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SpaceWeather.com -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
SPACE WEATHER
Current conditions
Solar wind
speed: 303.8 km/sec
density: 1.4 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2218 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A0
2245 UT Oct09
24-hr: A0
2245 UT Oct09
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2245 UT
Daily Sun: 09 Oct 08
The sun is blank--no sunspots. Credit: SOHO/MDI
Sunspot number: 0
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 08 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= 1 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 1
quiet
explanation | more data
Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
Credit: NOAA/POES
What is the auroral oval?
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 1.8 nT
Bz: 0.2 nT north
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2219 UT
Coronal Holes:
A solar wind stream flowing from the indicated coronal hole could reach Earth on or about Oct. 10th. Credit: SOHO Extreme UV Telescope
SPACE WEATHER
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2008 Oct 09 2201 UTC
FLARE
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
CLASS M
01 %
01 %
CLASS X
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 09 2201 UTC
Mid-latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
ACTIVE
05 %
05 %
MINOR
01 %
01 %
SEVERE
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
ACTIVE
10 %
10 %
MINOR
01 %
01 %
SEVERE
01 %
01 %
What's up in Space
October 9, 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.  

SOLAR SAILING: When NASA's MESSENGER spacecraft skimmed past Mercury on Oct. 6th, it did so with record-setting precision. "Our goal was to fly 200 kilometers from the planet’s surface, and we missed that target by only 0.6 kilometers," says mission designer Jim McAdams of Johns Hopkins University. This was made possible by a form of solar sailing: controllers rotated the spacecraft and tilted its solar panels to catch the very small pressure of sunlight and fine-tune the spacecraft’s trajectory. Congratulations to the MESSENGER nav-team!

SOLAR ACTIVITY: By the standard of sunspot counts, solar activity is low. Maybe there should be a different standard:


Click to launch a 1.4 MB movie

NASA's STEREO-A spacecraft recorded this spectacular prominence on Sept. 29th. No sunspot was involved. A magnetic filament snaking around the sun's north pole suddenly became unstable and erupted, disgorging a cloud of hydrogen large enough to swallow a hundred Earths.

How and why prominences erupt is a topic of ongoing research. The blasts are unpredictable, which is why today's sun is so full of promise: image. By the standard of prominences, solar activity is looking up.

THE SOURCE: MESSENGER's high-precision flyby of Mercury on Monday yielded a surprise: one side of the planet looks like a peeled tangerine: photo. The illusion is created by globe-straddling rays, which emerge from a crater near Mercury's north pole:

This high-resolution snapshot, taken as MESSENGER was flying away from the planet, shows the "tangerine stripes" converging on their source. It is a young, unnamed crater about 68 miles in diameter. Radars on Earth had seen this crater before, but never in much detail. MESSENGER's close-up photography has revealed its fruity nature for the first time.

No one knows what made the crater (a comet? an asteroid?) or why the debris flew so far from the impact site. Answers may emerge as mission scientists analyze additional photos and sensor readings MESSENGER is beaming back now. Meanwhile, it's a Mercury mystery; browse the flyby gallery for more.


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 9, 2008 there were 990 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Oct. 2008 Earth-asteroid encounters:
Asteroid
Date(UT)
Miss Distance
Mag.
Size
2008 QS11
Oct. 2
11 LD
14
470 m
2008 SH148
Oct. 4
5.8 LD
19
26 m
2005 GN59
Oct. 6
20 LD
15
1.4 km
2008 TC3
Oct. 7
IMPACT
-13
3 m
2008 TZ
Oct. 10
5.3 LD
18
37 m
1999 VP11
Oct. 16
72 LD
17
860 m
2001 UY4
Oct. 18
74 LD
17
1.1 km
2000 EX106
Oct. 23
69 LD
18
1.1 km
2005 VN
Oct. 29
4.1 LD
15
116 m
4179 Toutatis
Nov. 9
20 LD
14
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.
STEREO
  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, SpaceWeather.com -- This site is penned daily by Dr. Tony Phillips.
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