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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Current conditions
Solar wind
speed: 368.5 km/sec
density: 13.1 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2344 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A0
2340 UT Mar04
24-hr: A0
2340 UT Mar04
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2340 UT
Daily Sun: 04 Mar 09
The sun is blank--no sunspots. Credit: SOHO/MDI

more images: from Erika Rix of Zanesville, Ohio; from Robert Arnold of Isle of Skye, Scotland
Sunspot number: 0
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 04 Mar. 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= 2 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 3
explanation | more data
Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
What is the auroral oval?
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 1.9 nT
Bz: 1.8 nT north
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2345 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: 2009 Mar 04 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 04 2201 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
10 %
05 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
15 %
10 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
What's up in Space
March 4, 2009

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


DOOMED SNOWBALL: Last week, on Feb. 23rd, the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) watched a comet plunge into the sun and disintegrate. The doomed snowball was a member of the Kreutz sungrazer family. Named after a 19th century German astronomer who studied them in detail, Kreutz sungrazers are fragments from the breakup of a giant comet some 2000 years ago. More than a thousand of these fragments have been catalogued by SOHO since the observatory was launched in 1995. Most are small and faint, but this one was a beauty. Watch the movie.

AURORA WATCH: On March 3rd at 1:49 am, Alaska time, photographer Amara Eren stood shivering in the minus 20-degree air at Chena Hot Springs outside Fairbanks. "It was bitterly cold--even without the wind," she says. But, oh, what a view:

Photo details: Nikon D3, f/4, ISO 400, 75 second exposure.

The display was caused by a minor solar wind stream buffeting Earth's magnetic field. The solar wind is expected to intensify (a little) during the next 24 hours, and NOAA forecasters estimate a 20% chance of high-latitude geomagnetic activity. Arctic sky watchers should remain alert for auroras.

March 2009 Aurora Gallery
[previous Marches: 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002]

RUSSIAN COMSAT CLOUD: "On Saturday evening, February 28th, I was observing at the Astronomical Society of Victoria dark-sky site near Heathcote, Australia," reports Michael Mattiazzo. "At 21:45 AEDT (10:45 UT) I happened to glance westwards and noticed a mysterious V-shaped glow just below Alpha Ceti. During the 5 minutes I spent aligning the telescope and setting up my camera on piggyback, it expanded considerably." He combined four images from his Canon 300D to create this 6-minute animation:

"[The object that emitted the cloud] can be seen in my animation heading in an easterly direction toward the right side of the photo. Satellite expert Tony Beresford has identified it as a new Russian military comsat launched from Baykonur on Feb 28th."

The name of the comsat is Raduga-1; it is an improved version of the Soviet-era old Gran' (Raduga) satellite first launched in 1975. Two burns were required to place Raduga-1 into geosynchronous orbit and purely by chance Mattiazzo saw one of them. It just goes to show ... you never know what you might see if you keep looking up.

Comet Lulin Photo Gallery
[Comet Hunter Telescope]

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 4, 2009 there were 1035 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 DN4
Mar. 3
8.1 LD
27 m
2009 EA
Mar. 4
7.4 LD
24 m
2009 EW
Mar. 6
0.9 LD
23 m
161989 Cacus
Mar. 7
70.5 LD
1.7 km
2009 EH1
Mar. 8
1.6 LD
12 m
2009 DV43
Mar. 10
8.5 LD
80 m
2009 EU
Mar. 11
3.5 LD
21 m
1998 OR2
Mar. 12
69.8 LD
3.3 km
2009 DR3
Mar. 14
7.2 LD
225 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...
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