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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Current conditions
Solar wind
speed: 438.2 km/sec
density: 0.6 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2345 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A0
2340 UT Mar15
24-hr: A0
2340 UT Mar15
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2340 UT
Daily Sun: 15 Mar 09
The sun is blank, but maybe not for long. Two proto-sunspots are simmering near the sun's equator. Their locations are shown in this magnetogram. Credit: SOHO/MDI

more images: from Matthias Juergens of Gnevsdorf, Germany; from Pete Lawrence of Selsey, West Sussex, UK
Sunspot number: 0
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 13 Mar. 2009
Far side of the Sun:
This holographic image reveals one possible high-latitude sunspot on the far side of the sun. Image credit: SOHO/MDI
Planetary K-index
Now: Kp= 0 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 3
explanation | more data
Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
What is the auroral oval?
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 3.4 nT
Bz: 0.2 nT north
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2346 UT
Coronal Holes:
A solar wind stream flowing from the indicated coronal hole should reach Earth on March 19th or 20th. Credit: SOHO Extreme UV Telescope
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2009 Mar 15 2201 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: 2009 Mar 15 2201 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
05 %
05 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
10 %
10 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
What's up in Space
March 15, 2009

AURORA ALERT: Did you sleep through the Northern Lights? Next time get a wake-up call: Spaceweather PHONE.


LIFTOFF! Space shuttle Discovery has just left Earth in a spectacular twilight launch from Kennedy Space Center. Check the launch blog for updates.

FAREWELL COMET LULIN: Almost three weeks after its close encounter with Earth, Comet Lulin is returning to the cold and inky depths of the outer solar system. "The comet is fading rapidly," says John Nassr who sends this picture taken March 14th from his backyard observatory in the Philippines:

The head of the comet is now about as bright as a 7th or 8th magnitude star--invisible to the naked eye and a good target for experienced astrophotographers only. Take a long look at these parting shots. They could be the last ones you see. Comet Lulin is on a hyperbolic trajectory out of the solar system, crossing the orbit of Mars on March 29th, transiting the asteroid belt between April and August 2009, and passing Jupiter in early 2010. Farewell Comet Lulin, and thanks for the memories!

UPDATED: Comet Lulin Photo Gallery
[Comet Hunter Telescope: review] [Comet Lulin finder chart]

SKI HALOS: Friday the 13th was a lucky day at the Killington ski resort in Vermont. A bank of icy clouds drifted directly in front of the sun, producing a sun halo of such intense beauty, it stopped skiers in their tracks:

"I was simply astounded!" says photographer Steven Benatar. "The amazing halo lasted for about 45 minutes. Thankfully I had my handy Canon SD780 to snap some quick pics as evidence."

Benatar says he's seen pictures of sun halos before on the internet, but "they are much better in person!"

more images: from Alex Conu of Clinceni, Romania; from Jim Saueressig of Emporia, Kansas; from Lois Reinert of Tracy, Minnesota

March 2009 Aurora Gallery
[previous Marches: 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002]

Explore the Sunspot Cycle

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 15, 2009 there were 1041 potentially hazardous asteroids.
March 2009 Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
2009 DS43
Mar. 1
6.9 LD
32 m
2009 DD45
Mar. 2
0.2 LD
35 m
2009 DN4
Mar. 3
8.1 LD
27 m
2009 EA
Mar. 4
7.4 LD
24 m
2009 EW
Mar. 6
0.9 LD
23 m
161989 Cacus
Mar. 7
70.5 LD
1.7 km
2009 EH1
Mar. 8
1.6 LD
12 m
2009 ET
Mar. 9
9.5 LD
15 m
2009 DV43
Mar. 10
8.5 LD
80 m
2009 EU
Mar. 11
3.5 LD
21 m
1998 OR2
Mar. 12
69.8 LD
3.3 km
2009 DR3
Mar. 14
7.2 LD
225 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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