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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Current conditions
Solar wind
speed: 341.1 km/sec
density: 0.4 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2246 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A5
1720 UT Jan02
24-hr: C1
1000 UT Jan02
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2245 UT
Daily Sun: 02 Jan 08
Active region 980 is probably the remains of old sunspot 978. It poses a mild threat for C- and M-class solar flares. Credit: SOHO/MDI
Sunspot number: 11
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 31 Dec 2007
Far side of the Sun:
This holographic image reveals no large sunspots on the far side of the sun. Image credit: SOHO/MDI
Planetary K-index
Now: Kp= 0 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 0
explanation | more data
Current Auroral Oval:

Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
Updated: 2008 Jan 02 2124 UT
What is the auroral oval?
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 3.1 nT
Bz: 1.7 nT north
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2247 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 02 2203 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
10 %
10 %
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 02 2203 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
10 %
15 %
01 %
05 %
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
20 %
25 %
05 %
10 %
01 %
01 %

What's up in Space
January 2, 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.

A SUNSPOT EMERGES: The source of a powerful Dec. 31st explosion behind the sun's eastern limb has rotated into view and it is ... not very impressive. The minor active region is probably the decaying remains of once-giant sunspot 978, which spent the last two weeks transiting the far side of the sun. Unstable magnetic fields in the decaying spot may yet unleash another blast; NOAA forecasters estimate a 15% chance of M-class flares in the next 24 hours.

UPDATE: Today at 0958 UTC, the decaying active region produced a C1-class flare and another bright CME: movie.

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 maps: Jan 1, 2.

On Dec. 30th, in the mountains of northern Italy, Giampaolo Salvato photographed the comet gliding by spiral galaxy M33:

more galaxy-comet encounter photos

"This is a 2 x 5 minute exposure at ISO 1600," says Salvato, who took the picture using his backyard telescope and a Canon 5D digital camera.

The colors in this photo are truly heavenly: The galaxy is blue because of a great number of young and massive blue-white stars outlining the spiral arms. The comet, on the other hand, is green because of cyanogen (CN, a poisonous gas) and diatomic carbon (C2) present 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 2, 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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