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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Current conditions
Solar wind
speed: 331.3 km/sec
density: 0.8 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2246 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A0
2245 UT Sep12
24-hr: A0
1630 UT Sep12
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2245 UT
Daily Sun: 12 Sep 08
A new sunspot has emerged, number 1001, but it is a small spot and may not last long. Readers with solar telescopes, take a look before it disappears. Credit: SOHO/MDI

more images: from Pavol Rapavy of Rimavska Sobota, Slovakia
Sunspot number: 12
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 12 Sept. 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= 1
explanation | more data
Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
What is the auroral oval?
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 1.3 nT
Bz: 0.7 nT north
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2247 UT
Coronal Holes:
A solar wind stream flowing from the indicated coronal hole should reach Earth on Sept. 13th or 14th. Credit: Hinode X-ray Telescope
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2008 Sep 12 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 Sep 12 2201 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
10 %
25 %
01 %
05 %
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
25 %
30 %
05 %
10 %
01 %
01 %
What's up in Space
September 12, 2008
AURORA ALERTS: Did you miss the Northern Lights of August 9th? Next time get a wake-up call from Space Weather PHONE.  

HARVEST MOON: This weekend's full Moon (Sept. 14/15) has a special name--the Harvest Moon. It's the full moon closest to the northern autumnal equinox (Sept. 22). In years past, farmers depended on the light of the Harvest Moon to gather ripening crops late into the night. Post-Edison, we appreciate it mainly for its beauty. Be alert in the nights ahead for Harvest Moon halos, coronas and 'dogs.

MARTIAN DEVILS: Dust devils are dancing around Phoenix. On Sept. 9th, the Mars lander photographed no fewer than five red whirlwinds, including this one:

The whirlwind measured about 5 meters in diameter. It was 1 km from the lander at the start of the movie and 1.7 km away at the end, two and a half minutes later, putting its speed at greater than 18 km/h. Phoenix not only saw but also felt the devils; air pressure around the lander dipped sharply during the flurry, according to a NASA report.

So many dust devils in a single day may signal a change in the weather, perhaps related to the onset of winter at Phoenix's landing site. "It will be very interesting to watch over the next days and weeks to see if there are lots of dust devils or if this was an isolated event," says Phoenix mission scientist Mark Lemmon of Texas A&M University. Stay tuned.

KASATOCHI UPDATE: When a massive cloud of volcanic ash and sulfur dioxide hits the stratosphere, where does it go next? Click here for the answer. The movie you just saw, prepared by atmospheric scientists at the University of Bremen in Germany, shows how a plume of SO2 from the eruption of Alaska's Kasatochi volcano swirled, twirled and spread throughout Earth's northern stratosphere during the month of August 2008. Click on the image to watch it again:

People lucky enough to look up when the plumes passed by witnessed spectacular sunsets and sunrises. The display has subsided as the clouds have disipated--but the show is not over yet. Look carefully at the last frame of the movie. Subtle tendrils of ash and sulfate aerosols are still cross-crossing the stratosphere putting on a nice show for attentive sky watchers.

Kasatochi continues. Keep an eye on the sunset!

recent photos: from Vincent Phillips near Liverpool, England; from Linda Neilsen of Seattle, Washington; from Matt Champlin of Skaneateles, New York; from Tomas Trzicky of Prague, Czech Republic; from Marek Nikodem of Szubin, Poland; from Doug Zubenel of Cedar Creek, Kansas.

Sept. 2008 Aurora Gallery
[Aurora Alerts] [Night Sky Cameras]

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 September 12, 2008 , there were 979 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Sept. 2008 Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
2003 WT153
Sept. 7
5.8 LD
11 m
1996 HW1
Sept. 12
53 LD
3.7 km
2003 SW130
Sept. 19
8.6 LD
7 m
1998 UO1
Sept. 26
25 LD
2.0 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 space weather bureau
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
Science Central
  a one-stop hub for all things scientific
  more links...
©2008, -- This site is penned daily by Dr. Tony Phillips.
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