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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Current conditions
Solar wind
speed: 621.3 km/sec
density: 2.4 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2246 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A0
2200 UT Mar14
24-hr: A0
2200 UT Mar14
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2245 UT
Daily Sun: 13 Mar 08
The sun is blank--no sunspots. Credit: SOHO/MDI
Sunspot number: 0
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 14 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= 3 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 4
explanation | more data
Current Auroral Oval:

Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
What is the auroral oval?
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 4.2 nT
Bz: 3.6 nT north
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 14 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 14 2203 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
10 %
30 %
05 %
05 %
01 %
05 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
10 %
40 %
05 %
10 %
01 %
05 %

What's up in Space
March 14, 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

AFTER SUNSET: Looking for Mars? It's right beside the Moon. When the sun goes down tonight, look south to behold a lovely gathering of Luna and the Red Planet: sky map.

HAPPY PI DAY: March 14th (3.14) is day and all around the world mathematicians are celebrating this compelling and mysterious constant of Nature. Pi appears in equations describing the orbits of planets, the colors of auroras, the structure of DNA. It's everywhere.

Humans have been struggling to calculate for thousands of years. Divide the circumference of a circle by its diameter; the ratio is . Sounds simple, but the devil is in the digits. While the value of is finite (a smidgen more than 3), the decimal number is infinitely long:


Supercomputers have succeeded in calculating more than 200 billion digits and they're still crunching. The weirdest way to compute : throw needles at a table or frozen hot dogs on the floor. Party time!

ASTEROID GEOGRAPHOS: Massive asteroid 1620 Geographos is approaching Earth. There's no danger of a collision; at closest approach on March 17th, the oblong 5 x 2 km-wide space rock will be almost 12 million miles away. Even at that distance, however, it is a bright and easy target for mid-sized backyard telescopes:

Photo details: Takahashi Mewlon 180, ST7E CCD, 1h17m duration

Amateur astronomer Dennis Simmons of Brisbane, Australia, made the movie last night, March 13th. "It clearly shows 1620 Geographos silently flitting between the fixed stars, whilst most people were safe in their beds, blissfully oblivious to the celestial drama being played out as they slept the night away," he says. "Thin, high clouds affected some of the frames, contributing to the dimming of some fainter stars which shows as a blinking effect."

In the nights ahead, observers in both hemispheres can see Geographos as it glides by the constellation Orion glowing like a 13th magnitude star. Point your telescope at these coordinates.

SUN HALO: "March 11th was the first real spring-like day here in Nebraska and it brought some optics with it," reports photographer Mike Hollingshead. "This was the brightest sun halo I have ever seen."

Sun halos are caused by ice in the air. Tiny crystals floating 5 to 10 km high catch the rays of the sun and bend them into a variety of luminous rings and arcs.

"I would never expect to see such a halo with temperatures in the 60s," says Hollingshead, "but it just jumped out at you." As a matter of fact, the air is always freezing cold 5 to 10 km above Earth's surface, so ice crystals can form there even at the dawn of Spring. "Add in some geese migrating on a wonderfully warm day and, well, it was more than I expected when I woke up."

more images: from Lois Reinert of Tracy, MN; from Jeff Biegert of Fort Collins, Colorado; from Aymen Ibrahem of Plateau of Giza, Egypt; from Marty Thurman of Post Falls, Idaho;

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 14, 2008 there were 944 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
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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