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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Current conditions
Solar wind
speed: 523.8 km/sec
density: 2.2 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 1322 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A0
0735 UT Oct12
24-hr: A0
0735 UT Oct12
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 1325 UT
Daily Sun: 12 Oct 08
Sunspot 1005 is a member of new Solar Cycle 24. Credit: SOHO/MDI

Correction: In yesterday's caption, this sunspot was mis-labeled "1004."
Sunspot number: 16
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 12 Oct. 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= 3 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: 4.1 nT
Bz: 0.0 nT
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 1328 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 Oct 11 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 Oct 11 2201 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
35 %
05 %
10 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
40 %
15 %
20 %
05 %
05 %
01 %
What's up in Space
October 12, 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.  

COMET ENCOUNTER: A near-Earth object due to pass our planet on Oct. 22 is not an asteroid, but a comet: Comet Barnard-Boattini was discovered in 1892, lost for more than a century, and found again this month as it approached Earth. How do you lose a comet? It's easy when the comet is as dim this one. Bernard-Boattini will barely reach 16th magnitude even though it is only 18 million miles away; it must be old and spent--or very small. Observers, consider it a challenge: ephemeris.

NEW-CYCLE SUNSPOT: A "new-cycle" sunspot belonging to Solar Cycle 24 has emerged near the sun's northeastern limb. Sunspot 1005 has two fast-growing dark cores wider than Earth and a simple bipolar magnetic field that poses no threat for solar flares. Alan Friedman sends this picture from his backyard observatory in Buffalo, New York:

This is the third time in as many weeks that a new-cycle sunspot has interrupted the year's remarkable run of blank suns. The accelerating pace of new-cycle sunspot production is an encouraging sign that, while solar activity remains very low, the sunspot cycle is unfolding more or less normally. We are not stuck in a permanent solar minimum. Readers with solar telescopes should train them on the sun this weekend to observe sunspot genesis in action.

more images: from J. Fairfull and J. Stetson of South Portland, Maine; from Greg Piepol of Rockville, Md; from Pete Lawrence of Selsey, West Sussex; from Tibor Horvath of Hegyhatsal, Hungary; from Mike Borman of Evansville, Indiana; from Peter Paice of Belfast, Northern Ireland; from Sylvain Weiller of Saint Rémy lès Chevreuse, France; from Jason Higley of Longwood, Florida;

MAGNETIC STORM: A solar wind stream hit Earth on Oct. 11th, sparking the strongest geomagnetic storm of 2008. The disturbance registered 7 on the 0-to-9 K-index scale of geomagnetic activity. Bright auroras spread across Finland, where Sauli Koski took this picture:

"Finally some good auroras and no clouds!" he says. Bright moonlight added beauty to the scene by illuminating the landscape. Koski made a series of exposures using a Nikon D3 digital camera, opening the shutter for 6 seconds at 800 ASA.

High-latitude sky watchers should remain alert for auroras as the solar wind continues to blow.

UPDATED: 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 October 12, 2008 there were 990 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Oct. 2008 Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
2008 QS11
Oct. 2
11 LD
470 m
2008 SH148
Oct. 4
5.8 LD
26 m
2005 GN59
Oct. 6
20 LD
1.4 km
2008 TC3
Oct. 7
3 m
2008 TZ
Oct. 10
5.3 LD
37 m
1999 VP11
Oct. 16
72 LD
860 m
2001 UY4
Oct. 18
74 LD
1.1 km
Comet Barnard-Boattini
Oct. 22
75 LD
2008 TT26
Oct. 23
3.6 LD
70 m
2000 EX106
Oct. 23
69 LD
1.1 km
2005 VN
Oct. 29
4.1 LD
116 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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