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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Current conditions
Solar wind
speed: 581.2 km/sec
density: 1.6 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2246 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A5
1940 UT Apr16
24-hr: B1
0635 UT Apr16
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2245 UT
Daily Sun: 16 Apr 08
Sunspot 990 is in an advanced state of decay and is no longer visible as a dark spot on the sun. Credit: SOHO/MDI
Sunspot number: 0
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 15 Apr 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= 4 unsettled
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: 3.8 nT
Bz: 0.5 nT south
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2133 UT
Coronal Holes:
There are no well-organized coronal holes on the Earth-facing side of the sun. Credit: SOHO Extreme UV Telescope
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2008 Apr 16 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 Apr 16 2203 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
10 %
10 %
05 %
05 %
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
15 %
15 %
05 %
05 %
01 %
01 %
What's up in Space
April 16, 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.   mySKY

MERCURY AT NOON: Don't look! Today, Mercury is passing just a fraction of a degree from the sun. Bright sunlight hides the conjunction from human eyes; it would literally hurt to look. But the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory, using coronagraphs to block the sun's glare, is able to monitor the passage: image. Join SOHO for a ringside seat.

SOLAR FLARE: Amateur astronomers monitoring the decay of sunspot 990 have just witnessed a bright B2-class solar flare. "It was a beautiful explosion" says Patricia Cannaerts who sends this snapshot from Belgium:

Click to view the movie

"Sunspot 990 is still active," agrees Cai-Uso Wohler of Bispingen, Germany, who caught the same blast through his Coronado SolarMax60: image. It is remarkable that a sunspot so badly decayed is capable of producing such activity. Monitoring is encouraged.

more images: from Pete Lawrence of Selsey, West Sussex, UK; from Malcolm Park of London, England, UK; from J. Fairfull and J. Stetson of South Portland, Maine; from Stephen Ames of Hodgenville, KY; from Jan Timmermans of Valkenswaard, The Netherlands;

LUNAR X: It's such a familiar sight, we often forget there's an alien world in our own backyard: the Moon. It's there tonight, almost full. Scan the Moon with an ordinary pair of binoculars or a small telescope and you will observe a fantastic landscape of lava seas, ancient craters, deep valleys and towering mountains.

And don't forget the Lunar X:

Amateur astronomer Dennis Fell of Wetaskiwin, Alberta, took this picture on April 12th. "It was an excellent night for binocular viewing," he says. "The 'X' was very pronounced."

Once a month when the sun rises over Crater Werner in the Moon's southern hemisphere, sunlight floods the region's high terrain and makes an X. The effect lasts only about two hours so careful timing and a little luck is required to catch it. "Observing the 'X' has little or no scientific value. It is a trick of the light. But the effect is striking, and it is exciting to rediscover each month," writes David Chapman in "A Fleeting Vision near Crater Werner" (Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Vol. 101, Issue 2, p.51).

The next viewing opportunity occurs May 12, 2008, around 1530 UT. Mark your calendar with an X.

more X-images: from Jeff Barton of Comanche Springs Astronomy Campus, Three Rivers Foundation for the Arts & Sciences, near Crowell, Texas; from Enrique Luque Cervigón of Alcalá de Henares, Madrid, Spain; from Tom Faller of Newnan, GA;

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 April 16, 2008 there were 947 potentially hazardous asteroids.
April 2008 Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
2008 FH5
Apr. 2
7.6 LD
17 m
2001 QO142
Apr. 6
34 LD
685 m
2008 GF1
Apr. 7
0.8 LD
10 m
2005 BE2
Apr. 10
62 LD
1.0 km
2005 NB7
Apr. 17
16 LD
705 m
2008 FU6
Apr. 22
62 LD
1.4 km
2005 TB
Apr. 28
47 LD
1.3 km
2001 DQ8
Apr. 30
74 LD
1.1 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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