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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Current conditions
Solar wind
speed: 664.3 km/sec
density: 1.0 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2127 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A0
2245 UT Oct03
24-hr: A0
0820 UT Oct03
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2245 UT
Daily Sun: 03 Oct 08
A new proto-sunspot is emerging in the sun's southern hemisphere. The high latitude of the spot likely associates it with new Solar Cycle 24. Credit: SOHO/MDI

more images: from Pete Lawrence of Selsey, West Sussex, UK; from Stephen Ames of Hodgenville, KY
Sunspot number: 0
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 30 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= 2 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: 3.7 nT
Bz: 1.7 nT south
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2128 UT
Coronal Holes:
Earth is inside a solar wind stream flowing from the indicated coronal hole. Credit: Hinode X-ray Telescope
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2008 Oct 03 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 Oct 03 2201 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
10 %
10 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
15 %
10 %
05 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
What's up in Space
October 3, 2008
AURORA ALERTS: Did you miss the Northern Lights of August 9th? Next time get a wake-up call from Space Weather PHONE.  

PROTO-SUNSPOT: A sunspot is struggling to emerge near the sun's southeastern limb. The spot's high southern latitude makes it a likely member of new Solar Cycle 24. "It is bright and shows a number of dark fibrils, two of which look like tarantula fangs," reports Pete Lawrence who sends this photo from his backyard observatory in Selsey, UK.

HOW ROUND IS THE SUN? Scientists using NASA's RHESSI spacecraft have measured the roundness of the sun with unprecedented precision, and they find that it is not a perfect sphere. During years of high solar activity the sun develops a rough "cantaloupe skin" that increases the sun's oblateness:

The crinkles, shown here in a July 2005 photo taken by astrophotographer Gary Palmer, brighten and fatten the "stellar waist," adding more than 10 milli-arcseconds to the sun's equatorial angular diameter. Solar physicists have long known about these crinkles, which are made of magnetism and trace bubbling "supergranules" on the sun's surface, but only now has RHESSI revealed their unexpected effect on the sun's global shape. This research has far ranging implications for solar physics and theories of gravity: full story.

KASATOCHI IS BACK: Actually, it never left. Tendrils of sulfurous ash have been drifting through the stratosphere ever since Alaska's Kasatochi volcano erupted in early August. "Yesterday, it became clear that another body of aerosols from Kasatochi was moving over our area," reports Kansas photographer Doug Zubenel. "The sunrises and sunsets we've been having are absolutely amazing!" These purple crepuscular rays appeared on Oct. 2nd:

"Look carefully," says Zubenel. "Thin, faint tendrils of aerosols can be seen in two photos from Oct. 1st. The show was topped off by Venus and the crescent moon descending from the blue into the volcanic red. It was quite a scene."

Readers, if at the end of the day you see odd shades of purple and orange coloring the western horizon, you may be experiencing your own Kasatochi flashback. Keep an eye on the sunset!

more images: from Monika Landy-Gyebnar of Veszprem, Hungary; from Tamas Ladanyi of Balatonfuzfo (Hungary)

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 October 3, 2008 , there were 986 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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