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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Current conditions
Solar wind
speed: 368.0 km/sec
density: 1.8 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2246 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A0
1700 UT Oct07
24-hr: A0
1700 UT Oct07
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2245 UT
Daily Sun: 07 Oct 08
The sun is blank--no sunspots. Credit: SOHO/MDI
Sunspot number: 0
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 06 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= 2
explanation | more data
Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
What is the auroral oval?
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 1.4 nT
Bz: 0.2 nT north
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2247 UT
Coronal Holes:
A solar wind stream flowing from the indicated coronal hole should reach Earth on or about Oct. 9th. Credit: SOHO Extreme UV Telescope
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2008 Oct 07 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 Oct 07 2201 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
10 %
10 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
10 %
10 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
What's up in Space
October 7, 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.  

ASTEROID IMPACT--UPDATE: Asteroid 2008 TC3 hit Earth this morning, Oct. 7th, and exploded in the atmosphere over northern Sudan. An infrasound array in Kenya recorded the impact. Dr. Peter Brown of the University of Western Ontario has inspected the data and he estimates that the asteroid hit at 0243 UTC with an energy between 1.1 and 2.1 kilotons of TNT. Most of the 3-meter-wide space rock should have been vaporized in the atmosphere with only small pieces reaching the ground as meteorites.

Image credit: Peter Brown, University of Western Ontario

No pictures of the fireball have been submitted; the impact occurred in a remote area with few and possibly no onlookers capable of recording the event. So far, the only report of a visual sighting comes from Jacob Kuiper, General Aviation meteorologist at the National Weather Service in the Netherlands:

"Half an hour before the predicted impact of asteroid 2008 TC3, I informed an official of Air-France-KLM at Amsterdam airport about the possibility that crews of their airliners in the vicinity of impact would have a chance to see a fireball. And it was a success! I have received confirmation that a KLM airliner, roughly 750 nautical miles southwest of the predicted atmospheric impact position, has observed a short flash just before the expected impact time 0246 UTC. Because of the distance it was not a very large phenomenon, but still a confirmation that some bright meteor has been seen in the predicted direction. Projected on an infrared satellite-image of Meteosat-7 of 0300 UTC, I have indicated the position of the plane (+) and the predicted impact area in Sudan (0)."

2008 TC3 was discovered on Oct. 6th by astronomers using the Mt. Lemmon telescope in Arizona as part of the NASA-funded Catalina Sky Survey for near-Earth objects. Asteroids the size of 2008 TC3 hit Earth 5 to 10 times a year, but this is the first time one has been discovered before it hit.

pre-impact images: from Paolo Beltrame of CAST Astronomical Observatory, Talmassons, Italy; from Eric Allen of Observatoire du Cegep de Trois-Rivieres, Champlain, Qu├ębec; from Ernesto Guido et al. of Remanzacco Observatory, Italy; from S.Korotkiy and T.Kryachko of Kazan State University Astrotel observatory, Russia;

ON THE ROAD AGAIN: After spending a year inside Victoria Crater, Mars rover Opportunity has climbed out and resumed its travels across the red planet. Put on your 3D glasses and enjoy this view of one small crater near the rim of receding Victoria:

Click to view the complete panorama

Graphic artist Patrick Vantuyne created the anaglyph by combining right- and left-eye images from Opportunity's stereo camera. The complete panorama, showing the entirety of Victoria crater in the background, is a must-see.

Next stop: Endeavor, a 14-mile wide crater some 20 times larger than Victoria. To get there, Opportunity will have to drive seven miles, matching the total distance it has traveled since landing on Mars in early 2004. The journey could take two years. "We may not make it, but scientifically speaking that's the right direction to go," says Steve Squyres of Cornell University. "Endeavour is staggeringly large compared to anything we've seen before." Squyres and colleagues hope that peering into the depths of Endeavour will yield new secrets from Mars' wet and wild past--and, oh, the 3D!

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 7, 2008 , there were 988 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Oct. 2008 Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
2008 QS11
Oct. 2
11 LD
470 m
2008 SH148
Oct. 4
5.8 LD
26 m
2005 GN59
Oct. 6
20 LD
1.4 km
2008 TC3
Oct. 7
3 m
2008 TZ
Oct. 10
5.3 LD
37 m
1999 VP11
Oct. 16
72 LD
860 m
2001 UY4
Oct. 18
74 LD
1.1 km
2000 EX106
Oct. 23
69 LD
1.1 km
2005 VN
Oct. 29
4.1 LD
116 m
4179 Toutatis
Nov. 9
20 LD
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.
  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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