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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Current conditions
Solar wind
speed: 353.5 km/sec
density: 5.5 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2244 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A0
2030 UT Feb26
24-hr: A0
2030 UT Feb26
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2245 UT
Daily Sun: 26 Feb 08
New sunspot 983 poses no threat for strong solar flares. Credit: SOHO/MDI
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: 4.4 nT
Bz: 3.0 nT north
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2245 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 26 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 26 2203 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
15 %
20 %
05 %
05 %
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
20 %
30 %
05 %
10 %
01 %
05 %

What's up in Space
February 26, 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

MORNING PLANETS: Set your alarm. On Wednesday morning about 45 minutes before sunrise, Venus and Mercury will gather together only 1o apart. Using binoculars, scan the southeastern horizon for Mercury hanging just above super-bright Venus: sky map. Two planets in one eyepiece--it's a good way to begin the day!

photos: from Salvador Aguirre of Hermosillo, Mexico

RADIO STORM ON JUPITER: On Feb. 13th, the loudspeaker of Thomas Ashcraft's 21 MHz radio telescope in New Mexico suddenly began to hiss and crackle. The sounds grew louder as Jupiter rose in the pre-dawn sky. "I am pleased to report," says Ashcraft, "a successful recording of Jovian S-bursts--the first of 2008." Click on the image to listen:

The stacatto pops sound like lightning in the loudspeaker of a car radio, but lightning did not make these sounds. S-bursts are caused by natural radio lasers that form in Jupiter's magnetosphere and sweep past Earth as Jupiter rotates. Electrical currents flowing between Jupiter's upper atmosphere and the volcanic moon Io can boost these emissions to power levels easily detected by ham radio antennas on Earth.

Jupiter is just finishing a weeks-long passage around the backside of the sun; now it is emerging into the pre-dawn sky in good position for radio observing. "Feb. 13th was one of the first opportunities to observe Io-storming this year," says Ashcraft. "It is encouraging for future monitoring of Jupiter in the months ahead."

NEW YORK FIREBALL: "Last night, I was just out walking the dog when I saw a HUGE burning ball fly through the air, reports. Michele Kiefer of Ithaca, New York. "If the stars were the size of a pin prick, this object was the size of a quarter!" John Cook of Endicott, New York, witnessed the same thing: "It was glorious and really bright. There really was no missing it if someone was looking up."

What was it? Answer: A garden variety fireball.

Earth is under constant bombardment by small asteroids and other space debris, creating a drizzle of surprisingly-bright and -frequent meteors. According to calculations by NASA astronomer Bill Cooke, fireballs as bright as Venus appear somewhere on Earth more than 100 times daily. Fireballs as bright as a quarter Moon occur once every ten days, and fireballs as bright as a full Moon once every five months:

The vast majority are never noticed. About 70% of all fireballs streak over uninhabited ocean. Half appear during the day, invisible in sunny skies. Many are missed, however, simply because no one bothers to look up. So grab a leash and a dog (optional), and head outside. The chance of a fireball is better than you think.

GREENLAND FIREBALL: On Feb. 17th, a small and random asteroid disintegrated in the skies above Qaanaq (Thule) Greenland. "At first, I thought it was an airplane falling from the sky," says eyewitness Sara Lyberth. "There was a lot of fire and I immediately called the police." Moments later, police officer Farda Olsen took this picture of the meteor's smokey trail twisting in the wind. Radio Greenland offers a full account.

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

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 26, 2008 there were 930 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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