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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Current conditions
Solar wind
speed: 320.1 km/sec
density: 1.4 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2245 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A0
2245 UT Nov03
24-hr: A0
0540 UT Nov03
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2245 UT
Daily Sun: 03 Nov 07
The sun is blank--no sunspots. Credit: SOHO/MDI
Sunspot number: 0
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 02 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
What is the auroral oval?
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 3.1 nT
Bz: 2.1 nT north
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2246 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 03 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 03 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 3, 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.

THE ONE THAT GOT AWAY: "I went out to find the big prominence observed by Pete Lawrence earlier today, but it was already gone... well, almost," reports Alan Friedman of Buffalo, New York. He photographed the last wisps of the prominence just after it erupted: image. "I used a 92mm telescope equipped with a Coronado Solarmax filter." (Prominence alert: Cancelled.)

more images: from Alcaria Rego of Almada, Portugal; from Pete Lawrence of Selsey, UK.

COMET 17P/HOLMES: Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words:

This is a composite image of exploding Comet 17P/Holmes. German astrophotographer Sebastian Voltmer combined various exposures taken through his 4.1-inch refracting telescope and processed the composite to highlight the comet's bright golden core (with jets and streamers), its gossamer green halo and an emerging faint blue tail. It's one of the strangest and most beautiful photos of a comet ... ever.

If that doesn't make you want to see Comet Holmes with your own eyes, perhaps this will: "The comet is growing fantastically," reports Thorsten Boeckel of Fuerstenfeldbruck, Bavaria, who has been monitoring the expansion: image. "By Sunday," he estimates, "it will be half as wide as a full Moon."

Comet Holmes is easy to find. After sunset, look north for an expanding fuzzball in the constellation Perseus: sky map. Point your telescope and--voila!--an exploding comet.

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 3, 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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