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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Current conditions
Solar wind
speed: 325.9 km/sec
density: 0.5 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2246 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A0
2040 UT Nov04
24-hr: B9
0330 UT Nov04
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2245 UT
Daily Sun: 04 Nov 08
New-cycle sunspot 1007 is crackling with B-class solar flares. Credit: SOHO/MDI
Sunspot number: 18
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 02 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= 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: 2.6 nT
Bz: 1.2 nT north
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2247 UT
Coronal Holes:
A weak solar wind stream flowing from this shallow coronal hole could reach Earth on Nov. 6th. Credit: SOHO Extreme UV Telescope
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2008 Nov 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 Nov 04 2201 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
05 %
05 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
10 %
10 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
What's up in Space
November 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.  

MARS LANDER IN PERIL: The extreme cold and waning sunlight of martian winter are taking a severe toll on Phoenix. Information received over the weekend indicates the lander is running out of power each afternoon but reawakening after its solar arrays catch morning sunlight. Adding to Phoenix's troubles, a dust storm is dimming what little sun the lander has left. "We are trying to gain some additional science during however many days we have left," says Barry Goldstein of JPL. "Any day could be our last." [more]

IONOSPHERIC DISTURBANCE: Magnetic fields above sunspot 1007 erupted yesterday, Nov. 3rd, sparking a B8-class solar flare. Although B-flares are considered minor, the blast nevertheless made itself felt on Earth. X-rays bathed the dayside of our planet and sent a wave of ionization rippling through the atmosphere over Europe. The sudden ionospheric disturbance (SID) disrupted propagation of VLF radio signals, a phenomenon recorded by Rudolf Slosiar of Bojnice, Slovakia:

"Solar Cycle 24 is already showing up on my SID monitor," says Slosiar. "Detecting a minor B8 flare is a good test of the sensitivity of this method of monitoring solar activity."

Sunspot 1007 is indeed an apparition of the next solar cycle; the spot's high latitude and magnetic polarity associate it firmly with Solar Cycle 24. Active new-cycle sunspots like "007" are going to become more common in the weeks and months ahead as the sun climbs out of solar minimum. Stay tuned. The SIDs are just getting started.

sunspot photos: from Pete Lawrence of Selsey, West Sussex, UK; from M. Ugro et al. of South Portland, Maine; from Robert Arnold of Isle of Skye, Scotland; from Stephen Ames of Hodgenville, Kentucky; from Pavol Rapavy of Rimavska Sobota, Slovakia; from Paul Maxson of Surprise, Arizona; from Guenter Kleinschuster of Feldbach, Styria, Austria;

THE GATHERING: Less than a month from now, on Dec. 1st, something extraordinary will happen in the night sky. Venus, Jupiter and the crescent Moon are going to converge on a single, tiny patch of the heavens only a few degrees wide. Such an eye-catching, traffic-stopping triple conjunction can only be described as the backyard astronomy event of the year.

Last night in Weatherford, Texas, photographer Shannon L. Story got a 66% sneak preview when two-thirds of the trio got together, upper left:

Jupiter and the Moon were in conjunction while Venus looked on from below. "It was a pretty show," says Story, but not as pretty as it's going to be. Mark your calendar for Dec. 1st and try to imagine the gathering to come.

more images: from Eszter Farkas of Szeged, Hungary; from Becky Ramotowski of Tijeras, New Mexico; from Doug Zubenel of De Soto, Kansas; from Tom King of Watauga, Texas; from Richard Bell of Kalamazoo, MI; from Robert Rosenberg of Adony, Hungary; from Emanuele Colognato of Coral Gables, Florida; from Tamas Ladanyi of Budapest, Hungary;

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 November 4, 2008 there were 996 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
4179 Toutatis
Nov. 9
20 LD
3.8 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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