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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Current conditions
Solar wind
speed: 358.9 km/sec
density: 2.5 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2115 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A0
2245 UT Oct14
24-hr: A1
1220 UT Oct14
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2245 UT
Daily Sun: 14 Oct 08
New-cycle sunspot 1005 is beginning to fade away. Credit: SOHO/MDI

more images:
from Andreas Murner of Lale Chiemsee, Bavaria, Germany; from Mike Taormina of Palatine, Illinois; from Robert Arnold on the Isle of Skye, Scotland; from Guenter Kleinschuster of Feldbach, Austria; from Pavol Rapavy of Rimavska Sobota, Slovakia; from Stephen Ames of Hodgenville, Kentucky;
Sunspot number: 15
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 13 Oct. 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= 1 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 2
explanation | more data
Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
What is the auroral oval?
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 4.7 nT
Bz: 0.9 nT north
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2116 UT
Coronal Holes:
Earth is exiting a solar wind stream flowing from the indicated coronal hole. Credit: SOHO Extreme UV Telescope
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2008 Oct 14 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 Oct 14 2201 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
10 %
10 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
10 %
10 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
What's up in Space
October 14, 2008
BEHOLD THE SUN: Would you like to see fiery prominences and new-cycle sunspots with your own eyes? On sale now: Personal Solar Telescopes.  

HUNTER'S MOON: According to folklore, tonight's full moon is the "Hunter's Moon," because it illuminates the evening landscape for hunters of autumn wildlife. Go outside and take a look--but leave the guns inside. The best shot to take is with a camera. Frosty autumn air combines with Hunter's moonlight to decorate the night sky with ice halos, lunar coronas and moondogs. Let the hunt begin!

moon photos: from P-M Hedén of Vallentuna, Sweden; from C.J. Wood of Ridgely, Maryland; from Stanislaw Rokita of Torun, Poland; from Mark D. Marquette of Boones Creek, Tennessee; from Phillip Chee of Peterborough, Ontario; from Catalin M. Timosca of Turda, Romania; from Jay Johnson of Bloomsbury, NJ; from Mila Zinkova of San Francisco, California;

MONSTER STORMS ON SATURN: New images from NASA's Cassini spacecraft reveal that both of Saturn's poles are ringed by "monstrous cyclones" hundreds of times stronger than the biggest hurricanes on Earth. In this side-looking view, shadows highlight the topography of Saturn's south polar vortex:

On the other end of the planet, a north polar storm is circumscribed by a strange cloudy hexagon that remains fixed in place while 300 mph winds swirl inside it. At the moment, Saturn's north pole is shrouded in darkness because it is winter there, but Cassini's infra-red cameras were able to photograph the vortex anyway by sensing the heat it emits into the night: movie.

Researchers think these giant weather systems might powered by deep-seated thunderstorms, although no one can say for sure; the base of the vortices are too deep and cloudy to see. Get the full story from NASA.

GEOMAGNETIC STORM: This past weekend when magnetometer needles began to swing at the Polar Light Center in Lofoten, Norway, researcher Rob Stammes knew something was up. "A geomagnetic storm was underway," he says. (continued below)

The storm began on Oct. 11th when a solar wind stream hit Earth's magnetic field. Stammes' magnetometer recorded the impact and subsequent reverberations, which lasted for hours. In the chart recording, above, red shows how the local magnetic field was swinging back and forth while blue denotes electrical currents surging through the ground in response. Outside, Northern Lights were pulsating in sych with the chart recorder's colored pens. "Ground currents fluctuated with a 5-to-10 second period; the visible auroras were switching on and off in the same way," he says. "It was a really special sight." Browse the gallery for more:

Oct. 2008 Aurora Gallery
[Previous Octobers: 2007, 2006, 2004, 2003, 2002, 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 October 14, 2008 there were 990 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Oct. 2008 Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
2008 QS11
Oct. 2
11 LD
470 m
2008 SH148
Oct. 4
5.8 LD
26 m
2005 GN59
Oct. 6
20 LD
1.4 km
2008 TC3
Oct. 7
3 m
2008 TZ
Oct. 10
5.3 LD
37 m
1999 VP11
Oct. 16
72 LD
860 m
2001 UY4
Oct. 18
74 LD
1.1 km
Comet Barnard-Boattini
Oct. 22
75 LD
2008 TT26
Oct. 23
3.6 LD
70 m
2000 EX106
Oct. 23
69 LD
1.1 km
2005 VN
Oct. 29
4.1 LD
116 m
4179 Toutatis
Nov. 9
20 LD
3.8 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 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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