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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Current conditions
Solar wind
speed: 677.8 km/sec
density: 4.6 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2244 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A4
2015 UT Jan05
24-hr: A7
1300 UT Jan05
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2245 UT
Daily Sun: 05 Jan 08
High-latitude sunspot 981 is the first sunspot of the next solar cycle, Solar Cycle 24. Credit: SOHO/MDI
Sunspot number: 26
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 04 Jan 2008
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= 3 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 4
explanation | more data
Current Auroral Oval:

Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
Updated: 2008 Jan 05 2113 UT
What is the auroral oval?
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 8.2 nT
Bz: 6.0 nT north
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2245 UT
Coronal Holes:
Earth is entering a solar wind stream flowing from the indicated coronal hole. Credit: SOHO Extreme UV Telescope
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2008 Jan 05 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 Jan 05 2203 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
45 %
45 %
15 %
15 %
05 %
05 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
40 %
40 %
25 %
25 %
10 %
10 %

What's up in Space
January 5, 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.

AURORA WATCH: High-latitude sky watchers should be alert for auroras tonight. A high-speed solar wind stream is buffeting Earth's magnetic field and this could spark a geomagnetic storm.

SOLAR CYCLE 24 BEGINS: Solar physicists have been waiting for the appearance of a reversed-polarity sunspot to signal the start of the next solar cycle. The wait is over. Yesterday, a magnetically reversed sunspot emerged at solar latitude 30 N, shown in this photo taken by Greg Piepol of Rockville, Maryland:

Photo details: Coronado SolarMax90 CaK, Lumenera SKYnyx 2-2 CCD

For reasons explained in a recent Science@NASA story, this marks the beginning of Solar Cycle 24 and the first step toward a new solar maximum. Intense solar activity won't begin right away. Solar cycles usually take a few years to build from solar minimum (where we are now) to Solar Max (expected in 2011 or 2012). It's a slow journey, but we're on our way!

more images: from John Nassr of Baguio, Philippines; from Cai-Uso Wohler of Bispingen, Germany.

QUADRANTID METEORS: On Friday morning, Jan. 4th, the skies above Guffey, Colorado, were streaked with meteors. Chris Peterson caught 46 of them with his all-sky camera at the Cloudbait Observatory:

Click to view fireball videos

"All were brighter than 1st magnitude," says Peterson, "and a number of these meteors were fireballs (brighter than magnitude -4)."

The source of the display: near-Earth asteroid 2003 EH1. Every year in early January, Earth passes through a stream of dust trailing the asteroid, giving rise to the annual Quadrantid meteor shower. Studies of these early-January showers suggest that 2003 EH1 is not really an asteroid, but rather the largest fragment of a comet that broke apart circa 1490 AD. Debris from the breakup drifted toward our planet for ~500 years and now appears in the form of Quadrantid meteors.

Comet 17P/Holmes 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 5, 2008 there were 916 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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