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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Current conditions
Solar wind
speed: 290.0 km/sec
density: 3.3 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2247 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A0
2245 UT Sep23
24-hr: A0
0020 UT Sep23
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2245 UT
Daily Sun: 23 Sep 08
Small sunspot 1002 is a member of new Solar Cycle 24. Credit: SOHO/MDI
Sunspot number: 18
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 22 Sept. 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= 1
explanation | more data
Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
What is the auroral oval?
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 5.6 nT
Bz: 0.7 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: SOHO Extreme UV Telescope
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2008 Sep 23 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 Sep 23 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
September 23, 2008
AURORA ALERTS: Did you miss the Northern Lights of August 9th? Next time get a wake-up call from Space Weather PHONE.  

SOLAR WIND LOSING POWER: .In a briefing today at NASA headquarters, solar physicists announced that the solar wind is losing pressure, hitting a 50-year record low for the Space Age. This development has repercussions across the solar system. Get the full story from Science@NASA.

FAKE MOON OF JUPITER: Got a backyard telescope? Tonight, point it at Jupiter. The giant planet is passing mere arcminutes from a 6th magnitude star in Sagittarius, creating the illusion of an extra moon. See if you can distinguish the genuine satellites from the imposter: sky map.

NEW SUNSPOT: A new sunspot is emerging in the sun's northern hemisphere. After several months of almost-relentlessly blank suns, "this is like a breath of fresh plasma," says photographer Pete Lawrence who sends this picture from Selsey, UK:

The magnetic polarity of the emerging spot identifies it as a member of new Sunspot Cycle 24. Because the year 2008 has brought so many blank suns, some observers have wondered if we are ever going to climb out of the ongoing deep solar minimum. This new sunspot is an encouraging sign that the 11-year solar cycle is indeed progressing, albeit slowly.

more images: from Paul Maxson of Surprise, Arizona; from N. Hebert et al. of South Portland, Maine; from Didier Favre of Brétigny sur Orge, France; from Robert Arnold of Isle of Skye, Scotland; from Adrian Guzman of San Jose, California; from Dave Gradwell of Birr, Ireland; from Peter Paice of Belfast, Northern Ireland; from Stuart Thomson of Melbourne, Australia;

SIGHTINGS: "Last night (Sept. 22), I watched as the International Space Station (ISS) chased Jules Verne across the sky," reports photographer Rick Stankiewicz of Ontario, Canada. "This sequence of images shows them rising in the west over my backyard at about 8:52 pm local time."

"I was lucky to have caught these two spacecraft in the same field of view," he says. "Until recently they were separated in their orbits by several minutes, but now they appear to be converging and are within 30 seconds of one another. My goal was to capture a shot of the Jules Verne before it is destroyed forever on Sept. 29th when ESA mission controllers command it to re-enter Earth's atmosphere over the south Pacific Ocean."

The convergence of the two spacecraft is a deliberate maneuver, putting ISS astronauts in good a position to witness Jules Verne's reentry and fiery destruction. Researchers on two NASA aircraft will be watching, too. Stay tuned for fireball pictures!

Until then, you the reader may be able to see Jules Verne gliding over your own backyard with ISS in hot pursuit. Check the Satellite Tracker for viewing times.

more images: from Joe Ricci of Rochester, New York; from Matthew Cook of Ann Arbor, Michigan; from Phillip Chee of South Monaghan, Ontario, Canada; from Joe Ricci of Rochester, New York; from Günther Strauch of Borken, NRW, Germany; from Steve Beckle of Aurora, Illinois;

Sept. 2008 Aurora Gallery
[Aurora Alerts] [Night Sky Cameras]

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 September 23, 2008 , there were 980 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Sept. 2008 Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
2003 WT153
Sept. 7
5.8 LD
11 m
1996 HW1
Sept. 12
53 LD
3.7 km
2003 SW130
Sept. 19
8.6 LD
7 m
1998 UO1
Sept. 26
25 LD
2.0 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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