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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Current conditions
Solar wind
speed: 382.3 km/sec
density: 2.6 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2246 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A4
1720 UT Mar31
24-hr: B1
0535 UT Mar31
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2245 UT
Daily Sun: 31 Mar 08
The three old-cycle sunspots now crossing the sun are decaying and pose little threat for solar flares. Credit: SOHO/MDI
Sunspot number: 41
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 30 Mar 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= 2
explanation | more data
Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
What is the auroral oval?
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 4.0 nT
Bz: 3.1 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 April 4th or 5th. Credit:SOHO Extreme UV Telescope
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2008 Mar 31 2203 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 Mar 31 2203 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
15 %
15 %
05 %
05 %
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
15 %
15 %
10 %
10 %
01 %
01 %
What's up in Space
March 31, 2008
Where's Saturn? Is that a UFO--or the ISS? What's the name of that star? Get the answers from mySKY--a fun new astronomy helper from Meade.   mySKY

DELICATE CONJUNCTION: Circle this date on your calendar: April 8th. On the evening of that Tuesday, the 12% crescent Moon will graze the Pleiades star cluster. The sight of these two delicate heavenly bodies in beautiful conjunction is best enjoyed through binoculars or a small telescope, but the naked eye works, too. Don't miss it: sky map.

JULES VERNE & THE ISS: On Saturday night, March 29th, the unmanned Jules Verne cargo carrier proved to ESA ground controllers that it could navigate on its own around the International Space Station. During the maneuvers, amateur astronomer Christoph Rollwagen photographed the pair flying over his rooftop in Potsdam-Bornstedt, Germany:

In Rollwagen's movie of the flyby, the spacecraft seem to vanish in mid-flight; that happens when they enter the dark shadow of Earth. "The cargo carrier flew in tandem almost 8 seconds in front of the station--a real distance of about 60 km," he says.

The distance will shrink further tonight, March 31st, when Jules Verne approaches the ISS again, stopping only 11 meters from the docking port and then backing away. This is practice for an actual, automated docking on April 3rd. European sky watchers can see these events with their own eyes as the two spacecraft fly over their continent in the evenings ahead.

more images: from Milan Antos of Jablonec nad Nisou, the Czech Republic; from Robert Gillette of Ossipee, New Hampshire; from Alexandru Sebastian Grigore of Targoviste, Romania; from Jirka Bulant of Orlov, the Czech Republic; from Tom A. Warner of Rapid City, South Dakota; from Stuart Horner of Terrace, B.C. Canada;

SUN CATS & DOGS: Last week over Maghera, Northern Ireland, a bank of icy clouds drifted across the sun and formed a luminous halo. "My cat jumped onto the garden fence," says onlooker Martin McKenna, "so I used 'Gizmo' to block the sun's glare and take this picture."

McKenna looked around for the sundogs which so often accompany circular halos--and, lo, "there was my own dog 'Benson.' The halo was also reflected from a puddle at my feet. All in all, a very good show!"

more images: from Agnes Kiricsi of Vecsés, Hungary; from Arnold Gentz of Sapanta, Romania; from Kamil Poplata in the Zabor swamps near Wroclaw, Poland; from Jun Lao of Mason, Ohio;

March 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. [comment]
On March 31, 2008 there were 946 potentially hazardous asteroids.
March 2008 Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
2008 DH5
Mar. 5
7.1 LD
60 m
2008 EZ7
Mar. 9
0.4 LD
18 m
2008 ED8
Mar. 10
1.4 LD
64 m
2008 EF32
Mar. 10
0.2 LD
6 m
2008 EM68
Mar. 10
0.6 LD
12 m
1620 Geographos
Mar. 17
49 LD
3 km
2003 FY6
Mar. 21
6.3 LD
145 m
2008 FK
Mar. 23
0.8 LD
15 m
2008 FP
Mar. 29
0.4 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 bureau for real-time monitoring of solar and geophysical events, research in solar-terrestrial physics, and forecasting solar and geophysical disturbances.
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.
Daily Sunspot Summaries
  From the NOAA Space Environment Center
Current Solar Images
  from the National Solar Data Analysis Center
  more links...
©2008, -- This site is penned daily by Dr. Tony Phillips.
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