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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Current conditions
Solar wind
speed: 330.2 km/sec
density: 2.5 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2256 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A0
2245 UT Sep26
24-hr: A0
0935 UT Sep26
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2245 UT
Daily Sun: 26 Sep 08
The sun is blank--no sunspots. Credit: SOHO/MDI
Sunspot number: 0
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 26 Sept. 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= 2
explanation | more data
Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
What is the auroral oval?
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 4.0 nT
Bz: 2.1 nT north
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2257 UT
Coronal Holes:
A solar wind stream flowing from the indicated coronal hole should reach Earth on or about Oct. 2nd. Credit: Hinode X-ray Telescope
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2008 Sep 26 2201 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 Sep 26 2201 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
01 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
01 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
What's up in Space
September 26, 2008
AURORA ALERTS: Did you miss the Northern Lights of August 9th? Next time get a wake-up call from Space Weather PHONE.  

CHINESE SPACE LAUNCH: Taikonauts onboard China's Shenzhou 7 spacecraft are orbiting Earth and preparing for their country's historic first spacewalk. Zhai Zhigang will step into space on Saturday, Sept. 27th, at 4:30 pm local time in China; only a slender tether will connect him to his space capsule traveling faster than 17,000 mph. Both Shenzhou 7 and the rocket that launched it on Sept. 25th are visible to the naked eye as they race around Earth. Check the Satellite Tracker for viewing times.

Sighting reports: from Joe Ricci of Rochester, New York; from Xiaojin Zhu of Madison, Wisconsin; from Michal Zolnowski of Croatia, Island Brac

MOVING MARS ROCK: What lies underneath a Mars rock? Phoenix mission scientists decided to find out. On Monday, Sept. 22nd, they commanded the lander to extend its robotic arm and move a rock nicknamed "Headless." Put on your 3D glasses to observe the result:

Graphic artist Patrick Vantuyne of Belgium created the anaglyph by combining two slightly-offset photos from Phoenix's robotic arm camera. "I demonstrate here that you don't need a stereo camera to make 3D images; offset photos work, too. The same technique was used to make a 3D micro-photograph of a rock encountered by NASA's Spirit rover."

Now that Headless has been moved, Phoenix can begin to scrape and scoop some of the icy soil formerly hidden. Of particular interest is the depth of the ice layer beneath the rock. Researchers think rocks on the ground may interfere with a water cycle linking the martian atmosphere with subsurface ice. A measurement of ice depth should distinguish between competing theories. Stay tuned for updates.

LOW SOLAR WIND: The solar wind is losing power. That's the surprising conclusion of scientists working with data from the Ulysses spacecraft, which has been circling the sun in a polar orbit for nearly 20 years. During that time solar wind pressure has dropped more than 20%. Note the blue curve in the "clock plot" below:

Blue traces solar wind pressure now. For comparison, green traces the significantly higher pressure of the mid-1990s. How this difference fits into the big picture of solar activity over the centuries, no one knows, because solar wind measurements began only 50 years ago with the start of the Space Age. Early measurements were spotty and not always well-calibrated, so, in fact, we know the solar wind well for even less than 50 years. Consequences of low solar wind include fewer geomagnetic storms, more cosmic rays, and NASA's Voyager spacecraft exiting the solar system sooner than anyone expected. Get the full story from Science@NASA.

Sept. 2008 Aurora Gallery
[Aurora Alerts] [Night Sky Cameras]

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 September 26, 2008 , there were 982 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Sept. 2008 Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
2003 WT153
Sept. 7
5.8 LD
11 m
1996 HW1
Sept. 12
53 LD
3.7 km
2003 SW130
Sept. 19
8.6 LD
7 m
1998 UO1
Sept. 26
25 LD
2.0 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.
  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, -- This site is penned daily by Dr. Tony Phillips.
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