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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Current conditions
Solar wind
speed: 557.2 km/sec
density: 1.4 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2246 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A0
2245 UT Apr12
24-hr: A0
1050 UT Apr12
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2245 UT
Daily Sun: 12 Apr 08
A new sunspot may be emerging at the location of the question mark. Credit: SOHO/MDI
Sunspot number: 0
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 10 Apr 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= 2 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: 5.0 nT
Bz: 1.0 nT north
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2247 UT
Coronal Holes:
There are no well-organized coronal holes on the Earth-facing side of the sun. Credit: SOHO Extreme UV Telescope
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2008 Apr 12 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 Apr 12 2203 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
15 %
15 %
05 %
05 %
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
20 %
20 %
10 %
10 %
01 %
01 %
What's up in Space
April 12, 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.   mySKY

SPACE STATION FLYBYS: Sky watchers in North America might notice a bright light streaking across the evening sky this weekend. It's the International Space Station. The busily expanding station is now as luminous as Venus even when it doesn't fly directly overhead; some observers report seeing it through clouds. US and Canadian readers, find out when to look using our new Simple Satellite Tracker.

NEW CYCLE SPOT? A new sunspot is trying to emerge in the sun's northern hemisphere. It's not a big one, but it may be significant as only the second sunspot of new Solar Cycle 24. Follow the arrow in this ultraviolet image taken earlier today by the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory:

The first sunspot of Solar Cycle 24 was observed on Jan. 4, 2008. More than three months have gone by without a second, but this could be it. The emerging active region is located at high solar latitude and has the correct magnetic polarity for a new cycle spot.

All that remains is for it to coalesce into a genuine sunspot. At the moment the active region lacks a sunspot's dark core. Readers, if you have a solar telescope, monitoring is encouraged.

more images: from Pete Lawrence of Selsey, West Sussex, UK; from Stephen Ames of Hodgenville, KY; from Cai-Uso Wohler of Bispingen, Germany; from Jan Timmermans of Valkenswaard, The Netherlands; from Peter Paice of Belfast, Northern Ireland;

MOONDUST IN THE WIND: Unlike Earth, the Moon has no magnetic field to ward off charged particles from the Sun. Solar wind blows directly onto the lunar surface. Researchers have long suspected that electrons in the solar wind become embedded in moondust, causing the dust to "charge up" and giving the Moon a very bad case of static cling. (continued below)

Image credit: J. Halekas, G. Delory (U.C. Berkeley), B. Farrell, T. Stubbs (GSFC)

Strange things can happen when moondust gathers charge. For example, the dust might rise up and, propelled by electrostatic repulsion, rush in a diaphanous wind across the lunar surface. Imagine, dust storms on an airless world with no weather!

But it could be even stranger than that. NASA researchers have discovered that moondust peppered with solar wind electrons gain not a negative but a positive charge. This unexpected and counterintuitive reaction makes it hard to predict what is really happening to dust on moon. Get the full story from Science@NASA.

UPDATED: 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 April 12, 2008 there were 946 potentially hazardous asteroids.
April 2008 Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
2008 FH5
Apr. 2
7.6 LD
17 m
2001 QO142
Apr. 6
34 LD
685 m
2008 GF1
Apr. 7
0.8 LD
10 m
2005 BE2
Apr. 10
62 LD
1.0 km
2005 NB7
Apr. 17
16 LD
705 m
2008 FU6
Apr. 22
62 LD
1.4 km
2005 TB
Apr. 28
47 LD
1.3 km
2001 DQ8
Apr. 30
74 LD
1.1 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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