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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Current conditions
Solar wind
speed: 406.0 km/sec
density: 2.2 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2345 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A8
2010 UT Mar28
24-hr: B3
0335 UT Mar28
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2340 UT
Daily Sun: 28 Mar. 10
Sunspot 1057 is crackling with minor C-class solar flares. Credit: SOHO/MDI
Sunspot number: 30
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 27 Mar 2010

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 0 days
2010 total: 6 days (7%)
2009 total: 260 days (71%)
Since 2004: 776 days
Typical Solar Min: 485 days
explanation | more info
Updated 27 Mar 2010

The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 88 sfu
explanation | more data
Updated 27 Mar 2010

Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
Planetary K-index
Now: Kp= 1 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 3
explanation | more data
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 5.0 nT
Bz: 0.3 nT north
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2346 UT
Coronal Holes:
There are no large coronal holes on the Earth-facing side of the sun. Credit: SOHO Extreme UV Telescope
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2010 Mar 28 2201 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
20 %
20 %
05 %
05 %
Geomagnetic Storms:
Probabilities for significant disturbances in Earth's magnetic field are given for three activity levels: active, minor storm, severe storm
Updated at: 2010 Mar 28 2201 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
20 %
25 %
05 %
10 %
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
30 %
40 %
10 %
15 %
01 %
01 %
What's up in Space
March 28, 2010

NEW AND IMPROVED: Turn your iPhone or iPod Touch into a field-tested global satellite tracker. The Satellite Flybys app now works in all countries.


DIRECTIONS TO SATURN: Go to the Moon and turn left. Tonight the bright Moon rises in the east in the same patch of sky as Saturn. That means you can use the Moon to find the ringed planet. Backyard telescopes give a great view of Saturn's nearly edge-on rings. Take a look! [sky map]

SUNSPOT MOVIE: Sunspot 1057 is crackling with C-class solar flares. Yesterday, amateur astronomer Michael Buxton of Ocean Beach, California, saw one with his own eyes. "I was trying out a new solar filter on my 4-inch refracting telescope," he says. "My girlfriend and I watched in amazement as magnetic filaments whipped around the sunspot and triggered an eruption." Click on the image to see the flare in action:

Photo details: Lunt 75mm H-alpha filter, 0.55 Angstroms, Takahashi TSA102

"I made the movie from a sequence of 1-minute images taken between 1755 and 1845 on March 27th," says Buxton. "What a great day to test our new system."

Today could be good, too. C-flares are continuing at a rate of one every 3-to-6 hours, and NOAA forecasters estimate a 20% chance of even stronger M-flares. Readers with solar telescopes are encouraged to monitor developments.

more images: from Cyrille Baudouin of Foussais-Payré, France; from Michael Rosolina of Friars Hill, WV; from Alan Friedman of Buffalo, NY; from Steve Riegel of Santa Maria, CA; from Mike Borman of Evansville, Indiana; from Andreas Murner of Rosenheim Bavaria, Germany; from Peter Paice of Belfast, Northern Ireland; from Ari Koutsouradis of Westminster, MD

LOW-FLYING METEOR: On March 19th at 11:19 Central Time, a meteoroid entered Earth's atmosphere over the southeastern United States and disintegrated in a flash as bright as the crescent Moon. To the human eye, it appeared to be a garden-variety fireball, the kind that appears almost every clear night, but NASA cameras had a different story to tell. Scroll past the fireball snapshot for details.

"This was an unusually low-flying meteor," says Bill Cooke of NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office. Cooke and colleagues operate a pair of all-sky cameras, one in Huntsville, Alabama, and another in Chickamauga, Georgia. Both cameras caught the fireball, allowing rapid triangulation of its flight path. "It was first recorded at an altitude of 72.9 km (45.3 miles) and burned up at an altitude of 32.5 km (20.2 miles)."

That's low. Most meteoroids disintegrate around 70 to 80 km high. This one held together for a much deeper descent. "It had a lot of structural integrity. Maybe it was a metallic object," speculates Cooke. "Based on the brightness and velocity of the fireball, I estimate a mass of about 10 kilograms and a diameter of ~20 centimeters - a decent size!"

Cooke's meteor mini-network is "smart." When both cameras catch a fireball, the system's software springs into action and immediately calculates a flight path and orbit for the meteoroid. Cooke receives an email alerting him to interesting events that might otherwise have gone unnoticed. "In the near future, we plan to expand our network along the eastern seaboard of the United States," notes Cooke. "With smart cameras on duty, who knows what we might find?"

March Northern Lights Gallery
[previous Marches: 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004, 2003]

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 28, 2010 there were 1110 potentially hazardous asteroids.
March 2010 Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
2001 PT9
March 3
11.1 LD
305 m
4486 Mithra
March 12
73.5 LD
3.3 km
2001 FM129
March 13
44.1 LD
1.5 km
2010 FU9
March 18
1.5 LD
19 m
2010 EF43
March 18
5.0 LD
23 m
2010 FT
March 27
5.5 LD
33 m
2002 TE66
March 28
48.0 LD
940 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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