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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Current conditions
Solar wind
speed: 451.8 km/sec
density: 8.2 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2246 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A0
1730 UT Jan31
24-hr: A0
0835 UT Jan31
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2245 UT
Daily Sun: 31 Jan 08
New sunspot 982 continues its rapid growth and looks great through solar telescopes. Credit: SOHO/MDI
Sunspot number: 14
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 30 Jan 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= 3 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: 9.2 nT
Bz: 5.5 nT south
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2247 UT
Coronal Holes:
A solar wind stream flowing from the indicated coronal hole should reach Earth on Jan. 31st or Feb. 1st. Credit: Hinode X-Ray Telescope.
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2008 Jan 31 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 Jan 31 2203 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
15 %
15 %
10 %
10 %
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
20 %
20 %
15 %
15 %
05 %
05 %

What's up in Space
January 31, 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.

MERCURY SURPRISE: NASA's MESSENGER spacecraft has beamed back some surprising new data from the planet Mercury. Highlights include a weird crater nicknamed "the Spider," a planetary tail of hydrogen atoms, and measurements that show giant Caloris basin is even bigger than researchers imagined. Get the full story from Science@NASA.

MORNING SKY ALERT: Set your alarm for dawn. On Friday morning, February 1st, Venus and Jupiter converge in the southeastern sky less than 1 degree apart. It's a spectacular view worth waking up early to see: sky map.

From the shores of the Caspian Sea, Iranian photographer Babak Tafreshi sends this picture of the planets converging on Jan. 31:

"The same view but in long exposure by Amir Hossein Abolfath, who was only few meters away, is very eye-catching, too," notes Tafreshi.

The February 1st alignment kicks off four mornings of beautiful views as the crescent Moon moves in to join Venus and Jupiter over the weekend. Watch them decorate the sunrise on February 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th.

more images: from Brian Whittaker flying 35,000 feet over eastern Quebec, Canada; from John Stetson of Portland, Maine; from John Baxter of New Concord, Ohio; from Martin McKenna of Maghera, Co. Derry, N. Ireland; from Phil Harrington of Miller Place, NY; from Dave Miller of Silver Creek Park, Norton, Ohio; from Bill Gucfa of Rehoboth, Massachusetts.

ZENITH LIGHTS: "Last night some strange lights appeared in the sky over my house," reports Hiroaki Ohno of Fukushima, Japan. "They had neon colors and were brighter than Mars or Capella." The slowly-changing apparition persisted for more than an hour and he had time to take several pictures using his Canon 40D:

What were these celestial luminaries? Ordinary city lights.

Atmospheric optics expert Les Cowley explains: "Plate-shaped ice crystals floating horizontally in high clouds can act as millions of tiny mirrors. They reflect light to form subsuns, sun pillars and artificial light pillars. Here they have reflected the colorful city lights of Fukushima as streaks radiating outwards from the zenith."

Indeed, says Ohno, "there were some translucent icy clouds floating over the city and my neighborhood has many neon signs on convenience stores and colored lights on a nearby expressway." Icy clouds + neon lights = another reason to keep looking (straight) up.

2008 Nacreous Cloud Gallery
[Night-sky cameras] [Nacreous Basics] [Add your comments]

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 January 31, 2008 there were 921 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Jan. 2008 Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
2005 WJ56
Jan. 10
10.9 LD
1.2 km
2008 AF3
Jan. 13
1.0 LD
27 m
1685 Toro
Jan. 24
76 LD
6.2 km
2007 TU24
Jan. 29
1.4 LD
250 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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