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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Current conditions
Solar wind
speed: 312.1 km/sec
density: 4.7 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2246 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A0
2245 UT Aug27
24-hr: A0
2245 UT Aug27
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2245 UT
Daily Sun: 27 Aug 08
The sun is blank--no sunspots. Credit: SOHO/MDI
Sunspot number: 0
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 27 Aug. 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= 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: 4.9 nT
Bz: 2.9 nT north
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2246 UT
Coronal Holes:
There are no coronal holes on the Earth-facing side of the sun. Credit: Hinode X-Ray Telescope
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2008 Aug 27 2201 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 Aug 27 2201 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
05 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
15 %
05 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
What's up in Space
August 27, 2008
AURORA ALERTS: Did you miss the Northern Lights of August 9th? Next time get a wake-up call from Space Weather PHONE.  

PROMINENCE ALERT: For the second day in a row, astronomers are monitoring a lively prominence on the sun's northwestern limb. It is at least five times taller than Earth and an easy target for backyard solar telescopes.

VOLCANIC SUNSETS: Volcanoes have been erupting in Alaska, and now sunsets are turning campfire-red across the continental United States. Coincidence? Kansas photographer Doug Zubenel calls this snapshot The Colors of Kasatochi:

"I've been seeing these incredible sunsets since last Friday," says Zubenel. High resolution photos (#1, #2) reveal the source: a high-altitude layer of finely-structured aerosols. "A rich orange develops as the sun sinks toward the horizon and Venus sports a red annulus."

"Doug's skies were probably generated by the recent eruptions of Kasatochi and two other volcanoes in Alaska's Aleutian Islands," says atmospheric optics expert Les Cowley. "Volcanic eruptions hurl gigantic clouds of fine dust and sulfur dioxide into the stratosphere where high winds spread them around the globe. Sulfur dioxide forms aerosols; these and the dust scatter sunlight to give us red skies, twilight rays and Bishop's rings. I'm getting many reports of unusual sunsets - look up!"

more images: from Linda Neilsen of Kent, Washington; from Dick McGowan of Olathe, Kansas; from Jeff Stevens of Grass Lake, Michigan; from Misty Lundberg of Princeton, Indiana; from Edmund E Kasaitis of Manchester, Maryland; from Doug Zubenel of De Soto, Kansas; from Dan Bush of Albany, Missouri; from Karla Dorman of Burleson, Texas;

LEAVING VICTORIA: Opportunity is getting out while it still can. The Mars rover has spent almost a whole year exploring the perilous slopes of Victoria Crater, an impact basin almost eight times wider than a football field. With one of the rover's wheels now in danger of failing, mission controllers have commanded Opportunity back to the safety of the surrounding plains.

Spaceweather reader Stuart Atkinson of Kendal, England, offers a farewell shot, 3D glasses required:

Click to view a full-sized 3D image

"This anaglyph is a combination of two pictures taken by the rover's Rear Hazcam," Atkinson explains. "It shows Oppy taking a last 'tourist photo' of the crater before heading back up onto the plain of Meridiani in search of new sights."

According to NASA, the "new sights" are cobbles--fist-size rocks thrown long distances by deep impact events on Mars. Driving across the plains in years past, Opportunity encountered scores of cobbles but stopped to examine only a few. Mission scientists are thinking that may have been a mistake. Cobbles don't sound glamorous, but they could reveal much about layers of Mars even deeper than Victoria Crater.

Farewell, Victoria! Hello cobbles. One wonders, what kind of 3D images will they make?

Aug. 16th Lunar Eclipse Gallery
[Interactive Eclipse Map]

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 August 27, 2008 , there were 976 potentially hazardous asteroids.
August 2008 Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
54509 YORP
Aug. 1
67 LD
130 m
2008 PK9
Aug. 11
11 LD
50 m
2008 ON10
Aug. 11
12 LD
50 m
2001 RT17
Aug. 14
69 LD
1.2 km
1991 VH
Aug. 15
18 LD
1.8 km
2008 MZ
Aug. 31
60 LD
1.1 km
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.
  3D views of the sun from NASA's Solar and Terrestrial Relations Observatory
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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