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SpaceWeather.com -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
 
Solar wind
speed: 334.1 km/sec
density: 2.4 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2347 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: B3
2153 UT Feb18
24-hr: C1
0241 UT Feb18
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2300 UT
Daily Sun: 18 Feb 13
New sunspot AR1675 poses a growing threat for M-class flares. Credit: SDO/HMI
Sunspot number: 74
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 18 Feb 2013

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 0 days
2013 total: 0 days (0%)
2012 total: 0 days (0%)
2011 total: 2 days (<1%)
2010 total: 51 days (14%)
2009 total: 260 days (71%)
Since 2004: 821 days
Typical Solar Min: 486 days

Update
18 Feb 2013

The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 106 sfu
explanation | more data
Updated 18 Feb 2013

Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
Credit: NOAA/POES
Planetary K-index
Now: Kp= 1 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 1
quiet
explanation | more data
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 6.8 nT
Bz: 4.9 nT north
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2347 UT
Coronal Holes: 18 Feb 13
Solar wind flowing from this sinuous coronal hole could reach Earth starting on Feb. 21st. Credit: SDO/AIA.
SPACE WEATHER
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2013 Feb 18 2200 UTC
FLARE
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
CLASS M
25 %
25 %
CLASS X
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: 2013 Feb 18 2200 UTC
Mid-latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
ACTIVE
20 %
30 %
MINOR
05 %
10 %
SEVERE
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
ACTIVE
15 %
15 %
MINOR
25 %
20 %
SEVERE
30 %
15 %
 
Monday, Feb. 18, 2013
What's up in space
 

Metallic photos of the sun by renowned photographer Greg Piepol bring together the best of art and science. Buy one or a whole set. They make a stellar gift.

 
Metallic pictures of the Sun

JUPITER AND THE MOON: When the sun goes down tonight, step outside and look south. The Moon is passing Jupiter in the constellation Taurus. It's a pretty close encounter visible even through city lights. [sky map] [photos]

COMET PAN-STARRS UPDATE: Comet Pan-STARRS (C/2011 L4), widely expected to become a naked-eye object in early March, is now closer to the sun than Venus. Solar heating is vaporizing the comet's icy core and creating a wide, fan-shaped tail visible through binoculars in the southern hemisphere. Ignacio Diaz Bobillo sends this picture from Buenos Aires, Argentina:

"I saw Comet Pan-STARRS just before daybreak in the constellation Grus," says Bobillo. "This is what it looked like through a small telescope, imaged with an exposure time of 8x2 minutes."

In early March, Comet Pan-STARRS will make its closest approach to the sun inside the orbit of Mercury; at that time it could brighten to easy naked-eye visibility. No one knows exactly what will happen, however, because it is a fresh comet being exposed to solar heating for the first time. Experts discuss the possibilities in this video from Science@NASA. More: 3D orbit, ephemeris, light curves, NASA story.

Realtime Comet Photo Gallery

M-CLASS SOLAR FLARE: Yesterday, Feb. 17th, new sunspot AR1675 unleashed the most intense flare of the year so far, an M1.9-class explosion. NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory captured a double-flash of extreme UV radiation from the explosion:

Coronagraph images from SOHO and the twin STEREO probes show that this explosion did not produce a coronal mass ejection (CME). Nevertheless, there were some Earth-effects. UV radiation from the flare produced a wave of ionization in Earth's upper atmosphere. Radio listeners in Europe and North America detected the sudden ionospheric disturbance. Solar flare alerts: text, voice.

Realtime Space Weather Photo Gallery

RUSSIAN METEOR UPDATE: On Friday, February 15th at 9:30 am local time in Russia, a small asteroid struck the atmosphere over the city of Chelyabinsk and exploded. According to reports from news organizations and Russian authorities, as many as 1000 people received minor injuries from the shock wave. This is the most energetic recorded meteor strike since the Tunguska impact of 1908.

Note: In the following paragraph, bold-faced numbers were updated on Feb. 17th to reflect new and improved estimates of the asteroid's size and energy. It was even bigger than we thought!

Researchers have conducted a preliminary analysis of the event. "Here is what we know so far," says Bill Cooke, head of NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office. "The asteroid was about 17 meters in diameter and weighed approximately 10,000 metric tons. It struck Earth's atmosphere at 40,000 mph (18 km/s) and broke apart about 12 to 15 miles (20 to 25 km) above Earth's surface. The energy of the resulting explosion was in the vicinity of 500 kilotons of TNT." (continued below)

"A shock wave propagated down and struck the city below, causing large numbers of windows to break, some walls to collapse, and minor damage throughout the city," he continued. "When you hear about injuries, those are undoubtedly due to the effects of the shock wave, not due to fragments striking the ground. There are undoubtedly fragments on the ground, but as of this time we know of no recovered fragments that we can verify."

Videos of the event may be found here and here. In many of the videos you can hear the sound of windows shattering as the meteor's loud shock wave reaches the ground. Onlookers cry out in Russian as alarms and sirens sound in the background. This pair of wide-angle gif animations is also worth watching: #1, #2.

It is natural to wonder if this event has any connection to Friday's record-setting flyby of asteroid 2012 DA14. Paul Chodas of the Near Earth Object Program at JPL says no. "The Russian fireball is not related to 2012 DA14 in any way. It's an incredible coincidence that we have had these two rare events in one day."

Realtime Asteroid Photo Gallery


Realtime Aurora Photo Gallery


Realtime Noctilucent Cloud Photo Gallery
[previous years: 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011]

  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 February 18, 2013 there were 1382 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Recent & Upcoming Earth-asteroid encounters:
Asteroid
Date(UT)
Miss Distance
Size
2013 BV15
Feb 13
3.7 LD
60 m
1999 YK5
Feb 15
49.1 LD
2.1 km
2012 DA14
Feb 15
0.09 LD
65 m
2013 DB
Feb 16
5 LD
29 m
2013 CE82
Feb 17
4.6 LD
50 m
2013 CW129
Feb 18
1.3 LD
12 m
2013 CZ87
Feb 19
7 LD
28 m
2009 AV
Feb 25
59.7 LD
1.0 km
2007 EO88
Mar 18
4.4 LD
23 m
1993 UC
Mar 20
49 LD
3.8 km
1997 AP10
Mar 28
45.9 LD
1.8 km
2010 GM23
Apr 13
3.9 LD
50 m
2005 NZ6
Apr 29
24.9 LD
1.3 km
2001 DQ8
Apr 30
74.3 LD
1.1 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 web 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 Dynamics Observatory
  Researchers call it a "Hubble for the sun." SDO is the most advanced solar observatory ever.
STEREO
  3D views of the sun from NASA's Solar and Terrestrial Relations Observatory
Solar and Heliospheric Observatory
  Realtime and archival images of the Sun from SOHO.
Daily Sunspot Summaries
  from the NOAA Space Environment Center
Heliophysics
  the underlying science of space weather
Space Weather Alerts
   
  more links...
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