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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Current conditions
Solar wind
speed: 479.1 km/sec
density: 0.6 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2345 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: C2
1825 UT Mar12
24-hr: C2
1825 UT Mar12
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2340 UT
Daily Sun: 12 Mar. 10
Sunspot 1054 is growing rapidly and poses a threat for C-class solar flares. Credit: SOHO
Sunspot number: 31
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 11 Mar 2010

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 0 days
2010 total: 6 days (9%)
2009 total: 260 days (71%)
Since 2004: 776 days
Typical Solar Min: 485 days
explanation | more info
Updated 11 Mar 2010

The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 84 sfu
explanation | more data
Updated 11 Mar 2010

Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
Planetary K-index
Now: Kp= 1 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 4
explanation | more data
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 3.7 nT
Bz: 1.5 nT south
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2346 UT
Coronal Holes:
There are no large coronal holes on the Earth-facing side of the sun. Credit: SOHO Extreme UV Telescope
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2010 Mar 12 2201 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
10 %
10 %
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: 2010 Mar 12 2201 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
30 %
25 %
05 %
05 %
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
35 %
30 %
15 %
15 %
05 %
05 %
What's up in Space
March 12, 2010

NEW AND IMPROVED: Turn your iPhone or iPod Touch into a field-tested global satellite tracker. The Satellite Flybys app now works in all countries.


CHILEAN QUAKE SHIFTS EARTH'S AXIS: Widespread press reports have noted that February's Chilean earthquake might have shortened Earth's day by a small amount. Today's story from Science@NASA explores a more significant effect---how the quake might have shifted Earth's axis.

DOOMED COMET: A newly-discovered comet is plunging toward the sun and probably will not survive. The encounter is too close to the sun for human eyes to see, but the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) is able to monitor the action using an opaque disk to block the sun's glare. UPDATED: Click on the image to launch a 17-hour time-lapse animation spanning 0042 to 1742 UT:

The doomed comet is probably a member of the Kreutz sungrazer family. Named after a 19th century German astronomer who studied them in detail, Kreutz sungrazers are fragments from the breakup of a giant comet at least 2000 years ago. Several of these fragments pass by the sun and disintegrate every day. Most are too small to see but occasionally a big fragment--like this one--attracts attention.

Keep an eye on SOHO for the latest images.

AURORAS FROM SPACE: A solar wind stream is buffeting Earth's magnetic field and stirring up geomagnetic activity around the Arctic Circle. "On March 11th," reports Paul McCrone, "the DMSP F-18 weather satellite recorded a dramatic auroral event over northern Canada."

McCrone processed the image at the US Navy's Fleet Numerical Meteorology and Oceanography Center in Monterey, California. It shows a broad swirl of Northern Lights stretching from Newfoundland across Quebec to the Hudson Bay. "I included an infrared image to show that this is really not a cloud," he says. Auroras are not strong sources of infrared radiation, but clouds are, so infrared images can be used to distinguish the two.

The solar wind continues to blow. High-latitude sky watchers should remain alert for auroras.

March Northern Lights Gallery
[previous Marches: 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004, 2003]

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 March 12, 2010 there were 1106 potentially hazardous asteroids.
March 2010 Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
2001 PT9
March 3
11.1 LD
305 m
4486 Mithra
March 12
73.5 LD
3.3 km
2001 FM129
March 13
44.1 LD
1.5 km
2002 TE66
March 28
48.0 LD
940 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 space weather bureau
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.
  3D views of the sun from NASA's Solar and Terrestrial Relations Observatory
Daily Sunspot Summaries
  from the NOAA Space Environment Center
Current Solar Images
  from the National Solar Data Analysis Center
Science Central
  more links...
©2008, -- This site is penned daily by Dr. Tony Phillips.













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