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ASTEROID FLYBYS: Asteroid 2008 ED8 (50m wide) is flying past Earth today, March 10th, only ~300,000 miles away. Its orbit is curiously similar to that of another asteroid, 2008 EZ7 (18m wide), which flew past Earth on Sunday, March 9th. Are the two newly-discovered space rocks related? No one knows. Tonight, amateur astronomers may be able to photograph 2008 ED8 gliding through Virgo glowing about as brightly as a 12th magnitude star: ephemeris.
AURORA WATCH: A solar wind stream hit Earth on March 8th sparking bright auroras across Canada and Alaska. "It was a wild night in Edmonton," says Zoltan Kenwell who took this photo just outside the city limits:
Photo details: Canon 1D Marck III, 30 seconds, ISO 1600
In the United States, the lights descended as far south as Michigan. "We had a nice display near Lansing for more than three hours," reports Horace Smith.
The display has subsided but it could flare up again tonight. The solar wind continues to blow and NOAA forecasters estimate a 40% chance of geomagnetic activity at high latitudes..
March 2008 Aurora Gallery
[Aurora Alerts] [Night-sky Cameras]
FOUNTAIN OF FURY: "Yesterday I saw an exciting prominence on the sun through my Coronado SolarMax90," reports Larry Alvarez of Flower Mound, Texas. "It looked like a red fountain of fury and I really enjoyed it until the clouds rolled in." Click on the image to play a 1.5 hour movie:
Click to play a 1.5 hour, 3 MB movie
Prominences are clouds of hydrogen held above the surface of the sun by magnetic fields. This one really does appear to be a sort of fountain. Magnetic forces are lifting material up, up, up, tens of thousands of miles high where it falls down again for recycling. Is the "fountain of fury" still spewing today? Readers with solar telescopes, take a look!
more images: from Michael Borman of Evansville, Indiana; from Stephen Ames of Hodgenville. KY; from Monty Leventhal of Sydney Australia