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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Current conditions
Solar wind
speed: 577.0 km/sec
density: 2.7 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2255 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A3
1820 UT Jan12
24-hr: A3
1820 UT Jan12
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2245 UT
Daily Sun: 12 Jan 08
Yesterday's reversed-polarity sunspot has faded away, leaving the sun blank--no sunspots. Credit: SOHO/MDI
Sunspot number: 0
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 11 Jan 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= 3 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 4
explanation | more data
Current Auroral Oval:

Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
What is the auroral oval?
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 5.4 nT
Bz: 3.8 nT south
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2256 UT
Coronal Holes:
A solar wind stream flowing from the indicated coronal hole will reach Earth on or about Jan. 14th. Credit: Hinode X-Ray Telescope.
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2008 Jan 12 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 12 2203 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
20 %
15 %
15 %
10 %
05 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
25 %
20 %
20 %
15 %
10 %
05 %

What's up in Space
January 12, 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 from Alaska to Scandinavia should be alert for auroras on Jan. 14th and 15th. A solar wind stream is heading toward Earth and might spark a geomagnetic storm when it arrives 2 to 3 days from now.

SOLAR ACTIVITY: A new solar cycle has begun, but so far it has produced no photogenic sunspots. Indeed, the face of the sun is disinterestingly blank. Sun-photographer Larry Alvarez of Flower Mound, Texas, found the scene he was looking for, however, on the sun's limb:

"I captured these prominences on Jan. 11th using my Coronado SolarMax90," says Alvarez. "Their ghostly appearance was striking against the the black background of space."

Prominences are clouds of solar hydrogen held above the sun's surface by magnetic fields. They are present during all phases of the solar cycle--from maximum to minimum and back again. No sunspots? No problem. Photographers, when the sun is blank, look to the limb.

NO TELESCOPE REQUIRED: Long-fading Comet 17P/Holmes is still visible to the naked eye. Toni Scarmato sends this photo from Calabria, Italy. "I estimate its visual magnitude to be +3.5." This means the comet is easy to see from the dark countryside (look straight up after sunset) but a challenge from cities.

On Jan. 11th, P-M Hedén visited a 1000-year-old Viking church near Vallentuna, Sweden, and found the pointed roof leading his gaze straight up to Holmes:

"Standing inside that church, looking up into the sky to see the stars, planets and a comet felt really special," he says. The photo required no telescope, just an off-the-shelf Canon Digital Rebel XT.

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

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 12, 2008 there were 917 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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