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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Current conditions
Solar wind
speed: 476.4 km/sec
density: 2.3 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2244 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A0
1755 UT Mar19
24-hr: A0
1155 UT Mar19
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2245 UT
Daily Sun: 19 Mar 08
The sun is blank--no sunspots. Credit: SOHO/MDI
Sunspot number: 0
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 19 Mar 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= 1 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: 4.3 nT
Bz: 1.4 nT south
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2246 UT
Coronal Holes:
There are no well-defined coronal holes on the Earth-facing side of the sun. Credit:SOHO Extreme UV Telescope
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2008 Mar 19 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 Mar 19 2203 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
05 %
05 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
05 %
05 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
What's up in Space
March 19, 2008
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.   mySKY

VANISHING RINGS: Amateur astronomers around the world have noticed, something is happening to Saturn. The planet's rings are rapidly narrowing and, if this continues, before long they'll be a wafer-thin line almost invisible to backyard telescopes. Get the full story from Science@NASA.

ARTHUR C. CLARKE: Sir Arthur C. Clarke has died in Sri Lanka at the age of 90. Clarke penned many classic science fiction novels such as 2001: A Space Odyssey, Childhood's End, A Fall of Moondust, Rendezvous with Rama and more than 80 others. But he was not limited to fiction. Clarke is widely credited for conceptualizing geosynchronous orbits (sometimes called Clarke orbits) and communication satellites, and he posited Clarke's Law: "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic."

Above: Dr. Tony Phillips' childhood copy of A Fall of Moondust.

His work was an inspiration to countless young writers and scientists of the middle to late 20th century. "Although his personal odyssey here on Earth is now over, his vision lives on through his writing," says Alan Stern, associate administrator of NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington DC. "He will be sorely missed."

PHOTO TRIBUTE: "I join with all who mourn the loss of the incomparable Arthur C. Clarke," says space photographer Doug Zubenel. "When I saw the film 2001 in the spring of 1969, it left an indelible impression upon me. This photo entitled Spacegate, which I took on March 2, 1994, at Monument Rocks National Natural Landmark in Kansas, was heavily influenced by the imagery near the end of that mind-expanding movie."

Obituaries: BBC, LA Times, Associated Press, CNN.

THREE RED SPOTS: How many red spots does Jupiter have? On March 17th, Mike Salway of Australia looked through his 12-inch telescope and counted three:

Red spot #1 is the Great Red Spot you've heard about, hundreds of years old and twice as wide as Earth. Red spot #2 is Oval BA, which formed white in 2000 and turned red in 2006. Red spot #3 is a newcomer, "the Little Red Spot," says Salway, possibly only weeks old.

All these spots are storms--anticyclones big enough to swallow a rocky planet. What makes them red? Curiously, no one knows why the Great Red Spot itself is red. A favorite idea is that the storm dredges "chromophores" (color-changing compounds) from deep inside Jupiter up to the cloudtops where sunlight triggers a chemical reaction with red by-products. But what are the chromosphores and what is the chemical reaction? It's a mystery--now multiplied by three.

Jupiter is emerging from the glare of the sun as a bright morning star, visible in the southeast before sunrise: sky map. "I'm still waiting for some 'excellent' morning to deliver the best resolution and detail," says Salway, "but as Jupiter keeps climbing I'm sure it will come soon." Stay tuned!

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 March 19, 2008 there were 943 potentially hazardous asteroids.
March 2008 Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
2008 DH5
Mar. 5
7.1 LD
60 m
2008 EZ7
Mar. 9
0.4 LD
18 m
2008 ED8
Mar. 10
1.4 LD
64 m
2008 EF32
Mar. 10
0.2 LD
6 m
2008 EM68
Mar. 10
0.6 LD
12 m
1620 Geographos
Mar. 17
49 LD
3 km
2003 FY6
Mar. 21
6.3 LD
145 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...
©2008, -- This site is penned daily by Dr. Tony Phillips.
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