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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Current conditions
Solar wind
speed: 388.1 km/sec
density: 1.2 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2345 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A0
2340 UT Mar01
24-hr: A0
2340 UT Mar01
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2340 UT
Daily Sun: 01 Mar 09
The sun is blank--no sunspots. Credit: SOHO/MDI
Sunspot number: 0
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 28 Feb. 2009
Far side of the Sun:
This holographic image reveals no sunspots on the far side of the sun. Image credit: SOHO/MDI
Planetary K-index
Now: Kp= 1 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 1
explanation | more data
Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
What is the auroral oval?
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 3.2 nT
Bz: 2.5 nT north
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2345 UT
Coronal Holes:
A minor solar wind stream flowing from the indicated coronal hole could reach Earth on or about March 3rd. Credit: SOHO Extreme UV Telescope
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2009 Mar 01 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 01 2201 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
05 %
10 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
10 %
15 %
01 %
05 %
01 %
01 %
What's up in Space
March 1, 2009

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


ASTEROID FLYBY: Newly-discovered asteroid 2009 DD45 is about to fly past Earth only 73,000 km away (0.2 LD). The space rock is about 35 meters in diameter, similar in size to the Tunguska impactor of 1908. At closest approach on March 2nd, around 1400 UT (6 a.m. PST), 2009 DD45 will speed through the constellation Virgo shining as brightly as an 11th magnitude star. Experienced amateur astronomers can track the asteroid using this ephemeris.

SATELLITE DEBRIS: The Feb 10th collision of Kosmos 2251 and Iridium 33 over northern Siberia had an uneven effect on the two satellites. Both were shattered, but Kosmos was broken into twice as many trackable pieces as Iridium, and the Kosmos pieces were scattered into a significantly wider band of orbits:

This debris map, created by Daniel Deak of Canada, traces the orbits of 129 Iridium and 275 Kosmos fragments. A side-view of the Kosmos data illustrates the degree to which the Russian satellite is "polluting" the near-Earth environment. "Kosmos fragments range in altitude from 227 km to 1690 km," notes Deak. For comparison, "the Iridiuim fragments are more tightly confined between 525 km and 1265 km."

NASA is reportedly concerned about the risks these debris streams pose to the space shuttle Atlantis when it visits the Hubble Space Telescope for servicing in mid-May 2009. The agency is evaluating the situation; click here for status reports.

Updated debris maps: #1, #2, #3, #4, #5

BLUE STAR, GREEN COMET: Yesterday, Feb. 28th, Comet Lulin executed a beautiful flyby of the first-magnitude star Regulus in Leo. The color difference between the blue star and the green comet was striking in this photo taken by Alessandro Dimai of Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy:

"The comet gliding by Regulus was a wonderful sight," he says.

The color of Regulus is a sign of heat: Regulus is a young, massive star that burns fiercely blue-hot. The color of Comet Lulin is a sign of cold: The comet's atmosphere contains cyanogen (CN, a poisonous gas) and diatomic carbon (C2)--two substances that glow green when exposed to sunlight in the cold vacuum of space. Browse the gallery for the latest color photos:

Comet Lulin Photo Gallery
[Comet Hunter Telescope] [Sky maps: March 1, 2]

February 2009 Aurora Gallery
[Previous Februaries: 2008, 2007, 2006, 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 1, 2009 there were 1033 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 CC2
Feb. 2
0.5 LD
12 m
2009 BW2
Feb. 5
8.4 LD
40 m
2009 CP
Feb. 8
7.7 LD
20 m
2009 BE58
Feb. 10
8.6 LD
225 m
2006 AS2
Feb. 10
9.2 LD
370 m
2009 BL58
Feb. 11
4.8 LD
55 m
1999 AQ10
Feb. 18
4.4 LD
390 m
2009 CV
Feb. 23
4.8 LD
62 m
2009 DU10
Feb. 24
2.3 LD
18 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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