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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Current conditions
Solar wind
speed: 365.2 km/sec
density: 2.8 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2244 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A0
2245 UT Oct15
24-hr: A0
2245 UT Oct15
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2245 UT
Daily Sun: 15 Oct 08
New-cycle sunspot 1005 is slowly fading away. Credit: SOHO/MDI

more images:
from Peter Paice of Belfast, Northern Ireland; from Pavol Rapavy of Rimavska Sobota, Slovakia
Sunspot number: 14
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 14 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= 1 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 3
explanation | more data
Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
What is the auroral oval?
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 3.2 nT
Bz: 1.5 nT south
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2247 UT
Coronal Holes:
There are no coronal holes on the Earth-facing side of the sun. Credit: Hinode X-ray Telescope.
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2008 Oct 15 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 15 2201 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
10 %
10 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
10 %
10 %
01 %
01 %
05 %
05 %
What's up in Space
October 15, 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.  

ASTEROID UPDATE: Last week when asteroid 2008 TC3 entered Earth's atmosphere over Sudan, "classified assets" were watching. Without naming names, the US government has released a summary of what they saw: "Sensors aboard US satellites detected the impact of a bolide over Africa on 7 October 2008 at 02:45:40 UT. Initial observations put the object at 65.4 km altitude at 20.9o N, 31.4o E. The object detonated at an altitude of approximately 37 km at 20.8 o N, 32.2o E. The total radiated energy was approximately 4.0X1011 joules, equivalent to ~0.1 kilotons of TNT."

ORANGE SEAS: The Moon is more than just shades of gray. Lunar seas are suffused with blue, purple, orange and other colors--you just can't see them at first glance. Last night, Catalin Timosca of Turda, Romania, took a picture that revealed the hidden palette of the Hunter's Moon:

The colors are real. Blue hues reveal titanium-rich areas while orange and purple colors show regions that are low on iron.

For the record, she used a Nikon D40X digital camera, but it wasn't the camera that did the trick. Careful but straightforward processing in Photoshop can turn almost any digital photo of the full Moon into a mineral map. Astronomers working with the Hubble Space Telescope use similar techniques to find valuable ores for future lunar settlements.

Look at the Moon tonight. Does it really seem so gray?

moon photos: from Piotr Majewski of Torun, Poland; from Mohammad Soltanolkottabi of Esfahan, Iran; from Thad V'Soske of Grand Valley, Colorado; from P-M Hedén of Vallentuna, Sweden; from Elias Chasiotis of Markopoulo, Greece; from Martin Mc Kenna of Maghera, Co. Derry, N. Ireland; from Tamas Ladanyi of Veszprem, Hungary; from C.J. Wood of Ridgely, Maryland; from Mila Zinkova of San Francisco, California; from Hunter Outten of Frankford, Delaware; from Edmund E Kasaitis of Manchester, Maryland; from Don Poggensee of Ida Grove, Iowa;

MONSTER STORMS ON SATURN: New images from NASA's Cassini spacecraft reveal that both of Saturn's poles are ringed by "monstrous cyclones" hundreds of times stronger than the biggest hurricanes on Earth. In this side-looking view, shadows highlight the topography of Saturn's south polar vortex:

On the other end of the planet, a north polar storm is circumscribed by a strange cloudy hexagon that remains fixed in place while 300 mph winds swirl inside it. At the moment, Saturn's north pole is shrouded in darkness because it is winter there, but Cassini's infra-red cameras were able to photograph the vortex anyway by sensing the heat it emits into the night: movie.

Researchers think these giant weather systems might powered by deep-seated thunderstorms, although no one can say for sure; the base of the vortices are too deep and cloudy to see. Get the full story from NASA.

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 15, 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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