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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Current conditions
Solar wind
speed: 746.0 km/sec
density: 0.6 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2245 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A0
2210 UT Mar01
24-hr: A0
1345 UT Mar01
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2245 UT
Daily Sun: 01 Mar 08
The sun is blank--no sunspots. Credit: SOHO/MDI
Sunspot number: 0
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 01 Mar 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= 3 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 5
explanation | more data
Current Auroral Oval:

Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
What is the auroral oval?
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 3.6 nT
Bz: 1.5 nT south
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2246 UT
Coronal Holes:
Earth is inside a solar wind stream flowing from the indicated coronal hole. Credit: Hinode X-Ray Telescope
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2008 Mar 01 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 Mar 01 2203 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
50 %
30 %
20 %
10 %
05 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
40 %
30 %
35 %
20 %
10 %
05 %

What's up in Space
March 1, 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.   mySKY

MORNING SHOW: "I woke up early this morning, stepped outside and saw four bright, beautiful objects in the twilight," reports Kenneith Hui Ho-Keung of Hong Kong. "Venus, Mercury, Jupiter and the Moon were lined up behind the wind turbines of the Ho Koon Education cum Astronomical Centre." Photos: #1, #2. Readers, you don't need to be in Hong Kong to see this show. The planets are on display at dawn all weekend long and all around the world. Wake up and look: sky map.

AURORA WATCH: Would you like to see the Northern Lights this weekend? Take the midnight flight from Los Angeles to London. Here is the view from a port window on Feb. 29th:

"I was flying over the Hudson Bay en route from LAX to Heathrow," says photographer Jeff Hapeman. "I always keep an eye on the aurora forecast before this flight and pack my camera (a Canon 1D Mark III) if there is a good chance of a display."

The lights Hapeman saw were caused by a solar wind stream hitting Earth's magnetic field. The solar wind continues to blow and NOAA forecasters estimate a 30% chance of more geomagnetic activity tonight. Observing tip: Pick a window seat.

February 2008 Aurora Gallery
[Interactive World Map of Aurora Sightings]
[Aurora Alerts] [Night Sky Cameras]

LUNAR LIBRATION: A few days ago, NASA released new high-resolution radar maps of the Moon's south pole, revealing a fantastic land with peaks as high as Mt McKinley and craters four times deeper than the Grand Canyon. But wait. How did NASA radars located in California see the south pole of the Moon? The answer is lunar libration. As the Moon goes around its orbit, it seems to nod back and forth, tipping its north pole toward Earth one week and its south pole toward Earth two weeks later. The effect is illustrated in this composite photo of February's quarter moons:

"Two photos taken at first quarter and 3rd quarter were combined to demonstrate the libration of the Moon," says photographer Howard Eskildsen of Ocala, Florida. "The Ptolemaeus group (three distinctive craters near center of photo) were used as the anchor point."

Libration happens because the Moon's orbit is slightly elliptical (5%) and slightly tilted (5°). The two effects combine to provide a constantly changing point of view as the Moon goes around Earth. It is often said that the same side (i.e., the same 50%) of the Moon always faces our planet, but libration allows us to observe not just 50% but rather 59% of the Moon's surface.

Lunar Eclipse Photo Gallery
[Interactive World Map of Eclipse Photos]

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. [comment]
On March 1, 2008 there were 934 potentially hazardous asteroids.
March 2008 Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
2008 DH5
Mar. 5
7.1 LD
60 m
1620 Geographos
Mar. 17
49 LD
3 km
2003 FY6
Mar. 21
6.3 LD
145 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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