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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Current conditions
Solar wind
speed: 591.8 km/sec
density: 1.3 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2258 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A0
2250 UT Nov25
24-hr: A0
2250 UT Nov25
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2250 UT
Daily Sun: 25 Nov 08
The sun is blank--no sunspots. Credit: SOHO/MDI

more images: from Andy Yeung of Hong Kong; from Mike Borman of Evansville, Indiana; from Guenter Kleinschuster of Feldbach, Austria;
Sunspot number: 0
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 23 Nov. 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: 3.9 nT
Bz: 1.4 nT north
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2259 UT
Coronal Holes:
Earth is entering a solar wind stream flowing from the indicated coronal hole. Credit: SOHO Extreme UV Telescope
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2008 Nov 25 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 Nov 25 2201 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
20 %
15 %
10 %
05 %
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
25 %
20 %
15 %
10 %
01 %
01 %
What's up in Space
November 25, 2008
NORTHERN LIGHTS: Did you sleep through the auroras of November? Next time get a wake-up call: Spaceweather PHONE.  

AURORA WATCH: High latitude sky watchers should be alert for auroras tonight. Earth is entering a dense solar wind stream and this could trigger geomagnetic storms around the Arctic Circle.

ISS TOOLBAG: When Endeavour astronaut Heidemarie Stefanyshyn-Piper dropped her toolbag during a spacewalk on Nov. 18th and it floated away, mission controllers probably thought they'd seen the last of it. Think again. Amateur astronomers have been monitoring the backpack-sized toolbag as it circles Earth not very far from the International Space Station. (continued below)

Above: NASA TV footage of the runaway toolbag.

After sunset on Nov. 22nd, Edward Light saw the bag using 10x50 binoculars as it sailed over his backyard in Lakewood, New Jersey. "It was quite a favorable 70-deg pass in clear skies," he says. "The visual magnitude of the bag was about +6.4 plus or minus half a magnitude." On the same night, Keven Fetter of Brockville, Ontario, video-recorded the bag zipping past the 4th-magnitude star eta Pisces: 900 kB movie. "It was easily 8th magnitude or brighter," says Fetter.

This week the toolbag is making a series of passes over Europe; late next week it will return to the evening skies of North America. Using binoculars, look for it flying a few minutes ahead of the ISS. Spaceweather's satellite tracker is monitoring both the space station and the tool bag; click here for predictions.

PLANET PILLARS: Venus and Jupiter are so bright, they do things normally reserved for the sun and Moon. For instance, they make pillars. Inspect the elongated shape of the planets in this Nov. 24th photo taken at sunset by Laurent Laveder of Gouesnac'h, France:

Photo details: Canon 40D, 2.5 sec, 400 ISO

Pillars are caused by ice crystals floating in high clouds. When a bright light shines through such a cloud, the flat surfaces of plate-shaped crystals reflect the light up and down to form luminous columns. Usually the bright light is the sun or Moon; in this case it was Venus and Jupiter.

Readers, you'll want to keep an eye on these planets in the evenings ahead. They're converging for a spectacular conjunction with the Moon at the end of the month. No one has ever photographed a triple pillar before, but a display could be in the offing. Sky maps: Nov. 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, Dec 1.

more images: from Lauri Kangas of Caledon, Ontario, Canada; from Antonio Finazzi of Chiuduno, Bergamo, Italy; from Brian Hudson of Charleston, South Carolina; from Thierry Demange of Erstein, Alsace, France; from Gary A. Becker of Coopersburg, Pennsylvania; from Masa Nakamura of Otawara, Tochigi, Japan; from Bob Johnson of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan; from Paul Evans of Larne, Northern Ireland; from Tamas Ladanyi of Veszprem, Hungary;

Nov. 2008 Aurora Gallery
[Previous Novembers: 2007, 2006, 2004, 2003, 2001, 2000]

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 November 25, 2008 there were 999 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Nov. 2008 Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
2008 TX3
Nov. 1
9 LD
45 m
2008 UT95
Nov. 2
1.5 LD
15 m
2008 UC7
Nov. 2
4.5 LD
17 m
2008 VM
Nov. 3
0.1 LD
4 m
2008 VA4
Nov. 4
7.7 LD
49 m
2008 VB4
Nov. 4
1.3 LD
10 m
2008 VC
Nov. 4
4.4 LD
18 m
4179 Toutatis
Nov. 9
20 LD
3.8 km
2008 WO2
Nov. 16
1.0 LD
5 m
2004 XK3
Nov. 18
1.8 LD
60 m
2008 VZ3
Nov. 22
5.7 LD
55 m
2008 WD
Nov. 24
6.9 LD
30 m
2008 WC
Nov. 26
5.1 LD
23 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 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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