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Solar wind
speed: 407.1 km/sec
density: 5.7 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2345 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: B2
1700 UT Mar28
24-hr: B5
0338 UT Mar28
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2300 UT
Daily Sun: 28 Mar 13
None of these sunspots is actively flaring. Solar activity is low. Credit: SDO/HMI
Sunspot number: 35
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 28 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

28 Mar 2013

The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 93 sfu
explanation | more data
Updated 28 Mar 2013

Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
Planetary K-index
Now: Kp= 2 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 4
explanation | more data
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 3.2 nT
Bz: 1.6 nT south
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2347 UT
Coronal Holes: 28 Mar 13
Solar wind flowing from the indicated coronal hole should reach Earth on March 29-30. Credit: SDO/AIA.
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2013 Mar 28 2200 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: 2013 Mar 28 2200 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
25 %
10 %
05 %
05 %
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
15 %
15 %
25 %
20 %
20 %
20 %
Thursday, Mar. 28, 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

COLLISION COURSE? A comet is heading for Mars, and there is a chance that it might hit the Red Planet in October 2014. An impact wouldn't necessarily mean the end of NASA's Mars program, but it would transform the program along with Mars itself. Get the full story and a video from Science@NASA.

FULL MOON AURORAS: A disturbance in the solar wind hit Earth's magnetic field on March 27th, igniting auroras around the poles. Glare from the full moon competed with the Northern Lights, but did not utterly vanquish them. In Salla, Finnland, B.Art Braafhart photographed patches of green above the moonlit landscape:

The display appears to have been caused by a corotating interaction region--that is, a shock-like transition zone between slow-speed and high-speed solar wind streams. Also known as "CIRs," corotating interaction regions are a leading cause of auroras during solar minimum.

Solar minimum? 2013 is supposed to be a year of maximum solar activity. Low sunspot counts and muted flares suggest otherwise. Perhaps, as some researchers argue, this is the valley in a double-peaked Solar Max. If that is true, stronger solar activity should return in late-2013/early-2014.

NOAA forecasters estimate a 60% chance of polar geomagnetic storms on March 28th as Earth's magnetic field continues to reverberate from the impact of the CIR. Aurora alerts: text, voice.

Realtime Aurora Photo Gallery

DAYLIGHT ALIGNMENT OF PLANETS: Venus, Mars and Uranus are gathering for a remarkable alignment. But don't bother looking for the conjunction; it is happening in the daylight sky within a few degrees of the glaring sun. Using an opaque disk to block the glare, coronagraphs onboard the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) are able to track the planets:

Venus and Uranus will cross paths within 1.5 degrees of the sun on March 27-28. Mars and Venus have their own very close encounter on April 6-7. Mars will be so close to the sun throughout the month of April that it will limit NASA's contact with the Mars rovers and orbiters.

According to a NASA press release, "Mars will be passing almost directly behind the sun [as seen from Earth]. The sun can easily disrupt radio transmissions between the two planets during the near-alignment. To prevent an impaired command from reaching an orbiter or rover, mission controllers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., are preparing to suspend sending any commands to spacecraft at Mars for weeks in April. Transmissions from Mars to Earth will also be reduced." Mars will be at its closest to the sun, a slim 0.4 degrees on April 17th.

The ongoing dance of the sun and planets is invisible to the human eye, but coronagraphs can see the show. Join SOHO for a ringside seat.

Realtime Space Weather Photo Gallery

TIPS FOR OBSERVING COMET PAN-STARRS: Comet Pan-STARRS is fading as it recedes from the sun. In recent nights, several experienced observers put its magnitude near +2.3, only about half as bright as last week. Time is running out for easy spotting and photography.

Below, astrophotographer John Chumack of Dayton, Ohio, offers "some tips for capturing your keepsake photo." Follow his recipe to take a picture like this:

"Find a low west-northwest horizon," he advises. "Be ready before sunset, so you can mark the horizon where the sun set as a reference to find the comet. A digital camera with manual settings is all you need to photograph Pan-STARRS. Try 1 to 30 second exposures at ISO settings ranging from 400 to 1600, about 30 to 45 minutes after sunset. The twilight fades fast, so increase your ISO and exposure time to compensate." Click here for additional details.

Using procedures similar to Chumack's, photographers have recently captured Comet Pan-STARRS over the Grand Canyon, Stonehenge, Greek monuments, Lake Superior, and many other scenic locations.

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

Realtime Comet 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 28, 2013 there were potentially hazardous asteroids.
Recent & Upcoming Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
2013 FG
Mar 24
3.8 LD
32 m
2013 FD8
Mar 27
8.4 LD
29 m
1997 AP10
Mar 28
45.9 LD
1.8 km
2013 EL89
Mar 29
4.6 LD
29 m
2013 FB8
Mar 30
4.2 LD
44 m
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
2000 FM10
Jun 5
50.3 LD
1.3 km
2002 KL3
Jun 6
66.4 LD
1.1 km
1999 WC2
Jun 12
39.2 LD
1.9 km
2006 RO36
Jun 18
70.9 LD
1.2 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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