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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Current conditions
Solar wind
speed: 396.0 km/sec
density: 1.6 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2245 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A8
2020 UT Apr01
24-hr: B2
0025 UT Apr01
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2245 UT
Daily Sun: 01 Apr 08
Sunspots 987 and 988 are decaying, but they still look nice when viewed through backyard solar telescopes. Credit: SOHO/MDI
Sunspot number: 45
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 31 Mar 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= 1 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: 2.8 nT
Bz: 1.4 nT north
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2246 UT
Coronal Holes:
A solar wind stream flowing from the indicated coronal hole should reach Earth on April 4th or 5th. Credit:SOHO Extreme UV Telescope
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2008 Apr 01 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 Apr 01 2203 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
15 %
15 %
05 %
05 %
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
15 %
15 %
10 %
10 %
01 %
01 %
What's up in Space
April 1, 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

SOLAR MAX RESCHEDULED: Impatient with the quiet sun, NASA researchers have rescheduled solar maximum. The peak was originally slated for 2012, but now it's going to happen this month. "We've launched millions of dollars worth of spacecraft to study solar activity, and what are we getting? Puny little A-flares and feeble old sunspots," complained a high-ranking source at NASA headquarters. "We need some real explosions! Rescheduling Solar Max should solve the problem." News of the shift was announced on April 1st.

JULES VERNE & THE ISS: Last night, March 31st, the ESA's Jules Verne cargo carrier approached the International Space Station, stopped 12 meters from the docking port, then backed away again. The crew of the ISS took this picture at the moment of closest approach:

Jules Verne performed these maneuvers as a dress rehearsal for actual docking on April 3rd and, significantly, it did them with no human guidance. The robotic spacecraft relied on its own optics and onboard intelligence. "This is a world premier for automated rendezvous using optical sensors," says ESA project manager Nicolas Chamussy. "The performance of the vehicle was even better than we had hoped."

While all this was happening in Earth orbit, sky watchers on Earth witnessed the spacecraft converge and withdraw in the night sky. "What a beautiful sight," reports Michel Vandeputte of Kluisbergen, Belgium. "The ISS was very bright (magnitude -3) and the Jules Verne peaked at magnitude +0. They [crossed the sky and] disappeared in Ursa Major."

more images: from Martin Gembec of Jablonec n.N. - Kokonín, Czech Republic; from John Murrell of Carshalton, Surrey, England; from Jaroslav Grnja of Kulpin, Serbia; from Dave P Smith of Bluebell Hill, Chatham, England; from Bill Wilson of Essex, UK; from Pavol Rapavy of Rimavska Sobota, Slovakia; from Patrick Bornet of St Martin sur Nohain, Nièvre, France; from Gustavo Maia of Goiania, Goias, Brazil;

ICE PENCILS: Ice crystals in clouds come in all shapes and sizes. One of them is the ice pencil. Six-sided crystals that resemble pencils sometimes produce sun pillars with a distinctive triangular top:

The triangle is properly called an upper tangent arc. "This is the first time I've seen one," says Austin Taylor of Lerwick, UK, who took the picture on March 30th using his Nikon D200. The show continued one hour after sunset when Taylor saw "a wonderful triangular pink patch among the clouds." Atmospheric optics expert Les Cowley believes "the early tangent arc and pillar were formed by column crystals and they lingered to form the same after sunset."

more images: from Phillip Chee of Peterborough, Ontario, Canada; from Signe S. Flugsrud of Oslo, Norway; from Robert Malmström of Reutlingen, Germany; from Geir Øye of Ørsta, Norway; from Mike Sessions of Mauna Kea, Big Island Hawaii;

March 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. [comment]
On April 1, 2008 there were 948 potentially hazardous asteroids.
March 2008 Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
2008 DH5
Mar. 5
7.1 LD
60 m
2008 EZ7
Mar. 9
0.4 LD
18 m
2008 ED8
Mar. 10
1.4 LD
64 m
2008 EF32
Mar. 10
0.2 LD
6 m
2008 EM68
Mar. 10
0.6 LD
12 m
1620 Geographos
Mar. 17
49 LD
3 km
2003 FY6
Mar. 21
6.3 LD
145 m
2008 FK
Mar. 23
0.8 LD
15 m
2008 FP
Mar. 29
0.4 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 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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