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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Current conditions
Solar wind
speed: 339.6 km/sec
density: 2.9 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2245 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A0
2245 UT Oct16
24-hr: A0
2245 UT Oct16
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2245 UT
Daily Sun: 16 Oct 07
The sun is blank--no sunspots. Credit: SOHO/MDI
Sunspot number: 0
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 15 Oct 2007
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= 0 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 1
explanation | more data
Current Auroral Oval:

Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
Updated: 2007 Oct 16 2045 UT
What is the auroral oval?
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 3.8 nT
Bz: 0.6 nT south
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2246 UT
Coronal Holes:
A solar wind stream flowing from the indicated coronal hole could reach Earth as early as Oct. 18th. Credit: Hinode X-ray Telescope
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2007 Oct 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: 2007 Oct 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 %
10 %
10 %
05 %
05 %

What's up in Space
October 16, 2007
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: A solar wind stream is heading for Earth and it could spark geomagnetic storms when it arrives on Oct. 18th or 19th. High-latitude sky watchers, be alert for auroras.

EARLY ORIONIDS: On Oct. 15th, a bright meteor raced out of the constellation Orion over Ozark, Arkansas, where photographer Brian Emfinger caught it in mid-flight:

Photo details: Canon Digital Rebel XT, fisheye lens, ISO 1600, F3.5, 30 secs

That streak of light is very likely a piece of Halley's Comet. Every year in October, Earth passes through a stream of Halley's dusty debris, giving rise to the Orionid meteor shower. This year, the display is expected to peak on Oct. 21st, but some of the meteors may be arriving early. "My camera captured three more Orionids on Oct. 13th," says Emfinger, while Doug Zubenel reports seeing at least ten Orionids from the 24th annual Okie-Tex Star Party on Oct. 10th.

Do early Orionids bode well for peak-night? There's one way to find out: Watch the sky during the dark hours before sunrise on Sunday, Oct. 21st. If 2007 is like 2006, observers can expect 20 to 50 Orionids per hour: sky map.

BLUE SUNRISE: Amateur astronomer Jan Lameer has been in the French Alps lately photographing Comet LONEOS. On Oct. 12th, he witnessed something that took his mind off comets: "The sun was rising over the top of Mont Viso and for a moment it appeared to be blue!"

Photo details: Nikon D1H, 200 ISO, 600mm telephoto lens

"This is a very rare blue solar rim," says atmospheric optics expert Les Cowley.

Most readers have heard of a green rim. "From ground level, the rising or setting sun has an upper green rim because our lens-like atmosphere bends green light more than red. It is usually too thin to see and must be magnified by a mirage to make a green flash."

Blue is bent even more than green, but we don't often see the sun's blue rim because it is wiped out by atmospheric scattering--in other words, it is blended into blue sky.

So why did this blue rim show itself to Jan Lameer? "Three effects conspired to produce the blue rim," explains Cowley. "First, the 15 km distant mountain ridge screened off the sun’s disk letting Jan, for a few moments, see only its colored rim. Second, winds blowing across the ridge might have generated a small air density gradient to help spread the colors. Finally, the exceptionally clear mountain air let through the blue-green rays normally scattered away by the lower atmosphere, allowing him to see a beautiful blue-green diamond flare."

"I've seen the blue flash at the mountain peak for three mornings in succession this week," says Lameer. "We have very clear weather at the moment." Oh, to be in the Alps!

more images: from Robert Wagner at the Observatorio del Roque de los Muchachos, Canary Island of La Palma, Spain; from Alfredo Garcia Jr of Hermosa Beach, California; from Maxime Spano of La Palma Observatory, Spain.

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 16, 2007 there were 896 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Oct.-Nov. 2007 Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
2007 TL16
Oct. 5
1.6 LD
27 m
2007 TC14
Oct. 18
11.7 LD
180 m
2340 Hathor
Oct. 22
23.3 LD
620 m
2005 GL
Nov. 8
8.0 LD
280 m
1989 UR
Nov. 24
27.6 LD
880 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 Environment 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...
©2007, -- This site is penned daily by Dr. Tony Phillips.
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