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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Current conditions
Solar wind
speed: 602.2 km/sec
density: 1.3 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2242 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: B1
1650 UT Jan07
24-hr: C1
1525 UT Jan07
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2245 UT
Daily Sun: 07 Jan 08
High-latitude sunspot 981--the first sunspot of the next solar cycle--is rapidly fading away. Credit: SOHO/MDI
Sunspot number: 12
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 05 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= 1 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 4
explanation | more data
Current Auroral Oval:

Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
Updated: 2008 Jan 07 2124 UT
What is the auroral oval?
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 3.9 nT
Bz: 1.3 nT north
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2245 UT
Coronal Holes:
Earth is inside a solar wind stream flowing from the indicated coronal hole. Credit: SOHO Extreme UV Telescope
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2008 Jan 07 2203 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
05 %
05 %
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 07 2203 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
30 %
25 %
15 %
10 %
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
35 %
25 %
15 %
10 %
10 %
05 %

What's up in Space
January 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.

ASTEROID FLYBY: On Jan. 10th, asteroid 2005 WJ56 will fly past Earth only 2.6 million miles away. There's no danger of a collision, but the kilometer-wide space rock will be close enough for experienced amateur astronomers to photograph as it glides through the constellation Taurus glowing like an 11th magnitude star. Last night, Gunnar Glitscher of Darmstadt, Germany, made this movie of 2005 WJ56. "On Jan. 8th at 23:30 UTC, the fast-moving asteroid can be observed with mid-sized telescopes less than 1o northwest of the bright star cluster M36," he notes. [ephemeris] [3D orbit]

FIRST LIGHT: A new solar cycle has begun and already it has produced its first light--an outbreak of auroras on Jan. 5th. "It was a nice flowing display that persisted for an hour and a half," reports photographer Calvin Hall of Palmer, Alaska. "A Great Horned Owl would hoot when the auroras were most active."

The lights were sparked by a solar wind stream that hit Earth late on Jan. 4th. Our planet is still inside the stream, which means more auroras are possible tonight. High-latitude sky watchers, when the owl hoots, look up!

January 2008 Aurora Gallery
[aurora alerts] [Night-sky Cameras]

SOUTHERN SUNDOG: It's high summer in Australia, but there is still ice in the air. Photographer Tim Thorp sends the proof from Bull Creek Ranges, South Australia:

The luminous ring around the sun is caused by sunlight passing through ice crystals in high clouds. "It was visually spectacular," says Thorp, who took the picture using his Nikon D70 set at ISO 200.

And, no, that's not a sundog. Thorp's furry sidekick "will have to wait several hours to see its companion in the sky because sun dogs cannot form when the sun is so high," explains atmospheric optics expert Les Cowley. "This is a circumscribed halo, a high-sun version of a tangent arc."

Comet 17P/Holmes Photo Gallery
[World Map of Comet Sightings]
[sky map] [ephemeris] [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.
On January 7, 2008 there were 916 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Jan. 2008 Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
2005 WJ56
Jan. 10
10.9 LD
1.2 km
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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