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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Current conditions
Solar wind
speed: 322.4 km/sec
density: 2.4 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2244 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A0
2245 UT Nov02
24-hr: A0
2245 UT Nov02
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2245 UT
Daily Sun: 02 Nov 07
The sun is blank--no sunspots. Credit: SOHO/MDI
Sunspot number: 0
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 01 Nov 2007
Far side of the Sun:
This holographic image reveals no large sunspots on the far side of the sun. Image credit: SOHO/MDI
Planetary K-index
Now: Kp= 0 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 1
explanation | more data
Current Auroral Oval:

Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
Updated: 2007 Nov 02 2055 UT
What is the auroral oval?
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 4.4 nT
Bz: 0.8 nT south
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2245 UT
Coronal Holes:
There are no coronal holes on the Earth-facing side of the sun today. Credit: SOHO Extreme UV Telescope
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2007 Nov 02 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 Nov 02 2203 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
November 2, 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.

LUNAR OCCULTATION: Tomorrow morning, Saturday, Nov. 3rd, the crescent Moon will pass directly in front of the bright star Regulus. The occultation will be visible across southern parts of the United States, Mexico and most of South America. The best time to look is around 5:00 a.m. PDT (1200 UT) when the star pops out from behind the Moon's dark limb: timetables, sky map.

INSIDE COMET HOLMES: Comet 17P/Holmes is plainly visible to the naked eye. "Its size and brightness make it a veritable urban comet," says Valentin Grigore of Targoviste, Romania. "You can see it right through city lights."

Even so, there's no substitute for dark country skies and a big telescope. "Here is the deepest shot of any comet I have ever taken, a 2-hour exposure through my 12.5-inch Newtonian reflector," says Chris Schur of Payson, Arizona:

"Clearly seen here are delicate internal rays, a bright jet, and a brilliant sunshine-yellow core," he says. "The comet's outer envelope is a stunning emerald color."

The jets and rays, reported now by a growing number of photographers, remind us of the fantastic explosion that took place on Oct. 23rd when Comet Holmes increased in brightness a million-fold in less than 24 hours. Ever since, the sunshine yellow core has been expanding--fed by jets? Or driven by the momentum of a blast that no one saw until it was over? No one knows. The underlying cause of the explosion and current events at the core remain a mystery.

And mysteries should be savored: After sunset, point your telescope at that 3rd magnitude fuzzball in the constellation Perseus. The strangest comet you've ever seen is waiting in the eyepiece.

Comet 17P/Holmes Photo Gallery
[Interactive World Map of Comet Photos]
[sky map] [ephemeris] [3D orbit] [Night Sky Cameras]

WHAT'S IN YOUR COFFEE? Take a look in your morning coffee. Is there anything in there other than joe? This week in London, Maurice Gavin found an entire rainbow. "I was staring into my black coffee--prior to adding cream!--and watching the steam rise from the surface when I noticed a subtle and constantly shifting rainbow in the grainy surface," he says. "Very pretty!"

At first glance this seems to be the oil slick effect: Sunlight striking a thin film of aromatic oil at the top of the cup creates a rainbow-like spectrum of colors. But that can't be the whole story. The oil in this cup is not spread into a simple film; instead, it seems to be organized as a large number of very small floating droplets, says Gavin.

So what makes the rainbow? "One possibility is Qu├ętelet rings," speculates atmospheric optics expert Les Cowley. "These are seen for example on dusty glass and some algae covered lakes. They work like this: Imagine a particle very close to a mirror. Light will be scattered directly from the particle. Light is also reflected by the mirror and then scattered by the particle. If the particle is small then the two scattered wavefronts interfere and you have colored fringes."

"I am not absolutely sure whether the Qu├ętelet process is the one acting here. There could be a lot of things going on in Gavin's coffee," says Cowley. "He should drink it up while it is hot!"

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 November 2, 2007 there were 896 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Nov. 2007 Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
2005 GL
Nov. 8
8.0 LD
280 m
2007 UL12
Nov. 12
18.4 LD
325 m
1989 UR
Nov. 24
27.6 LD
880 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...
©2007, -- This site is penned daily by Dr. Tony Phillips.
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