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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Current conditions
Solar wind
speed: 501.2 km/sec
density: 3.6 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2244 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A0
2245 UT May29
24-hr: A0
1250 UT May29
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2245 UT
Daily Sun: 29 May 08
The sun is blank--no sunspots. Credit: SOHO/MDI
Sunspot number: 0
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 28 May 2008
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= 2 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: 3.1 nT
Bz: 1.4 nT south
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2246 UT
Coronal Holes:
Earth is now entering a solar wind stream flowing from the indicated coronal hole. Credit: SOHO Extreme UV Telescope
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2008 May 29 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 May 29 2203 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
15 %
15 %
05 %
05 %
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
30 %
25 %
10 %
05 %
05 %
05 %
What's up in Space
May 29, 2008
FLYBY ALERT! Space shuttle Discovery launches on May 31st. Get your flyby alerts from Space Weather PHONE  

CARTWHEEL CME: Imagine a billion-ton cloud of gas launching itself off the surface of the sun and then ... doing a cartwheel. That's exactly what happened on April 9, 2008, when a coronal mass ejection or "CME" pirouetted over the sun's limb in full view of an international fleet of spacecraft. The cartwheel set off a chain of events that amazed even veteran solar physicists: full story.

CARTWHEEL #2: On May 22nd, NASA's STEREO-A spacecraft photographed another cartwheel CME even more dramatic than the one on April 9th. The movie is a must-see.

LOOK OUT BELOW! In the 50+ year history of the Space Age, no spacecraft from Earth has ever photographed another spacecraft landing on an alien planet--until last Sunday. High above Mars, the powerful HiRISE camera onboard NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter watched Phoenix parachuting safely to its landing site in the martian arctic:

Click to view the full panorama

Although Phoenix seems to be descending into a 10-km-wide crater named Heimdall, "that is just an optical illusion," says Alfred McEwen, HiRISE principal investigator at the University of Arizona. In fact, "the lander is 20 km in front of the crater" and in no danger of tumbling down its rocky slopes. After this photo was taken, Phoenix drifted on by and landed in a rock-free field of icy polygons--just where mission planners wanted it to go. [more photos]

LISTEN TO PHOENIX DESCEND: As Phoenix descended, the European Space Agency's Mars Express orbiter monitored the lander's radio transmissions. The eerie-sounding tones have just been beamed back to Earth and you can listen to them here.

TRICKY MOON SHADOWS: Amateur astronomer Mike Salway of Central Coast, Australia, woke up before dawn on May 25th to photograph Jupiter. The giant planet materialized in the eyepiece of his 12-inch telescope along with giant moon Ganymede and a deep, dark moon shadow just behind it on Jupiter's cloudtops. Contrary to appearances, however, the shadow did not come from Ganymede. Scroll down to find the source.

Salway's panoramic photo reveals the responsible moon: Europa.

"As Ganymede was transiting Jupiter, Europa cast a shadow apparently nearby. Meanwhile, off to the right, Io was about to be eclipsed by the much larger shadow of Jupiter itself," he says. So many moons, so many shadows! It can get a little tricky, "especially at 5 o'clock in the morning."

Yet 5 o'clock in the morning is the best time to see Jupiter. Train your telescope on the brilliant "morning star" in the constellation Sagittarius and see if you can sort things out: sky map.

May 2008 Aurora Gallery
[Aurora Alerts] [Night-sky Cameras]

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 May 29, 2008 there were 953 potentially hazardous asteroids.
May 2008 Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
2008 HG
May 5
17 LD
90 m
2008 DE
May 9
17 LD
550 m
2008 HD2
May 9
6.5 LD
40 m
2008 JL24
May 10
0.4 LD
5 m
2008 HR3
May 11
3.1 LD
50 m
2008 HW1
May 14
72 LD
1.4 km
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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