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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Current conditions
Solar wind
speed: 347.7 km/sec
density: 0.2 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2244 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A0
2025 UT Oct27
24-hr: A0
2025 UT Oct27
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2245 UT
Daily Sun: 27 Oct 08
The sun is blank--no sunspots. Credit: SOHO/MDI
Sunspot number: 0
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 26 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= 1
explanation | more data
Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
What is the auroral oval?
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 4.7 nT
Bz: 0.3 nT south
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 Oct. 29th. Credit: SOHO Extreme UV Telescope
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2008 Oct 27 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 27 2201 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
05 %
10 %
01 %
05 %
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
10 %
15 %
05 %
05 %
01 %
01 %
What's up in Space
October 27, 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.  

CANADIAN FIREBALL: On Oct. 15th, with no warning, a small stony entered Earth's atmosphere over eastern Canada where it exploded some 37 km above the ground. Movies of the fireball from seven different points of view have just been released by the University of Western Ontario. Using the movies to determine the asteroid's trajectory, researchers have figured out where fragments of the asteroid may have landed; the hunt for meteorites is underway: map.

ORIONID METEORS: Photographing Orion in late October can be tricky. The problem is, meteors keep getting in the way. Just last night, Oct. 26th, German photographer Jens Hackmann was wrapping up a 33 minute exposure when an orange meteor flashed by the Hunter's shoulder:

Hackmann's camera, a Canon 40D, caught a piece of Halley's Comet hitting Earth's atmosphere. Every year around this time, Earth crosses a stream of debris from Halley and the encounter creates a meteor shower called the Orionids. This year's display was not only strong (a maximum of 40 meteors/hr on Oct. 21st) but also persistent: The shower lasted for five days and is only now subsiding. Browse the gallery for more meteors "getting in the way":

2008 Orionid Meteor Gallery
[IMO meteor counts] [2006 Orionids]

BONUS: Sometimes spaceships get in the way, too: photo.

VOLCANIC SUNSETS: Three months ago, Alaska's Kasatochi volcano erupted, hurling more than a million tons of volcanic ash and sulfur dioxide into the stratosphere. Much of that "stuff" is still up there. It's drifting around the northern hemisphere causing displays like this:

"After sunset on Oct. 26th, I saw a lovely purple colour in the western sky," says photographer Pete Glastonbury of Devizes, UK. "It lasted for about 15 minutes."

Purple is one of the telltale signs of a volcanic sunset. Fine volcanic aerosols in the stratosphere scatter blue light which, when mixed with ordinary sunset red, produces a violet hue. But purple isn't the only thing to look for, says atmospheric optics expert Les Cowley. In addition, he advises, "be alert for a very bright yellow twilight arch, fine cloud structure in the arch seen through binoculars, and long diffuse rays and shadows from the west."

One or more of these flags may signal a wisp of volcanic debris drifting over your hometown. Go outside at the end of the day and look west. Kasatochi could be waiting.

more images: from Jeffrey Berkes of West Chester, PA; from Liem Bahneman of Bothell, WA; from John Flude of Lower Willingdon, East Sussex UK; from Andy English in the Cibola National Forest of New Mexico.; from P-M Hedén of Vallentuna, Sweden;

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 27, 2008 there were 992 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. 21
75 LD
2008 UM1
Oct. 22
0.2 LD
2 m
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
2008 TX3
Nov. 1
9 LD
45 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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