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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Current conditions
Solar wind
speed: 409.4 km/sec
density: 1.4 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2245 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A0
1805 UT Mar04
24-hr: A0
1805 UT Mar04
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2245 UT
Daily Sun: 04 Mar 08
Officially, the sunspot number is zero, but a new spot may be emerging at the indicated location. Readers with solar telescopes, take a look. Credit: SOHO/MDI
Sunspot number: 0
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 03 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= 0 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: 2.4 nT
Bz: 1.7 nT south
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2247 UT
Coronal Holes:
A solar wind stream flowing from this coronal hole could reach Earth as early as March 6th. Credit:SOHO Extreme UV Telescope
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2008 Mar 04 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 Mar 04 2203 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
15 %
15 %
05 %
05 %
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
15 %
15 %
05 %
05 %
01 %
01 %

What's up in Space
March 4, 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

AVALANCHE ON MARS: So you thought nothing ever changes on Mars? Wrong. Two weeks ago, NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter photographed a massive avalanche near the Red Planet's north pole. See the landslide and get the full story from Science@NASA.

WONDERFUL WEDNESDAY: Tomorrow (Wednesday, March 5th) begins with a beautiful display of planets: Mercury, Venus and the slender crescent Moon will gather in a tight knot beneath the bright gaze of Jupiter. The quartet are easy to see (look southeast) as they beam through the rosy glow of dawn: sky map.

The show continues even after sunrise. In broad daylight, Venus and the crescent Moon will converge until there is only a sliver of blue sky between them. Anthony Ayiomamitis of Athens, Greece, sends this picture of a similar encounter last year over Europe:

"It is amazing how Venus can be picked out during the day and in spite of the brightness of the local sky when a large target such as the moon is nearby to help our eyes focus properly for infinity," says Ayiomamitis.

The Moon on March 5th will be a pale and slender 5% crescent, which could make it difficult to find in the bright blue sky. Try this: Command your GOTO telescope to slew to Venus. The planet and Moon will materialize together in the eyepiece. In parts of North America west of the Mississippi River, the Moon will actually pass in front of Venus causing the planet to disappear between about 2:30 pm and 3:30 pm CST (2030 and 2130 GMT). Occultation timetables for many US towns and cities may be found here.

PHOTO-OP: Comet 17P/Holmes is having a close encounter with the California Nebula. "This pale ghost of a comet makes the brilliant red of my home state's nebula seem that much more intense," says Richard Nolthenius of Bonny Doon, California, who photographed the pair on March 1st:

"On the evenings of March 7th and 8th, Holmes will pass just 'offshore of San Francisco' in the nebula," adds Doug Zubenel of Linn County, Kansas, who labels his own snapshot "California Dreaming." This will be a wonderful photo-op for astronomers with wide-field telescopes. The duo is easy to find; after sunset, just point your optics north at the constellation Perseus: sky map, ephemeris.

JUST FOR FUN: Try looking at Richard Nolthenius's photo, above, using 3D glasses. Although it is not an anaglyph, the image is rich in reds and blues and gives a curious sensation of depth. (Thanks to reader Oliver Mellors for pointing this out.)

more images: from P-M Hedén of Vallentuna, Sweden; from Michael Jäger of Stixendorf, Austria; from Jack Newton of the Arizona Sky Village;

Lunar Eclipse Photo Gallery
[Interactive World Map of Eclipse Photos]

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 March 4, 2008 there were 935 potentially hazardous asteroids.
March 2008 Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
2008 DH5
Mar. 5
7.1 LD
60 m
1620 Geographos
Mar. 17
49 LD
3 km
2003 FY6
Mar. 21
6.3 LD
145 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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