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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Current conditions
Solar wind
speed: 345.9 km/sec
density: 1.4 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2245 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A9
1940 UT Jan01
24-hr: C1
1535 UT Jan01
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2245 UT
Daily Sun: 01 Jan 08
A new actiove region may be emerging over the sun's eastern limb. Credit: SOHO/MDI
Sunspot number: 0
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 31 Dec 2007
Far side of the Sun:
This holographic image reveals one possible sunspot 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
Updated: 2008 Jan 01 2148 UT
What is the auroral oval?
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 2.1 nT
Bz: 0.5 nT north
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2246 UT
Coronal Holes:
A solar wind stream flowing from the indicated coronal hole should reach Earth on Jan. 3rd or 4th. Credit: Hinode X-ray Telescope
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2008 Jan 01 2203 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
15 %
15 %
05 %
05 %
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 Jan 01 2203 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
05 %
05 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
10 %
10 %
05 %
05 %
01 %
01 %

What's up in Space
January 1, 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.

SOLAR ACTIVITY: On Dec. 31st around 0110 UTC, something exploded just behind the sun's eastern limb. The blast unleashed a C8-class solar flare and hurled a bright CME into space. These events may signal the impending return of large sunspot 978, which has spent the past two weeks transiting the far side of the sun.

Almost a full day after the explosion, astrophotographer Gary Palmer of Los Angeles trained his SolarMax90 on the eastern limb of the sun and saw "no more flares, but plenty of undulating plasma."

The blast site is still seething with activity. But what is it? An old sunspot? An unstable magnetic filament? We should get a better view later today or tomorrow as the sun's rotation brings the tempest over the limb into a direct line of sight from Earth. Stay tuned for updates.

more images: from Daisuke Tomiyasu of Higashinada, Kobe, Hyogo, JAPAN; from John Nassr of Baguio, the Philippines;

NEW YEARS COMET: Tonight, after sunset, take your binoculars outside and scan the sky right above your head. You may find a little emerald fuzzball--Comet 8P/Tuttle. The comet is making its closest approach to Earth (24 million miles) on Jan. 1st and 2nd. Shining like a ~6th magnitude star, it is barely visible to the unaided eye, but a fine target for binoculars and backyard telescopes: sky map.

On Dec. 30th, Tom Victor Kolkin of Notteroy, Norway, caught the comet streaking past spiral galaxy M33:

"This shows the comet's path for 5 hours and 5 min," says Kolkin who recorded the comet's motion using a 4-inch refracting telescope and a Canon 350D digital camera.

On the same night in Payson, Arizona, astrphotographer Chris Schur opened the shutter of his camera for 3 hours and, he says,"what a surprise it was to record a beautifully thin tail streaming from the comet: image."

The remarkable green color of the comet recorded so visidly in these snapshots is a sign of cyanogen (CN, a poisonous gas) and diatomic carbon (C2) in the comet's atmosphere. Both substances glow emerald-green when exposed to UV sunlight in the near vacuum of space.

Comet 8P/Tuttle Photo Gallery
[World Map of Comet Sightings]
[sky map] [ephemeris] [orbit] [comet binoculars]

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 January 1, 2008 there were 913 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Jan. 2008 Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
2005 WJ56
Jan. 10
10.9 LD
1.2 km
1685 Toro
Jan. 24
76 LD
6.2 km
2007 TU24
Jan. 29
1.4 LD
400 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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