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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Current conditions
Solar wind
speed: 535.2 km/sec
density: 1.5 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2245 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A0
2245 UT Mar20
24-hr: A0
1510 UT Mar20
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2245 UT
Daily Sun: 20 Mar 08
The sun is blank--no sunspots. Credit: SOHO/MDI
Sunspot number: 0
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 19 Mar 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= 4
explanation | more data
Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
What is the auroral oval?
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 3.6 nT
Bz: 2.2 nT north
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2246 UT
Coronal Holes:
There are no well-defined coronal holes on the Earth-facing side of the sun. Credit:SOHO Extreme UV Telescope
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2008 Mar 20 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 Mar 20 2203 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
10 %
10 %
05 %
05 %
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
10 %
10 %
05 %
05 %
01 %
01 %
What's up in Space
March 20, 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

AURORA SEASON: What are the signs of spring? They are as familiar as a blooming Daffodil, a songbird at dawn, a surprising shaft of warmth from the afternoon sun. And, oh yes, don't forget the aurora borealis. Spring is aurora season. For reasons not fully understood by scientists, the weeks around the vernal equinox are prone to Northern Lights: full story.

SOLAR CYCLE UPDATE: 2008 has been a year of few sunspots and mostly blank suns. A solar cycle update just released by NASA solar physicist David Hathaway shows why. We are experiencing the lowest ebb of solar minimum:

In the plot, the noisy curve is the International Sunspot Number measured by a worldwide network of solar observers. The smoothed curves are predictions for the future. We see that sunspot numbers may remain low for many months to come before beginning a rapid ascent in early 2009 toward the next solar maximum. It's something to look forward to. Meanwhile, stay tuned for quiet.

THREE RED SPOTS: How many red spots does Jupiter have? On March 17th, Mike Salway of Australia looked through his 12-inch telescope and counted three:

Red spot #1 is the Great Red Spot you've heard about, hundreds of years old and twice as wide as Earth. Red spot #2 is Oval BA, which formed white in 2000 and turned red in 2006. Red spot #3 is a newcomer, "the Little Red Spot," says Salway, possibly only weeks old.

All these spots are storms--anticyclones big enough to swallow a rocky planet. What makes them red? Curiously, no one knows why the Great Red Spot itself is red. A favorite idea is that the storm dredges "chromophores" (color-changing compounds) from deep inside Jupiter up to the cloudtops where sunlight triggers a chemical reaction with red by-products. But what are the chromosphores and what is the chemical reaction? It's a mystery--now multiplied by three.

Jupiter is emerging from the glare of the sun as a bright morning star, visible in the southeast before sunrise: sky map. "I'm still waiting for some 'excellent' morning to deliver the best resolution and detail," says Salway, "but as Jupiter keeps climbing I'm sure it will come soon."

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 March 20, 2008 there were 943 potentially hazardous asteroids.
March 2008 Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
2008 DH5
Mar. 5
7.1 LD
60 m
2008 EZ7
Mar. 9
0.4 LD
18 m
2008 ED8
Mar. 10
1.4 LD
64 m
2008 EF32
Mar. 10
0.2 LD
6 m
2008 EM68
Mar. 10
0.6 LD
12 m
1620 Geographos
Mar. 17
49 LD
3 km
2003 FY6
Mar. 21
6.3 LD
145 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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