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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Current conditions
Solar wind
speed: 583.2 km/sec
density: 2.5 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2256 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A0
2245 UT Feb19
24-hr: A0
2245 UT Feb19
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2245 UT
Daily Sun: 19 Feb 08
The sun is blank--no sunspots. Credit: SOHO/MDI
Sunspot number: 0
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 18 Feb 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= 3
explanation | more data
Current Auroral Oval:

Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
What is the auroral oval?
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 3.5 nT
Bz: 1.9 nT north
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2256 UT
Coronal Holes:
A weak solar wind stream flowing from this minor coronal hole could reach Earth on or about Feb. 21st. Credit: SOHO Extreme UV Telescope
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2008 Feb 19 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 Feb 19 2203 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
10 %
10 %
05 %
05 %
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
15 %
20 %
10 %
10 %
05 %
05 %

What's up in Space
February 19, 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

FIREBALL! This morning at approximately 5:30 am Pacific time, people in Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana witnessed a spectacular fireball. "I did not see the fireball itself, but I did observe two flashes over the eastern horizon like transformer explosions," reports climatologist Jan Curtis of Portland, Oregon. "They were as bright as city lights." Much is uncertain about this event, but it was probably a small asteroid breaking up in Earth's atmosphere. Early reports of landfall are unconfirmed. Did you see it? Submit reports here.

TOTAL LUNAR ECLIPSE: On Wednesday evening, February 20th, the full Moon over Europe and the Americas will turn a delightful shade of red. It's a total lunar eclipse—the last one until Dec. 2010. When should you look? Click here for an animated timetable.

As explained in a recent Science@NASA story, red isn't the only color to look for when the Moon glides through Earth's shadow. Observers of several recent lunar eclipses have reported a flash of turquoise. For example, note the upper left corner of the above photo taken by Jens Hackmann during the European lunar eclipse of March 2007.

The source of the turquoise is ozone. Earth's ozone layer absorbs red sunlight while allowing blue rays to pass. This has the effect of turning Earth's shadow turquoise-blue around the edges. Look for it during the first and last minutes of totality (10:01 pm EST and 10:51 pm EST).

SPY-SAT UPDATE: Rumor has it that the US Navy may make its first attempt to hit USA 193 this Wednesday evening as the satellite passes over the Pacific Ocean. An air traffic advisory warns pilots to avoid a patch of ocean near Maui from 4:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. Hawaii time on Feb. 20th (0230 - 0500 UT, Feb. 21st). This would center the missile strike on the darkness of Wednesday's lunar eclipse and possibly render reentering debris visible from the west coast of North America. [comment]

Until the satellite is shot down, it remains visible to sky watchers who know when to look. Amateur astronomer Dan Bush photographed USA-193 last night as it passed over Albany, Missouri:

"It was moving right along (quickly) and gave the appearance of being out of control," says Bush. "This is a 15 second exposure using my Nikon D200 at ISO 640." Experienced sky watchers estimate the brightness of the satellite in the magnitude range +1.5 to -0.5, i.e., similar to the stars of Orion and an easy target for off-the-shelf digital 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 February 19, 2008 there were 926 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Feb. 2008 Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
2008 CT1
Feb. 5
0.3 LD
13 m
2007 DA
Feb. 12
9.8 LD
140 m
2008 CK70
Feb. 15
1.0 LD
40 m
4450 Pan
Feb. 19
15.9 LD
1.6 km
2002 TD66
Feb. 26
16.7 LD
440 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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