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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Current conditions
Solar wind
speed: 353.3 km/sec
density: 4.0 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2245 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A0
2245 UT Aug04
24-hr: A0
2245 UT Aug04
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2245 UT
Daily Sun: 04 Aug 07
New sunspot 966 poses no threat for solar flares. Credit: SOHO/MDI
Sunspot number: 11
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 01 Aug 2007
Far side of the Sun:
This holographic image reveals a possible sunspot 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 Aug 04 2127 UT
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 1.0 nT
Bz: 0.4 nT north
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2246 UT
Coronal Holes:
A solar wind stream flowing from the indicated coronal hole should reach Earth on or about August 6th. Credit: SOHO Extreme Ultraviolet Telescope
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2007 Aug 04 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 04 2203 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
10 %
15 %
05 %
10 %
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
10 %
25 %
05 %
15 %
01 %
05 %
What's up in Space
August 4, 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.

DREAMY LUNAR ECLIPSE: Mark your calendar: On Tuesday, August 28th, there's going to be a dreamy, colorful, total eclipse of the Moon: full story.

PHOENIX LAUNCH: Phoenix has left Earth. The robotic Mars lander began its 9 month journey to the Red Planet this morning when a Delta II rocket blasted off from Cape Canaveral at 5:26 am EDT. Signals received by the Deep Space Network indicate the craft is on course and in good condition: status reports.

The pre-dawn launch wow-ed onlookers, but it wasn't only the rocket that impressed. The Delta II's exhaust put on a show of its own:

James Bjornbak snapped this photo from the Kennedy Space Center. "I used my Nikon D70 to make a 10-second exposure," he says.

The glowing loop is, essentially, a man-made noctilucent cloud (NLC). Tiny crystals of ice and other particles in the rocket's exhaust caught the rays of the early morning sun and lit up dramatically against the deep-twilight sky. more images: from William Wilson of Titusville, Florida; from Jerry W. Kinnamon of Zephyrhills, Florida.

A similar display was seen in June when space shuttle Atlantis lifted off before sunrise to visit the International Space Station. While the formation of these man-made clouds is understood, the origin of natural NLCs, which can gather over high latitudes without any rocket to prompt them, remains a mystery. NASA's AIM spacecraft is in orbit now to investigate.

BEWARE THE MARS HOAX: It's August, which means it's time for the annual Mars Hoax. An email is going around claiming that Mars will approach Earth on August 27th; the encounter will be so close, the email states, that Mars will rival the full Moon in size and brightness. Imagine the tides!

The Mars Hoax email first appeared in 2003. On August 27th of that year, Mars really did come historically close to Earth. But the email's claim that Mars would rival the Moon was grossly exaggerated. Every August since 2003, the email has staged a revival. It's as wrong now as it was then.

REALITY CHECK: Would you like to see the real Mars? Wake up before dawn and look east. Mars is having a close encounter with the Pleiades star cluster. Sky maps: Aug. 5, 6, 7. The planet looks like a pinprick-bright red star, nothing like a full Moon, very pretty next to the Pleiades. Pete Lawrence of Selsey UK photographed the scene on August 3rd.

.2007 Noctilucent Cloud Gallery
[Night-Sky Cameras] ["Noctilucent Cloud"--the song]

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 4, 2007 there were 876 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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