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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Current conditions
Solar wind
speed: 453.6 km/sec
density: 0.7 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2346 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: B1
1745 UT Mar17
24-hr: B1
1250 UT Mar17
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2340 UT
Daily Sun: 17 Mar. 10
Sunspot 1054 is slowly decaying and no longer poses a threat for strong solar flares. Credit: SOHO
Sunspot number: 21
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 16 Mar 2010

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 0 days
2010 total: 6 days (8%)
2009 total: 260 days (71%)
Since 2004: 776 days
Typical Solar Min: 485 days
explanation | more info
Updated 16 Mar 2010

The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 85 sfu
explanation | more data
Updated 16 Mar 2010

Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
Planetary K-index
Now: Kp= 1 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 4
explanation | more data
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 5.5 nT
Bz: 2.8 nT south
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2347 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 17 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: 2010 Mar 17 2201 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
30 %
10 %
15 %
05 %
05 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
30 %
10 %
15 %
05 %
05 %
01 %
What's up in Space
March 17, 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.


CRESCENT MOON ALERT: When the sun sets tonight, go outside and look west. An exquisitely thin crescent Moon will be beaming through the twilight. Got the Moon? Look directly below it for Venus, too. [sky map]

NORTHERN LIGHTS: Will the sky turn green for St. Patrick's Day? It could happen around the Arctic Circle. A solar wind stream is buffeting Earth's magnetic field and causing displays like this:

"This green corona lit up the night sky sky over the weekend," reports photographer Fredrik Broms of Kvaløya, Norway. "It was absolutely breathtaking--and the best may be yet to come!"

He's right. A coronal mass ejection (CME) is heading toward Earth and it could spark strong geomagnetic activity when it arrives on March 17th or 18th. High-latitude sky watchers should be alert for auroras.

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

SUPER PROMINENCE: Readers, if you have a solar telescope, scan your optics around the circumference of the sun. A jaw-dropping prominence is surging over the northwestern limb:

"I think the sun is waking up," says Alan Friedman, who sends the picture from his observatory in downtown Buffalo, New York.

The magnificent magnetic arch streches more than 20 Earth-diameters from end to end. Our planet would easily fit through any of the "little" plasma gaps evident in Friedman's photo. The size of the prominence makes it an easy target for amateur solar telescopes, and many observers say it is a mesmerizing sight as it surges and seethes through the eyepiece. Monitoring is encouraged.

more images: from Peter Desypris of Athens, Greece; from Jan Timmermans of Valkenswaard, The Netherlands; from Patrick Pelletier of Serbannes, France; from D. Krupski and J. Stetson of South Portland, Maine; from Sylvain Weiller of Saint Rémy lès Chevreuse, France; from John Minnerath of Crowheart, Wyoming; from Jérôme Grenier of Paris, France; from Pete Lawrence of Selsey, West Sussex, UK

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 17, 2010 there were 1105 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
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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