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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Current conditions
Solar wind
speed: 409.5 km/sec
density: 6.7 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2245 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A0
2110 UT Feb25
24-hr: A0
0050 UT Feb25
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2245 UT
Daily Sun: 25 Feb 08
A new sunspot (circled) is emerging near the sun's equator. Photo credit: Howard Eskildsen of Ocala, Florida.
Sunspot number: 12
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 25 Feb 2008
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= 2
explanation | more data
Current Auroral Oval:

Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
What is the auroral oval?
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 2.7 nT
Bz: 0.4 nT north
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2246 UT
Coronal Holes:
A solar wind stream flowing from this coronal hole could reach Earth on Feb. 28th or 29th. Credit: Hinode X-Ray Telescope
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2008 Feb 25 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 25 2203 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
10 %
10 %
05 %
05 %
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
10 %
15 %
05 %
10 %
01 %
05 %

What's up in Space
February 25, 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

SOLAR ACTIVITY: Yesterday, something behind the sun's northeastern limb exploded, hurling a bright cloud into space: movie. This could herald an active sunspot just over the horizon. If so, solar rotation will bring it into view this week. Readers with solar telescopes, monitor the limb!

BRIGHT ECLIPSE: Shadows are supposed to be dark, but when Earth's shadow fell across the Moon last week the result was "rather bright," says atmospheric scientist Dr. Richard Keen of the University of Colorado. On the scale of astronomical magnitudes, "the eclipsed Moon of Feb. 20, 2008, registered -3, almost a thousand times brighter than the classic dark eclipse of Dec. 30, 1963, which followed the eruption of the Agung volcano in Indonesia."

Photographer Lorenzo Comolli sends this picture of Crater Tycho at mid-eclipse from his backyard observatory in Tradate, Italy:

The red light around Tycho is sunlight filtered and redirected by Earth's stratosphere into the core of our planet's shadow. "This eclipse was so bright because the stratosphere is exceptionally clear," explains Keen. Volcanoes can clog the stratosphere with ash and other aerosols, making lunar eclipses dark, but it has been a while since a major eruption. "The stratosphere has been clear since about 1995 after aerosols from Pinatubo's 1991 eruption settled out, and it appears to be getting more clear with each eclipse."

Keen tracks the brightness of lunar eclipses because they reveal the opacity of Earth's upper atmosphere. "A clear stratosphere means plenty of undiminished sunlight heating Earth"--something climate change models must take into account. "Lunar eclipses are not only beautiful," he says, "they can teach you a lot."

Lunar Eclipse Photo Gallery
[Interactive World Map of Eclipse Photos]

3D ANVIL: Grab your 3D glasses. Graphic artist Patrick Vantunye of Belgium has created a red-blue anaglyph of the space station anvil, described below. One look will put you in orbit!

ABOVE THE STORM: The afternoon sky darkened. Grey clouds billowed to the heavens. Thunder shook the ground and lightning danced overhead. The first droplets of heavy rain were just hitting the ground when the spaceship flew by....

This really happened on Feb. 5th when the International Space Station (ISS) flew over western Africa during an afternoon thunderstorm in Mali:

Orbiting Earth 200 miles high at a speed of 17,000 mph, astronauts took the picture using a Nikon D2Xs peering through one of the space station's many windows. It shows an enormous anvil cloud. Anvil clouds form in the tops of thunderstorms 5 to 10 miles high and consist mainly of ice. They get their anvil shape from the fact that the rising air in thunderstorms expands and spreads out as the air bumps up against the bottom of the stratosphere. There's no new science or meteorology in this photo--just a shot of rare beauty.

More ISS Earth-shots: Sunrise near Tehran; Suburban Dallas at Night; New Zealand Peak; Sands of Sudan; Austrian Alps

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 25, 2008 there were 928 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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