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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Solar wind
speed: 307.4 km/sec
density: 1.5 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2345 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: B7
2134 UT Feb27
24-hr: C4
0355 UT Feb27
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2300 UT
Daily Sun: 27 Feb 11
Sunspot complex 1163-1164 has a complex "beta-gamma" magnetic field that harbors energy for M-class solar flares. Credit: SDO/HMI
Sunspot number: 49
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 26 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 26 Feb 2011

The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 90 sfu
explanation | more data
Updated 26 Feb 2011

Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
Planetary K-index
Now: Kp= 0 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 1
explanation | more data
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 3.5 nT
Bz: 3.1 nT north
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2346 UT
Coronal Holes: 27 Feb 11
A solar wind stream flowing from the indicated coronal hole should reach Earth around March 3rd. Credit: SDO/AIA.
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2011 Feb 27 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 27 2200 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
05 %
20 %
01 %
10 %
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
15 %
25 %
01 %
10 %
01 %
01 %
Sunday, Feb. 27, 2011
What's up in space

They came from outer space--and you can have one! Genuine meteorites are now on sale in the Space Weather Store. They make a unique Valentine's gift.

Own your own meteorite

SATURDAY NIGHT SOLAR SAIL: NanoSail-D really is glinting in the sunlight. NASA scientist Dean Alhorn, the solar sail's principal investigator, sends this report from Huntsville, Alabama: "Last night, Feb. 26th, I saw it flash 3 or 4 times! I was following the sail's expected path with my eyes when I saw a flash in the sky above the tree line. A couple of minutes later I saw a second flash higher in the sky. A third and maybe a fourth were seen as NanoSail-D disappeared to the southwest. The flashes were brighter than anything in the sky." Alhorn's Saturday-night experience was repeated by other observers; click on the links for anecdotes and photos: #1, #2, #3, #4.

DISCOVERY DOCKED: Space shuttle Discovery docked to the International Space Station on Saturday, Feb. 26, 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. In Gloucestershie, England, amateur astronomer Rob Bullen trained his 8-inch telescope on the pair, and this is what he saw:

"After a very cloudy day, the skies cleared to reveal this stunning pass of the ISS and Discovery," says Bullen. "I could not believe the timing was so fortuitous to show the shuttle closing in on the station."

Another opportunity to see the spaceships arranged thus will come in 7 days when Discovery undocks from the ISS. Until then, click on the links for more double shots: 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

WINTER HALOES: On Saturday morning, Feb. 26th, the sky above Logan, Utah, erupted in a network of luminous arcs and rings. This photo taken by Lyle Johnson shows just a fraction of the display:

"In addition to a halo surrounding the sun, there were bright sundogs to the left and right, and a giant white ring parallel to the horizon," says Johnson. "[Most beautiful of all] was a colorful bow directly overhead."

These are all ice haloes. Sunlight shining through hexagonal crystals, some short and squat like plates and others long and thin like pencils, produced the luminous shapes. The crystals must have been scattered around the whole sky to account for such a display. Sounds like winter....

BONUS: "Look closely at Lyle Johnson's halo display and you will see two very rare halos," urges atmospheric optics expert Les Cowley. "They branch upwards from each sundog just outside the circular 22 degree halo. These are 'middle Lowitz arcs' rarely seen and probably made by elongated non regular hexagonal plate crystals. This image shows one of them. When the 'ordinary' halos are as bright as they appeared here it is always worthwhile to scour the sky for rare ones!"

more images: from Douglas J. Ede of Logan, Utah, USA

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 27, 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 DT9
Feb 27
9 LD
40 m
2011 DE5
Mar 1
4.9 LD
22 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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