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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Current conditions
Solar wind
speed: 457.2 km/sec
density: 2.9 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2246 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A0
2245 UT Jul17
24-hr: A0
2245 UT Jul17
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2245 UT
Daily Sun: 17 Jul 08
The sun is blank--no sunspots. Credit: SOHO/MDI
Sunspot number: 0
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 14 July 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= 2 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: 2.3 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 should reach Earth on or about July 19th. Credit: SOHO Extreme UV Telescope
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2008 Jul 17 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 Jul 17 2203 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
10 %
10 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
30 %
10 %
10 %
05 %
05 %
01 %
What's up in Space
July 17, 2008
AURORA ALERTS: Did you miss the Northern Lights of July 12th? Next time get a wake-up call from Space Weather PHONE.  

BRIGHT LIGHTS IN THE NIGHT SKY: Jupiter, the full Moon, the International Space Station--all three, at the same time? It could happen tonight. The ISS is flying over many US and European cities while Jupiter and the Moon transit the southern sky in tandem. A meeting is possible! Check the Simple Satellite Tracker to find out when to look.

SURFER'S MOON: According to folklore, tonight's full Moon is the "Thunder Moon," named after the rumbling crash of summer storms. But what would you call this? There wasn't a cloud in the sky:

"I call it 'the Surfer's Moon,'" says John Stetson of Scarborough, Maine, who took the picture on July 16th. "That's my son Peter surfing at Higgin's Beach with a 98% illuminated Moon overhead."

The full Moon, it seems, is in the eye of the beholder. Cast yours on the sky tonight and see what kind is waiting for you: sky map.

more images: from Mohamad Soltanolkottabi of Esfahan, Iran; from Elias Chasiotis of Markopoulo, Greece; from Tom Soetaert of Lawrence, Kansas; from Mark Seibold of Portland Oregon; from Shevill Mathers of Hobart, Tasmania; from Andrew Dumont of Laconia, New Hampshire; from Rob Carew of Melbourne, Australia; from Riccardo Di Nasso of Pisa, Italy;

ORGANIC CEMETERY: Mars is dry today, but the red planet once had vast lakes, flowing rivers and other wetlands potentially capable of supporting life. That is the conclusion a new study published in today's issue of Nature magazine. The findings (supported by a second study in Nature Geosciences) are based on spectral data and high-resolution photos taken by NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO)--for example:

This is a color-enhanced image of Jezero Crater, which once held a lake about the size of Lake Tahoe on Earth. Ancient rivers ferried clay-like minerals called "phyllosilicates" (shown in green) into the lake, forming a delta.

"The distribution of clays inside the ancient lakebed shows that standing water must have persisted for thousands of years," says study co-author Bethany Ehlmann of Brown University. "Clays are wonderful at trapping and preserving organic matter, so if life ever existed in this region, there's a chance of its chemistry being preserved in the delta."

According to the Nature study, vast regions of Mars' ancient highlands contain clay minerals, which can form only in the presence of water. Maps of these phyllosilicates may offer a "finder chart" to future missions hunting for signs of life: full story.

2008 Noctilucent Cloud Gallery
[Strange Clouds] [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.
On July 17, 2008 , there were 961 potentially hazardous asteroids.
July 2008 Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
2003 YE45
July 13
16.5 LD
1.4 km
2008 BT18
July 14
5.9 LD
1.0 km
2003 LC5
July 15
62 LD
1.4 km
2008 NP3
July 17
6.8 LD
85 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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