You are viewing the page for May. 31, 2008
  Select another date:
<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Current conditions
Solar wind
speed: 620.8 km/sec
density: 3.6 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2246 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A0
2245 UT May31
24-hr: A0
2245 UT May31
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2245 UT
Daily Sun: 31 May 08
The sun is blank--no sunspots. Credit: SOHO/MDI
Sunspot number: 0
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 29 May 2008
Far side of the Sun:
This holographic image reveals no 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: 4.7 nT
Bz: 4.0 nT north
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2247 UT
Coronal Holes:
A solar wind stream flowing from the indicated coronal hole will reach Earth on or about June 1st. Credit: SOHO Extreme UV Telescope
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2008 May 31 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 31 2203 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
15 %
10 %
05 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
30 %
25 %
10 %
05 %
05 %
05 %
What's up in Space
May 31, 2008
FLYBY ALERT! Space shuttle Discovery launches on May 31st. Get your flyby alerts from Space Weather PHONE  

LIFTOFF! Discovery has left the planet. The space shuttle blasted off from Cape Canaveral today at 5:02 pm EDT on a construction mission to the International Space Station. Loaded aboard was Japan's $1 billion addition for the station and a new pump for the station's finicky toilet. Three spacewalks are planned during Discovery's 14-day flight: updates.

SIGHTING: Twenty minutes after liftoff, Discovery, with its external fuel tank trailing behind, passed over Europe. Michel Vandeputte of Ronse, Belgium, photographed the pair: image. "Both were around magnitude -2," he says. "Amazing!"

ICE UNDERFOOT? NASA's Phoenix lander is on a mission to find ice in the martian arctic. Mission accomplished? Without even digging into the ground, Phoenix may have already spotted a slab of ice practically underfoot:

This contrast-enhanced image was taken on May 29th by Phoenix's Robotic Arm Camera (RAC). Mission scientists believe the exhaust from Phoenix's descent engine has blown off a layer of topsoil to reveal a portion of frozen water beneath.

On the other hand, it could be a rock. "We'll test the two possibilities by getting more data, including color data, from the robotic arm camera," says Ray Arvidson of Washington University in St. Louis, a co-investigator for Phoenix's arm. "If the hard features are ice, they should become brighter [in the days ahead] because atmospheric water vapor will collect as new frost on the ice."

Stay tuned for updates.

IN THE SHADOW OF A SPIDERWORT: Yesterday, photographer Shane Finnigan of Ottawa, Ontario, knelt down in the grass, and with the shadow of a purple spiderwort falling across his camera, he snapped this picture:

Photo details: Canon 10D, ISO 100, 16mm lens, 1/200 sec at f22

The petals of the flower blotted out the sun, revealing a delicate 22o halo. In the photo's lower right corner we see the source of the display: icy cirrus clouds. Ice crystals in high, cold clouds catch the rays of the sun and bend them as shown. Very pretty!

Says Finnigan, "the halo lasted for nearly 5 hours," which is a long time to crouch in the flowers. Fortunately, it is possible to see these common rings of light while standing up.

more images: from Doug Zubenel of Johnson Co., Kansas; from Darrell Oake of Dartmouth Nova Scotia, Canada; from Michael Boschat of Halifax, Nova Scotia; from Peter Delincak of Slovakia; from Brian Larmay of Oak Creek, Wisconsin; from Francesc Pruneda of Palamos, Girona, Spain; from Tina Olholm of Bergen, Norway; from Daniel Fernández of Oulu, Finland;

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story misidentified the spiderwort as a day lilly.

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 31, 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.
©2019 All rights reserved.