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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Current conditions
Solar wind
speed: 471.1 km/sec
density: 2.4 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2245 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A0
2245 UT Feb20
24-hr: A0
0710 UT Feb20
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2245 UT
Daily Sun: 19 Feb 08
The sun is blank--no sunspots. Credit: SOHO/MDI
Sunspot number: 0
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 19 Feb 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= 3
explanation | more data
Current Auroral Oval:

Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
What is the auroral oval?
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 5.1 nT
Bz: 0.9 nT north
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2247 UT
Coronal Holes:
A weak solar wind stream flowing from this minor coronal hole could reach Earth on or about Feb. 21st. Credit: SOHO Extreme UV Telescope
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2008 Feb 20 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 Feb 20 2203 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
10 %
05 %
05 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
20 %
10 %
10 %
05 %
05 %
01 %

What's up in Space
February 20, 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

ASAT DELAY? Rough waters in the Pacific may delay the US Navy's attempt to destroy spy satellite USA 193. According to press reports, an ASAT missile launch originally scheduled for Feb. 20th could be delayed 24 hours or more to improve the chances of a successful strike. Pilots and sailors have been advised to avoid a patch of ocean near Maui for the next five days (Feb. 21-25) around 5:30 p.m. Hawaii time when USA 193 is passing overhead. These represent potential launch windows. [comment]

Amateur astronomers: If you're planning to attempt photography or other observations of the Navy's ASAT attempt on USA 193, NBC News would like to interview you before 5 pm EST today. For more information please contact NBC News producer Scott Foster.

TOTAL LUNAR ECLIPSE: Tonight the full Moon over Europe and the Americas will turn a delightful shade of red. It's a total lunar eclipse—the last one until Dec. 2010. Exactly when should you look? Click here for an animated timetable.

As explained in a recent Science@NASA story, red isn't the only color to look for when the Moon glides through Earth's shadow. Observers of several recent lunar eclipses have reported a flash of turquoise. For example, note the upper left corner of the above photo taken by Jens Hackmann during the European lunar eclipse of March 2007.

The source of the turquoise is ozone. Earth's ozone layer absorbs red sunlight while allowing blue rays to pass. This has the effect of turning Earth's shadow turquoise-blue around the edges. Look for it during the first and last minutes of totality (10:01 pm EST and 10:51 pm EST).

SPY-SAT SIGHTINGS: Until USA 193 is shot down, it remains visible to sky watchers who know when to look. Amateur astronomer Dan Bush took this picture of USA-193 on the evening of Feb. 18th as it passed over Albany, Missouri:

"It was moving right along (quickly) and gave the appearance of being out of control," says Bush. "This is a 15 second exposure using my Nikon D200 at ISO 640." Experienced sky watchers estimate the brightness of the satellite in the magnitude range +1.5 to -0.5, i.e., similar to the stars of Orion and an easy target for off-the-shelf digital cameras.

more images: from Martin Popek of Nydek, Czech Republic

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 February 20, 2008 there were 927 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Feb. 2008 Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
2008 CT1
Feb. 5
0.3 LD
13 m
2007 DA
Feb. 12
9.8 LD
140 m
2008 CK70
Feb. 15
1.0 LD
40 m
4450 Pan
Feb. 19
15.9 LD
1.6 km
2002 TD66
Feb. 26
16.7 LD
440 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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