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Solar wind
speed: 304.5 km/sec
density: 5.7 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2347 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: C1
1701 UT Mar11
24-hr: C1
1655 UT Mar11
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2300 UT
Daily Sun: 11 Mar 13
None of these sunspots is actively flaring. Solar activity is low. Credit: SDO/HMI
Sunspot number: 89
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 11 Mar 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

11 Mar 2013

The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 119 sfu
explanation | more data
Updated 11 Mar 2013

Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
Planetary K-index
Now: Kp= 1 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 2
explanation | more data
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 2.1 nT
Bz: 0.6 nT north
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2347 UT
Coronal Holes: 11 Mar 13
There are no large equatorial coronal holes on the Earthside of the sun. Credit: SDO/AIA.
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2013 Mar 11 2215 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
15 %
15 %
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 Mar 11 2215 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
10 %
10 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
15 %
15 %
15 %
15 %
10 %
10 %
Monday, Mar. 11, 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

AMPLIFIED GREENHOUSE EFFECT SHIFTS GROWING SEASONS: Vegetation growth at Earth's northern latitudes increasingly resembles lusher latitudes to the south, according to a NASA-funded study. "It's like Winnipeg moving to Minneapolis-Saint Paul in only 30 years," says one of the lead researchers. [full story]

COMET PAN-STARRS UPDATE: Yesterday, March 10th, Comet Pan-STARRS (C/2011 L4) made its closest approach to the sun. Inside the orbit of Mercury, the comet was hit by solar rays ten times more intense than we experience on Earth. This sets the stage for a good show as Pan-STARRS, glowing brightly, moves into the night sky later this week. Dr. Fritz Helmut Hemmerich of Tenerife (Canary Islands) caught a hint of things to come last night when he photographed the comet setting just behind the sun:

"We went high on the Teide volcano to photograph the comet [above the roiling clouds]," says Hemmerich. "Each frame in the video is a 4 second exposure taken with a Canon 1100D digital camera set at ISO 400."

Although Comet Pan-STARRS is bright, somewhere between 1st and 2nd magnitude, most observers say they are still having trouble seeing it with the unaided eye in the bright evening twilight. A few seconds exposure with a digital camera, however, reveals it easily. Binoculars help, too.

Visibility will improve in the nights ahead as the comet moves away from the sun. Dates of special interest include March 12th and 13th when Pan-STARRS passes not far from the crescent Moon. The tight conjunction on the 12th provides a splendid opportunity for sunset photographers. Look low and west for a beautiful view. Sky maps: March 12, March 13.

More: NASA video, 3D orbit, ephemeris, light curves.

Realtime Comet Photo Gallery

STEREO-B SEES COMET PAN-STARRS: On March 10th, Comet Pan-STARRS passed by the sun just inside the orbit of Mercury. The close encounter brought it into the field of view of NASA's STEREO-B spacecraft. The sun, Earth, and comet are labeled in this low-resolution beacon image from STEREO-B's Heliospheric Imager:

Comet Pan-STARRS is so bright, it is actually saturating the pixels of the imager's digital camera. The comet's luminosity is mainly due to dust. Earth-based observations show that Pan-STARRS is dustier than an average comet. Comet dust reflects sunlight, so the fan-shaped tail of Pan-STARRS, chock full of it, is especially bright.

Low-resolution beacon images will be followed in a day or so by high-resolution movies. Stay tuned for a great view of Comet Pan-STARRS passing the sun.

Realtime Space Weather Photo Gallery

GREEN ICE: On March 9th, ice along the coast of Sortland, Norway, turned vivid green. Onlooker Frank Olsen photographed the phenomenon:

What caused this? The hint of purple in the lower left corner is an important clue. It's a reflection of auroras in the sky above. "I missed out on the biggest outbursts because I was driving my car with no place to stop," says Olsen. When he finally pulled over "it was pretty cold, at -16C degrees." Photographing the icy verge seemed like the right thing to do.

NOAA forecasters estimate a 10% chance of polar geomagnetic storms on March 10th. Those are the odds of more green ice tonight. Aurora alerts: text, voice.

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 March 11, 2013 there were potentially hazardous asteroids.
Recent & Upcoming Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
2013 EC20
Mar 9
0.4 LD
7 m
2013 ET
Mar 9
2.5 LD
102 m
2013 EN20
Mar 10
1.2 LD
7 m
2013 EA29
Mar 14
3.5 LD
22 m
2007 EO88
Mar 18
4.4 LD
23 m
1993 UC
Mar 20
49 LD
3.8 km
2013 ES11
Mar 22
6.3 LD
87 m
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
2004 BV102
May 25
69.9 LD
1.4 km
1998 QE2
May 31
15.2 LD
2.2 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
Space Weather Alerts
  more links...
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