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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Current conditions
Solar wind
speed: 398.7 km/sec
density: 4.7 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2246 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A0
2245 UT Nov15
24-hr: A0
1115 UT Nov15
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2245 UT
Daily Sun: 15 Nov 08
In this magnetic map of the sun, shades of gray denote magnetic polarity. Black is negative (S), white is positive (N). The N-S orientation of sunspot 1008 identifies it as a member of new Solar Cycle 24. Credit: SOHO/MDI

more images: from Pavol Rapavy of Rimavska Sobota, Slovakia; from Alcaria Rego of Almada, Portugal; from Peter Paice of Belfast, Northern Ireland
Sunspot number: 12
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 13 Nov. 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= 2 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 2
explanation | more data
Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
What is the auroral oval?
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 8.5 nT
Bz: 5.7 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 Nov 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 Nov 15 2201 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
05 %
05 %
01 %
01 %
00 %
00 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
05 %
05 %
01 %
01 %
00 %
00 %
What's up in Space
November 15, 2008
SIGHTINGS: Would you like a call when the space shuttle is about to fly over your home town? Sign up for Spaceweather PHONE.  

SUNSET PLANETS: When the sun goes down tonight, step outside and look southwest. What you see might surprise you: Venus and Jupiter, so far apart only a week ago, are now beautifully close together. The two brightest planets are rapidly converging on a spot in Sagittarius where they will form a rare double-conjunction with the Moon on Dec. 1st. It's a good show; start watching now: sky map.

SEE THE SHUTTLE: Shuttle Endeavour is in orbit and you may be able to see it. Check the Simple Satellite Tracker for flyby times.

SHUTTLE LAUNCH: Space shuttle Endeavour blasted off from Kennedy Space Center last night at 7:55 pm EST. The spectacular after-dark launch propelled the shuttle out of Earth's atmosphere and into orbit for a two-week rendezvous with the International Space Station (ISS). "Here's the view from Titusville, Florida," says photographer Mike Deep:

Click to view the image with labels

"The combination of the launch, a nearly full moon, high cirrus clouds, and some low haze made for an amazing show," he says. "There was even a brief moondog ten minutes before launch. I used a Canon 30D to take these pictures."

Endeavour is now en route to the ISS where it will dock on Sunday and deliver more than 14,000 pounds of supplies and equipment. The station will receive a new toilet and kitchenette, extra sleeping quarters, and a waste recycling system necessary to expand the crew from three to six in the spring of 2009. NASA describes the mission as "home improvement."

more images: from Mark Staples of Cape Canaveral; from Ron Netzley of Palm Bay, Florida; from Adam Bojanowski of Oviedo, Florida;

LUNAR TRANSIT: On Nov. 10th in the sky above Livermore, California, a shadow flitted across the nearly-full Moon. It moved too fast for the human eye, but astronomer Ed Morana's digital video camera was able to freeze the action:

Photo details: Meade 10" LX200GPS, Watec 902H CCD video camera

"It's the International Space Station almost directly in front of crater Tycho" says Morana. The ISS orbits Earth at 17,000 mph; Morana's 4-second video of the transit shows how quickly it crossed the Moon. "In the field, I did not see the ISS transit at all. It was only when I returned home and reviewed the video tape, that I noticed a very fast streak zipping through the corner of the field of view."

Morana is a long-time photographer of lunar transits and he has noticed big changes in the space station's silhouette. "Additional solar panels, two science labs (Columbus and Kibo), and a docking port (Harmony) have all been deployed since my last transit photo two years ago." Here is a side-by-side comparison.

The silhouette will change again on Sunday, Nov 16th, when shuttle Endeavour docks, adding its winged outline to that of the space station. All you need now is a transit prediction.

2008 Taurid Fireball Gallery
[sky map] [2005 Taurids: on Earth, on the Moon]

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 November 15, 2008 there were 997 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Nov. 2008 Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
2008 TX3
Nov. 1
9 LD
45 m
2008 UT95
Nov. 2
1.5 LD
15 m
2008 UC7
Nov. 2
4.5 LD
17 m
2008 VM
Nov. 3
0.1 LD
4 m
2008 VA4
Nov. 4
7.7 LD
49 m
2008 VB4
Nov. 4
1.3 LD
10 m
2008 VC
Nov. 4
4.4 LD
18 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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