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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Current conditions
Solar wind
speed: 528.8 km/sec
density: 0.3 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2243 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A0
2245 UT May06
24-hr: A0
2245 UT May06
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2245 UT
Daily Sun: 06 May 08
New-cycle sunspot 993 is rapidly fading to invisibility. Credit: SOHO/MDI
Sunspot number: 15
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 05 May 2008
Far side of the Sun:
This holographic image reveals no sunspots on the farside of the sun. Image credit: SOHO/MDI
Planetary K-index
Now: Kp= 1 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 4
explanation | more data
Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
What is the auroral oval?
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 4.2 nT
Bz: 0.3 nT north
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2246 UT
Coronal Holes:
Earth is inside a solar wind stream flowing from the indicated coronal hole. Credit: SOHO Extreme UV Telescope
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2008 May 06 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 May 06 2203 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
20 %
10 %
05 %
05 %
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
30 %
10 %
10 %
05 %
05 %
01 %
What's up in Space
May 6, 2008
MOTHER'S DAY: Give your mom a truly heavenly gift on May 11th--a subscription to Space Weather PHONE!  

THE ACTION IS... on the edge of the sun. A large prominence is dancing along the sun's western limb, changing shape so fast it is tricky to photograph and even trickier to sketch. Readers, if you have a solar telescope, take a look.

more images: from Greg Piepol of Rockville, Maryland; from Stephen Ames of Hodgenville, Kentucky; from Steve Wainwright of South Wales, UK; from Cai-Uso Wohler of Bispingen, Germany;

MERCURY & THE MOON: When the sun goes down tonight, step outside and look west. You'll find Mercury and the Moon beaming side-by-side through the sunset. Seeing Mercury is rare enough; seeing Mercury together with an exquisite crescent Moon is out of this world! You won't even need a sky map.

SUN HALO: Look into the eyes of someone you love and behold ... a sun halo? It happened yesterday in Spain, says photographer Enrique Luque Cervigón. "There was a 22-degree halo reflected in the glasses of my girlfriend."

"The sky over Madrid was criss-crossed by high clouds," he explains. Ice crystals in those clouds caught the rays of the sun and bent them into a magnificent halo. Displays like these are common enough, but often missed because the glare of the sun makes us divert our gaze. Now you know where to look.

more images: from Wah! of Hong Kong; from Jean Chiasson of Varadero, Cuba; from Yasmin Angelique Walter near Frankfurt, Germany; from Mustafa Erol of Antalya, Turkey; from Jonas Förste of Jakobstad, Finland;

BOULDER & GALAXY: Unbeknownst to billions of humans sleeping calmly on Earth below, massive asteroid 7 Iris spent the night of May 5th buzzing the Sombrero Galaxy (M104). Insomniac astronomer Dennis Simmons photographed the encounter from Brisbane, Australia:

May 6th update!

"Oh, the agony and the ecstasy of asteroid hunting!" he says. "I am accustomed to chasing down very faint and immensely fast Near Earth Objects from the SpaceWeather list. Last night, I found myself recording the more pedestrian gait of bright asteroid 7 Iris as it sailed by the Sombrero Galaxy: animation."

There was never any danger of a collision. The Sombrero Galaxy is 30 million light years from Earth while asteroid Iris is only 16 light minutes away--a difference of more than 1020 km. The quiet beauty of the scene was stimulant enough to waken those who knew.

BONUS: "Asteroid 7 Iris was not alone as it skirted the Sombrero Galaxy in Virgo," points out Bill Williams of the Chiefland Astronomy Village in Florida. "In fact, Iris was secretly, it seems, accompanied by no fewer than 4 other main belt asteroids within 15 arcminutes on the night of May 4-5, 2008 when everyone was looking! My 2 hour exposure revealed 2 of these faint companions and this animation shows the locations of the others."

more images: from Martin Wagner of Sonnenbuehl, Germany; from Peter van Leuteren at the Cosmos Observatory in Lattrop, the Netherlands; from Eugene Miller of Brooklyn, New York; from Steven Janowiecki of Kitt Peak, Arizona; from Alberto Quijano Vodniza of Pasto, Nariño, Colombia; from Roman Piffl, Tomas Maruska and Ivan Majchrovic of Marianka, Slovakia

April 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 May 6, 2008 there were 949 potentially hazardous asteroids.
May 2008 Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
2008 HG
May 5
17 LD
90 m
2008 DE
May 9
17 LD
550 m
2008 HD2
May 9
6.5 LD
40 m
2008 HR3
May 11
3.1 LD
50 m
2008 HW1
May 14
72 LD
1.4 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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