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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Current conditions
Solar wind
speed: 573.2 km/sec
density: 0.3 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2246 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A0
2245 UT Oct04
24-hr: A0
2245 UT Oct04
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2245 UT
Daily Sun: 04 Oct 08
A new sunspot is emerging inside the circled region. It is easier to see in this magnetic map. Credit: SOHO/MDI
Sunspot number: 0
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 03 Oct. 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= 5
explanation | more data
Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
What is the auroral oval?
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 2.7 nT
Bz: 1.7 nT north
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2247 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 04 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 04 2201 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
10 %
05 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
10 %
05 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
What's up in Space
October 4, 2008
BEHOLD THE SUN: Would you like to see fiery prominences and new-cycle sunspots with your own eyes? On sale now: Personal Solar Telescopes.  

NORTHERN LIGHTS: A high-speed solar wind stream is buffeting Earth's magnetic field and causing geomagnetic storms around the Arctic Circle. Sky watchers from Alaska to Scandinavia should be alert for auroras: gallery.

NEW SUNSPOT: Magnetic fields are punching through the solar surface and coalescing to form a sunspot near the sun's southeastern limb. This SOHO magnetic map of the sun shows the region's location and polarity:

The high southern latitude of the active region means it is probably a member of new Solar Cycle 24. The sun has been relentlessly blank for most of 2008, signifying a deep and sleepy minimum of the solar cycle. This tiny spot, and other recent ones like it, show that the sun is awakening again, albeit very slowly.

Readers, if you have a solar telescope, keep an eye on this herald of things to come.

more images: from Robert Arnold of Isle of Skye, Scotland; from Stephen Ames of Hodgenville, Kentucky; from Gernot Lausen of Fleckeby, Germany; from Stuart Thomson of Melbourne, Australia; from Jan Haltenhof of Kiel, Germany

FALSE DAWN: In the northern hermisphere, during the dark hours before sunrise, a ghostly triangle of light can now be seen jutting above the eastern horizon. It looks like the dawn, but it is not. It is the Zodiacal Light. Dennis Mammana photographed the phenomenon on Oct. 3rd from Borrego Springs, California:

"During autumn months, sky watchers far from city lights can see this softly-glowing cone of light ascending from the eastern horizon about an hour and a half before sunrise," says Mammana. The glow is caused by sunlight illuminating the dusty plane of our solar system. Zodiacal Light springs into view at this time of year because, in autumn, the plane of the solar system juts straight up from the eastern horizon at dawn--high and tall for easy viewing. "This week, with the moon gone from the early morning sky, is a great time to check it out."

more images: from Chris Schur of Winton, QLD, Australia; from Mauro Zorzenon of Altopiano del Montasio, Udine, Italy; from Alex Roca of Hortoneda, Lerida, Spain

Oct. 2008 Aurora Gallery
[Previous Octobers: 2007, 2006, 2004, 2003, 2002, 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 October 4, 2008 , there were 987 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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