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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Current conditions
Solar wind
speed: 387.9 km/sec
density: 1.4 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2246 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: B1
2025 UT Apr03
24-hr: C1
0225 UT Apr03
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2245 UT
Daily Sun: 03 Apr 08
Old-cycle sunspot 988 is approaching the sun's western limb and will soon disappear. "It is almost time to turn the page on the latest group of active regions," says Greg Piepol who sends this close-up shot from his backyard observatory in Rockville, Maryland. Credit: SOHO/MDI
Sunspot number: 24
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 02 Apr 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: 5.4 nT
Bz: 2.6 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 April 5th or 6th. Credit:SOHO Extreme UV Telescope
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2008 Apr 03 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 03 2203 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
10 %
40 %
01 %
10 %
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
15 %
50 %
05 %
25 %
01 %
05 %
What's up in Space
April 3, 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

AURORA WATCH: High-latitude sky watchers should be alert for auroras on April 5th and 6th. That's when a solar wind stream is due to hit Earth's magnetic field. A similar encounter on March 27th produced Northern Lights over the United States as far south as Michigan and Oregon: gallery.

HISTORIC DOCKING: The ESA's new robotic cargo carrier, the Jules Verne, docked with the International Space Station today at 10:45 am EDT. The joining is an historic event. Jules Verne uses its own artificial intelligence and optical sensors for navigation and it is the first spacecraft to perform a fully-automated rendezvous with the space station. No humans guided the precision maneuvers of docking. Moments before contact, astronauts onboard the ISS took this picture:

"I am incredibly proud of and pleased for our European partners," says NASA Administrator Michael Griffin. "Only Russia has previously achieved a successful automated docking in space. The success of the [Jules Verne] marks the arrival of Europe as a full-fledged space power."

Jules Verne is laden with 4.6 tons of much-needed supplies including 270 kg of drinking water and 21 kg of oxygen. After docking, the cargo ship can use its powerful engines to reboost the ISS as needed and when Jules Verne eventually leaves in August it will take away a substantial load of garbage. Jules Verne is number one in a series of future Automated Transfer Vehicles or "ATVs" that will prove crucial to ISS operations after the space shuttle retires in 2010.

BONUS: "Last Friday, using a 30-inch telescope in Munich, we tracked Jules Verne flying just behind the ISS," report German astronomers Josef Huber, Tobias Lindemann and Klaus Nagel. "With a magnitude of about 0, it was brighter than we expected and we obtained a clear photo showing the outlines of the cargo carrier: click here."

MOON WRECK: Last month, on March 8th, Doug Zubenel decided to photograph the slender crescent moon from a scenic spot in the country near his home in Kansas. He turned his car onto an unfamiliar dirt road and proceeded into the sunset. That's when it happened: "The brilliant setting sun did not allow me to see the cement railings on a bridge over a small creek until I was very close. The next thing I knew, I had totaled my car."

Unscratched and undaunted, Zubenel got out, phoned the tow truck and, while he was waiting for the Sheriff, took the picture:

Another crescent moon like this one is due on April 6th and 7th. It will materialize low in the west as the sun sets and the sky darkens to cobalt blue. "All we need is clear skies," says Zubenel. And, oh, can anybody spare a ride?

more images: from John Chumack of Dayton, Ohio; from James Champagne of Ramah, Louisiana; from Paul Evans of Larne, Northern Ireland; from Jeffrey Berkes of West Chester, PA

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 3, 2008 there were 948 potentially hazardous asteroids.
April 2008 Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
2008 FH5
Apr. 2
7.6 LD
17 m
2001 QO142
Apr. 6
34 LD
685 m
2005 BE2
Apr. 10
62 LD
1.0 km
2005 NB7
Apr. 17
16 LD
705 m
2008 FU6
Apr. 22
62 LD
1.4 km
2005 TB
Apr. 28
47 LD
1.3 km
2001 DQ8
Apr. 30
74 LD
1.1 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 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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