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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Current conditions
Solar wind
speed: 284.4 km/sec
density: 3.6 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2246 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A0
2245 UT Nov22
24-hr: A0
2245 UT Nov22
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2245 UT
Daily Sun: 22 Nov 08
The sun is blank--no sunspots. Credit: SOHO/MDI

more images: from Andy Yeung of Hong Kong
Sunspot number: 0
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 20 Nov. 2008
Far side of the Sun:
This holographic image reveals one or two small sunspots on the far side of the sun. Image credit: SOHO/MDI
Planetary K-index
Now: Kp= 0 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 1
explanation | more data
Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
What is the auroral oval?
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 1.7 nT
Bz: 0.0 nT
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2247 UT
Coronal Holes:
A solar wind stream flowing from the indicated coronal hole should reach Earth on or about Nov. 25th. Credit: SOHO Extreme UV Telescope
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2008 Nov 22 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 22 2201 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
05 %
05 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
05 %
05 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
What's up in Space
November 22, 2008
NORTHERN LIGHTS: Did you sleep through the auroras of November? Next time get a wake-up call: Spaceweather PHONE.  

SOLAR WIND RIPS MARS: The solar wind appears to be ripping big chunks of air from the atmosphere of Mars. This could help solve a longstanding mystery about the Red Planet: full story.

LEONID OUTBURST: Just as predicted, the Leonid meteor shower surged during the early hours of Nov. 17th. "Earth passed through a filament of debris shed by parent comet 55P/Tempel-Tuttle in the year 1466," says forecaster Jérémie Vaubaillon of Caltech. The result was a sharp flurry of meteors numbering almost 90 per hour. "In Slovakia, we saw many bright and quick Leonids during the peak," reports Roman Piffl. Here is one of them over the town of Marianka:

Photo details: Nikon D200, 800 ASA, 30s exposure

Onlookers in eastern Europe and Asia, where rates were highest, say the flurry was rich in bright meteors. "Most were in the magnitude range -3 to +3 magnitude," says Juraj Toth of Modra, Slovakia: photos. "One fireball was about magnitude -8!"

Vaubaillon's model for the 1466 debris stream predicted an abundance of large particles--hence the bright display. "These results show that when the orbit of a comet is well-known, the prediction of meteor showers can be very precise and reliable," he says. "Comet 55P was first observed in 1366 making the orbit well constrained even for an epoch such as 1466."

more images: from Chris Peterson of Guffey, Colorado; from Bob Johnson of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan; from Sietse Dijkstra of Lattrop, Overijssel, The Netherlands;

FALSE AURORAS: Warning: Not all northern lights are aurora borealis. Consider the following display of "false auroras" over Ambler, Pennsylvania, on Nov 19th:

Photo details: Nikon D200, ISO 1600, f5, 10s exposure

"Luminous vertical spikes emanated down from all areas of the sky," reports photographer Herman Fala. "They looked like Northern Lights, but did not seem to be moving or shimmering as I expected auroras to do." Furthermore, solar activity was low and no geomagnetic storm was in progress at the time of the display.

What Fala witnessed was an apparition of urban light pillars. Plate-shaped ice crystals flutter down from high clouds and intercept the rays of unshielded city lights, creating an aurora-like display that truly has nothing to do with auroras. Light pillars are beautiful but they are also a sign of spreading light pollution that threatens to wipe genuine auroras (and stars and planets and comets) out of the night sky forever. Enjoy them, but also be mindful of their dark significance.

High-latitude sky watchers should be alert for real auroras next week. A solar wind stream is heading for Earth and it could spark geomagnetic storms when it arrives on Nov. 25th.

Nov. 2008 Aurora Gallery
[Previous Novembers: 2007, 2006, 2004, 2003, 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 November 22, 2008 there were 999 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
2008 WO2
Nov. 16
1.0 LD
5 m
2004 XK3
Nov. 18
1.8 LD
60 m
2008 VZ3
Nov. 22
5.7 LD
55 m
2008 WD
Nov. 24
6.9 LD
30 m
2008 WC
Nov. 26
5.1 LD
23 m
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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