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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Current conditions
Solar wind
speed: 311.0 km/sec
density: 1.7 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2247 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A0
2245 UT Oct16
24-hr: A0
0500 UT Oct16
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2245 UT
Daily Sun: 16 Oct 08
Small new-cycle sunspot 1005 is quietly persisting. Credit: SOHO/MDI
Sunspot number: 13
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 16 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= 0 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: 2.0 nT
Bz: 0.4 nT north
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 16 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 16 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 %
01 %
01 %
What's up in Space
October 16, 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.  

GAMMA-RAY BURSTS: More than four decades after they were discovered, gamma-ray bursts continue to mystify astrophysicists. Next week, experts from 25 countries will converge on Huntsville, Alabama, to discuss and debate clues to the biggest explosions since the Big Bang itself: full story.

SOLAR HOT SPOTS: NASA's Stereo-B spacecraft is monitoring a string of hot spots where magnetic fields are poking through the solar surface. All four are located at high latitude, a sign that they belong to new Solar Cycle 24:

Stereo-B enjoys a unique view of the sun. Because it lags 38o behind Earth in its orbit, Stereo-B is able to look down on a broad swath of sun invisible from our planet. The spacecraft's "over-the-horizon" view clearly reveals the line of active regions.

Does this mean Solar Cycle 24 is picking up steam? Probably, yes, but only a little. Just one of these active regions is a full-fledged sunspot (numbered 1005), while the others are merely "proto-sunspots" without a dark sunspot-core. It beats another blank day on the sun! Stay tuned for developments.

SUNSET SKY SHOW: Last Saturday, Oct. 11th, Hawaii photographer Stephen O'Meara joined a crowd of onlookers on the southeastern flank of Mauna Loa "to behold the power of a volcano," he says. "Instead, I was captivated by the magic of Venus."

"Named for the Roman goddess of love, beauty, and fertility, Venus shines down on two lovers in a 'warm' embrace, as they watch molten lava from Kilauea volcano pouring into the tepid Pacific and expanding Hawaii’s Big Island’s southeast coastline."

At the end of the month, this sunset sky show is going to get even better. "On All Hallow’s Eve, Venus will be joined by a slender crescent Moon," notes O'Meara. "Both will share the western stage with fiery red, Antares – the 1st-magnitude heart of Scorpius, the Scorpion. What a treat!" [Halloween sky map]

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 16, 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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