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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Current conditions
Solar wind
speed: 320.8 km/sec
density: 1.7 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2246 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A0
2220 UT Aug23
24-hr: A1
0215 UT Aug23
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2245 UT
Daily Sun: 23 Aug 07
New sunspot 969 poses no threat for strong solar flares. Credit: SOHO/MDI.
Sunspot number: 12
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 22 Aug 2007
Far side of the Sun:
This holographic image reveals one possible sunspot on the far side of the sun, but it may be a false detection. The data on Aug. 19th were noisy. Check back tomorrow for confirmation.. Image credit: SOHO/MDI
Planetary K-index
Now: Kp= 2 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 3
explanation | more data
Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
Updated: 2007 Aug 23 2124 UT
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 1.4 nT
Bz: 0.3 nT north
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2246 UT
Coronal Holes:
A solar wind stream flowing from this coronal hole should reach Earth on or about Aug. 25th. Credit: SOHO Extreme Ultraviolet Telescope
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2007 Aug 23 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: 2007 Aug 23 2203 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
10 %
20 %
05 %
10 %
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
15 %
25 %
05 %
15 %
01 %
05 %
What's up in Space
August 23, 2007
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.

GIGANTIC JETS: Think of them as sprites on steroids: Gigantic Jets are lightning-like discharges that spring from the top of thunderstorms, reaching all the way from the thunderhead to the ionosphere 50+ miles overhead. They're enormous and powerful.

You've never seen one? "Gigantic Jets are very rare," explains atmospheric scientist and Jet-expert Oscar van der Velde of the Université Paul Sabatier's Laboratoire d’Aérologie in Toulouse, France. "The first one was discovered in 2001 by Dr. Victor Pasko in Puerto Rico. Since then fewer than 30 jets have been recorded--mostly over open ocean and on only two occasions over land."

That's why researchers are excited by the events of Aug. 20th. On that night, amateur astronomer Richard Smedley of Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, was hunting for meteors using a low light video camera when he caught two Gigantic Jets instead:

Click on the image to view the 4.5 MB video

"They were much brighter than a typical meteor--more like a fireball," says Smedley. To appreciate the size of these things, consider the following: "They came from a thunderstorm more than 100 miles away in Missouri: map." This means the Jets were about 48 miles tall measured upward from the top of the thundercloud.

Because they connect thunderstorms directly to the ionosphere, Gigantic Jets play some role in the global flow of electricity around our planet, but how big is that role? "No one knows," says van der Velde. "This is cutting-edge research and these photos from Oklahoma provide an exciting new case-study."

Amateur astronomers, you can contribute to this research. Check your local weather radar map for storms just over the horizon, point your meteor cameras in that direction, and click. Gigantic Jets may not be as rare as we think.

NEW SUNSPOT: New sunspot 969 "looks good," says Cai-Uso Wohler of Bispingen, Germany. His photo of the 'spot taken yesterday through a Coronado SolarMax60 reveals a bushy magnetic filament emerging from the sunspot's dark core:

The region may become even more photogenic as it turns toward Earth in the days ahead--stay tuned!

more images: from Ng Wee Nghee of Singapore; from Howard Eskildsen of Ocala, Florida; from Pavol Rapavy of Rimavska Sobota, Slovakia; from Peter Paice of Belfast, Northern Ireland; from Maxim Usatov of Dniepropetrovsk, Ukraine.

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 August 23, 2007 there were 878 potentially hazardous asteroids.
July 2007 Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
2007 FV42
July 2
53 LD
1.2 km
2007 MB4
July 4
7.6 LD
130 m
2007 DT103
July 29
9.3 LD
550 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 Environment 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...
©2007, -- This site is penned daily by Dr. Tony Phillips.
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