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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Current conditions
Solar wind
speed: 419.8 km/sec
density: 2.0 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2246 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A0
2205 UT Jan11
24-hr: A0
2205 UT Jan11
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2245 UT
Daily Sun: 11 Jan 08
A new sunspot with apparently reversed magnetic polarity is emerging near the equator. Credit: SOHO/MDI
Sunspot number: 0
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 10 Jan 2008
Far side of the Sun:
This holographic image reveals a possible sunspot on the far side of the sun. Image credit: SOHO/MDI
Planetary K-index
Now: Kp= 1 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: 4.8 nT
Bz: 2.3 nT south
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2247 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 Jan 11 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 Jan 11 2203 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
20 %
20 %
15 %
15 %
05 %
05 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
25 %
25 %
20 %
20 %
10 %
01 %

What's up in Space
January 11, 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.

NO IMPACT: NASA scientists tracking asteroid 2007 WD5 say it will not hit Mars on Jan. 30th. "The impact probability has dropped dramatically, to approximately 0.01% or 1 in 10,000 odds, effectively ruling out the possible collision," according to an update issued yesterday by JPL's Near Earth Object Program Office: full story.

CURIOUS SUNSPOT: A new sunspot is emerging just south of the sun's equator, and it is a curious one. The spot's magnetic polarity is reversed compared to other nearby magnetic patches on the sun's surface. This Jan. 11th SOHO magnetogram shows the spot (circled) and its odd polarity:

Click to view a movie of the new sunspot emerging.

Reversed-polarity sunspots are signs of a new solar cycle and, indeed, Solar Cycle 24 began just last week. So far, so good. But this spot is near the equator. New-cycle spots are supposed to be at high latitudes--hence the curiosity. Is this a genuine new-cycle spot? A weird old-cycle spot? Readers with solar telescopes are encouraged to monitor the situation.

HOLMES AND ALGOL: In less than 10 days, Comet 17P/Holmes will appear to swallow the bright and famous star Algol. Last night in Fuerstenfeldbruck, Germany, Thorsten Boeckel photographed the pair converging:

Photo details: Canon 20D, ASA 800, 2 x 110s exposure

More than two months after it exploded, "Comet Holmes can still be observed in dark areas with the naked eye. It is surprisingly easy," he says. "But near big towns the object becomes really hard to see."

For the next two weeks, finding Holmes won't be so difficult. Simply look straight up after sunset and locate Algol in the constellation Perseus. Comet Holmes is right beside it: sky map. A 60-second exposure with an off-the-shelf digital camera reveals the comet--no telescope required.

Comet 17P/Holmes Photo Gallery
[World Map of Comet Sightings]
[sky map] [comet binoculars] [ephemeris] [3D orbit]

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 January 11, 2008 there were 916 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Jan. 2008 Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
2005 WJ56
Jan. 10
10.9 LD
1.2 km
1685 Toro
Jan. 24
76 LD
6.2 km
2007 TU24
Jan. 29
1.4 LD
400 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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