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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Solar wind
speed: 428.6 km/sec
density: 0.1 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2346 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: B2
1710 UT Feb28
24-hr: B6
0807 UT Feb28
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2300 UT
Daily Sun: 28 Feb 12
These sunspots pose no threat for strong flares. Credit: SDO/HMI
Sunspot number: 45
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 27 Feb 2012

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 0 days
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

Updated 27 Feb 2012

The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 106 sfu
explanation | more data
Updated 27 Feb 2012

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: 6.5 nT
Bz: 2.5 nT south
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2347 UT
Coronal Holes: 28 Feb 12
There are no large coronal holes on the Earthside of the sun. Credit: SDO/AIA.
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2012 Feb 28 2200 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: 2012 Feb 28 2200 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
05 %
05 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
15 %
15 %
10 %
10 %
05 %
05 %
Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2012
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

MARS AT OPPOSITION: Mars is approaching opposition. On March 3-5, the Red Planet will be up all night long, opposite the sun and as close to Earth as it will get in 2012. Mars shines overhead at midnight 6 times brighter than a 1st magnitude star and looks great through a backyard telescope. [sky map] [photos: #0, #1, #2, #3, #4]

AURORA OUTBURST: Last night, for the second night in a row, sky watchers around the Arctic Circle witnessed an impressive display of auroras. "I've never seen anything close to this," says Aaro Kukkohovi, who photographed an eruption of light over Lumijoki, Finland:

"What a fantastic burst of energy--like something blew a hole into Earth's magnetic field just above us!"

HIs rhetorical flourish isn't far wrong. The cause of the display was the interplanetary magnetic field (IMF) tipping south and opening a 'crack' in Earth's magnetosphere. Solar wind poured in and fueled a G1-class geomagnetic storm. This was a high latitude event; the lights were brightest over Scandinavia, Iceland and Greenland.

more images: from Andrei Penescu of Kangerlussuaq, Greenland; from Heikki Mastokangas of Finland, Lestijärvi; from Andy Keen of Inari Municipality, Lapland, Finland; from Jan Pawlowski of Jyvaeskylae, Finland; from Tom Eklund of Valkeakoski, Finland; from B.Art Braafhart of Salla, Finnish-Lapland; from Ole C. Salomonsen of Muonio, Finland; from Aleksander Chernucho of Kola peninsula, Russia, Mt. Khibiny; from Riku Valtasaari of Tampere, Finland; from Joni Niemelä of Western Finland

February 2012 Aurora Gallery
[previous Februaries: 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2004, 2003, 2002]

AFTER-IMAGES: The planetary conjunction of Feb. 26-27 is over now, but photographers are still processing and submitting their images. For sky watchers who missed the show, here is one last round of images, beginning with a video from an abandoned ski run in northern Nebraska:

"The combination of planets with pale moon light, deep twilight colors, and the motion blur of clouds during a long exposure was enthralling," says photographer Chris Allington.

As the three-way meeting of Jupiter, Venus and the Moon breaks up, attention turns to the other side of the sky where Mars is approaching Earth for a close encounter on March 3-5. "Turn your back on the dazzling duo of Jupiter and Venus and you can see the third bright planet of the season rising in the east -- Mars!" says astronomy professor Jimmy Westlake of Stagecoach, Colorado. He took this picture of the red planet on Feb. 27th.

more images: from Constantine Emmanouilidi in the Pieria mountains of Greece; from Darryl Reid at The Hoodoos in the Canadian Badlands; from Ronald Mochinski of Warrenton, Virginia; from Sue Stefanowicz of Dixon, IL; from James W. Young of Ecola State Park, Oregon; from Mike Holloway of Van Buren, AR; from Kamila Mazurkiewicz of Puławy, Poland; from Petr Horálek of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic; from Jun Lao of Mason, Ohio; from Marek Nikodem of Szubin, Poland;

  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 28, 2012 there were 1287 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Recent & Upcoming Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
2012 DX13
Feb 25
4.9 LD
70 m
2012 CS46
Feb 25
2.7 LD
12 m
2012 DS32
Mar 1
1.9 LD
24 m
2012 DN31
Mar 1
8 LD
80 m
2012 DR32
Mar 2
8.7 LD
51 m
2008 EJ85
Mar 6
9.1 LD
44 m
1999 RD32
Mar 14
57.9 LD
2.4 km
2011 YU62
Mar 16
73.4 LD
1.3 km
1996 SK
Apr 18
67.2 LD
1.6 km
2007 HV4
Apr 19
4.8 LD
8 m
2011 WV134
Apr 28
38.6 LD
1.8 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.
  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
  the underlying science of space weather
Trade Show Displays
  more links...
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