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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Solar wind
speed: 349.3 km/sec
density: 2.6 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2344 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: B4
2050 UT Feb26
24-hr: C1
0813 UT Feb26
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2300 UT
Daily Sun: 26 Feb 11
Sunspot 1163 has a complex "beta-gamma" magnetic field that harbors energy for M-class solar flares.bCredit: SDO/HMI
Sunspot number: 31
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 25 Feb 2011

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 0 days
2011 total: 1 day (2%)
2010 total: 51 days (14%)
2009 total: 260 days (71%)
Since 2004: 820 days
Typical Solar Min: 486 days

Updated 25 Feb 2011

The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 88 sfu
explanation | more data
Updated 25 Feb 2011

Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
Planetary K-index
Now: Kp= 1 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 1
explanation | more data
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 4.1 nT
Bz: -0.0 nT
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2346 UT
Coronal Holes: 26 Feb 11
A solar wind stream flowing from the indicated coronal hole should reach Earth on March 3rd or 4th. Credit: SDO/AIA.
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2011 Feb 26 2200 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
35 %
35 %
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: 2011 Feb 26 2200 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
10 %
10 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
15 %
15 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
Saturday, Feb. 26, 2011
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

TWO SPACESHIPS AT ONCE: Space shuttle Discovery docked to the International Space Station (ISS) today at 2:15 p.m. EST, delivering humanoid Robonaut 2 to join the ISS crew. Just before docking, observers in Europe witnessed a spectacular double flyby of the converging spacecraft. Click on the links for double flyby photos: from Tamas Ladanyi of Veszprem, Hungary; from Emmanuel Marchal of London, England; from Anton Husek of Svihov, Czech Republic; from Monika Landy-Gyebnar of Veszprem, Hungary; from Rafael Schmall of Hungary, Somogy, Kaposfo

EASTERN SUNSPOTS: The northeastern limb of the sun is peppered with sunspots, photographed during the early hours of Feb. 26th by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory:

On Feb. 24th, the scatter of small spots in the foreground unleashed a spectacular M3-class solar flare: movie. How did such a puny group of spots produce such a potent explosion? The region has an complex "beta-gamma" magnetic field that harbors energy for strong flares. It's actually more likely to produce explosions than the larger yet simpler sunspot above and behind it. NOAA forecasters estimate a 50% chance of more M-flares during the next 24 hours.

more images: from Larry Alvarez of Flower Mound, Texas; from Jan Timmermans of Valkenswaard, The Netherlands; from Pavol Rapavy of Observatory Rimavska Sobota, Slovakia; from Stefano Sello of Pisa, Italy; from Steve Wainwright of Gower Peninsula South Wales; from Monika Landy-Gyebnar of Veszprem, Hungary; from Cai-Uso Wohler of Bispingen, Germany; from Rogerio Marcon of Campinas SP Brasil;

SOLAR SAIL FLARE: Last night (Feb. 23), NanoSail-D sailed over Seinäjoki, Finland, and when it did, the spacecraft's reflective fabric caught a sunbeam and flared. "I've never seen anything like it," says Juha Peräsaari who recorded the event using a Canon 400D digital camera:

Photo details: Canon EOS 400D, 20mm lens, f2.8, ISO100, 10s exposure. [more]

"NanoSail-D 'flashed' just as it passed the star Procyon," he says. "For a moment, the sail was the brighter of the two." This means NanoSail-D can flare at least to magnitude +0.3 (the brightness of Procyon), or almost twice as bright as a first magnitude star.

Even brighter flares could be in the offing. The orbit of NanoSail-D is decaying as it skims the top of Earth's atmosphere. Sunglints from the descending sail could intensify to Venus-brightness and beyond. Anyone who photographs such an event could win $500.

NanoSail-D Photo Gallery
[NASA: Solar Sail Stunner] [Photo Contest]

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

  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 26, 2011 there were 1201 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Recent & Upcoming Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
2011 CL50
Feb 19
6.2 LD
13 m
2011 DX4
Feb 20
8 LD
23 m
2003 YG118
Feb 20
67.7 LD
1.8 km
2011 DQ
Feb 26
9.7 LD
24 m
2011 DW4
Mar 3
6.9 LD
15 m
2000 PN9
Mar 10
45.5 LD
2.6 km
2002 DB4
Apr 15
62.5 LD
2.2 km
2008 UC202
Apr 27
8.9 LD
10 m
2009 UK20
May 2
8.6 LD
23 m
2008 FU6
May 5
75.5 LD
1.2 km
2003 YT1
May 5
65.3 LD
2.5 km
2002 JC
Jun 1
57.5 LD
1.6 km
2009 BD
Jun 2
0.9 LD
9 m
2002 JB9
Jun 11
71.5 LD
3.2 km
2001 VH75
Jun 12
42.2 LD
1.1 km
2004 LO2
Jun 15
9.9 LD
48 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 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
Conquest Graphics
  for out-of-this-world printing and graphics
Science Central
  more links...
©2010 All rights reserved. This site is penned daily by Dr. Tony Phillips.
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