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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: 373.9 km/sec
density: 2.3 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2248 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A0
2245 UT Oct23
24-hr: A0
2245 UT Oct23
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2245 UT
Daily Sun: 23 Oct 08
The sun is blank--no sunspots. Credit: SOHO/MDI
Sunspot number: 0
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 22 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= 0 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 2
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: 2.4 nT
Bz: 1.0 nT north
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2248 UT
Coronal Holes:
A solar wind stream flowing from the indicated coronal hole should reach Earth on Oct. 29th or 30th. Credit: SOHO Extreme UV Telescope
SPACE WEATHER
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2008 Oct 23 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 23 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
05 %
05 %
MINOR
01 %
01 %
SEVERE
01 %
01 %
What's up in Space
October 23, 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.  

MISSING GAMMA-RAY BURSTS: A group of gamma-ray bursts at the edge of the Universe has gone missing. This week, researchers have gathered to discuss their whereabouts at a special meeting on gamma-ray mysteries: full story.

ORIONID OUTBURST: The 2008 Orionid meteor shower put on a surprisingly good show. At maximum on Oct. 21st, observers around the world counted 40+ meteors per hour, about twice the usual rate. A fireball monitoring station at the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, recorded this flurry:


Click to view a larger movie (2 MB gif)

In the movie, the "floodlight" arcing slowly across the sky is the Moon. "Lunar glare should have spoiled the show, but the shower was so bright, we saw it despite the Moon's interference," says Bill Cooke of NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office.

The source of the Orionid meteor shower is Halley's Comet. Every year in October, Earth's crosses a stream of Halley-dust, and meteors fly out of the constellation Orion. The extra Orionids of 2008 probably came from a denser-than-usual filament of dust. This is the third October in a row Orionids have surged, suggesting a trend. Maybe next year's outburst won't be such a surprise!

UPDATED: 2008 Orionid Meteor Gallery
[IMO meteor counts] [2006 Orionids]

SUNSET MIRAGE: According to the California almanac, on Oct. 16th the San Francisco sun should have set at 6:30 pm sharp, yet when photographer Mila Zinkova looked at 6:36 pm the sun was still "up"--in strangely distorted form:

"The explanation is simple," says Zinkova. "The picture I took was not a picture of the sun itself, but a mirage of the sun." Furthermore, she points out, there is a boat in the scene--it is the towering brown blob in the foreground! "The view was just incredible."

Atmospheric optics expert Les Cowley explains what happened: "To make this sun mirage, light from the already set sun was channelled around the curvature of the earth inside an immense atmospheric waveguide. Very strong multiple temperature inversions refracted the sun's rays to make a ducted mock-mirage sunset. The nearby boat was also miraged. The California Coast with its cold ocean currents overlaid by warm winds from the land is ideal for seeing sights like these."

more images: from Aymen Ibrahem of Alexandria, Egypt; from Tamas Ladanyi of Balatonvilagos, Hungary; from Simon Thomas of Porec, Croatia; from Peter Pammer of Jauerling, Austria


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 23, 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
Comet Barnard-Boattini
Oct. 22
75 LD
16
unknown
2008 TT26
Oct. 23
3.6 LD
15
70 m
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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