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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Current conditions
Solar wind
speed: 319.7 km/sec
density: 1.3 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2345 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A0
2340 UT Mar18
24-hr: A0
2340 UT Mar18
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2340 UT
Daily Sun: 18 Mar 09
The sun is blank--no sunspots. Credit: SOHO/MDI
Sunspot number: 0
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 17 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= 0 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 0
explanation | more data
Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
What is the auroral oval?
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 4.3 nT
Bz: 1.8 nT north
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2345 UT
Coronal Holes:
A solar wind stream flowing from the indicated coronal hole should reach Earth on or about March 20th. Credit: SOHO Extreme UV Telescope
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2009 Mar 18 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 18 2201 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
05 %
05 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
10 %
10 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
What's up in Space
March 18, 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 FH is flying past Earth today, March 18th, only 85,000 km (0.00057 AU) away. That's a little more than twice the altitude of a geosynchronous communications satellite. There is no danger of a collision with the 20-meter-wide space rock--just a close shave. Experienced amateur astronomers can track 2009 FH using this ephemeris. It is shining about as brightly as a 14th magnitude star.

asteroid images: from Eric Allen of Observatoire du Cégep de Trois-Rivières, Champlain, Quebec, Canada; from Dean Drumheller of San Mateo, California;

SPACESHIP SIGHTINGS: Space shuttle Discovery docked to the International Space Station on March 17th at 5:20 p.m. EDT. Just before the two spaceships joined, Quintus Oostendorp watched them fly side-by-side over his backyard in the Netherlands:

"It was a beautiful sight seeing both spacecraft moving together past the bright star Sirius," says Oostendorp. "I photographed the event using my Canon 350D."

Now that Discovery is docked, construction can begin. The shuttle is delivering a new set of solar arrays to the station. They will be bolted in place on March 19th and unfurled on March 22nd. The arrays are so large, you can actually see them through backyard telescopes. The trick is knowing when to look.

more images: from Jens Hackmann of Weikersheim, southern Germany; from Marco Langbroek of Leiden, the Netherlands; from Matthew Cook of Ann Arbor, Michigan; from Robert Hoetink of Enschede, the Netherlands; from Dennis Put of Brielle, Zuid-Holland, the Netherlands; from Guy Blattmann of Saint-Etienne-de-Crossey, France

RAINBOW PLANET: Something special is happening to Venus. The brightest of all planets is hanging low in the western sky at sunset, and if you look at it with a backyard telescope, you'll see that it is a slender 4% crescent. But that's not the special part.

What's special is, Venus looks like a rainbow:

Mark D. Marquette took the picture from Boones Creek, Tennessee on March 16th. It shows the view through his 8-inch Celestron. "There was an extreme rainbow effect," he says.

Venus resembles a rainbow because Earth's atmosphere acts like a prism. When Venus is near the horizon, refraction separates the red crescent from the blue. The crescent is so thin, the splitting of colors is obvious. Later this month, Venus will disappear into the glare of the spring sun--so catch the rainbow planet while you can!

more images: from Maurice Gavin of Worcester Park SW London UK; from Sadegh Ghomizadeh of Tehran, Iran; from Joe Ricci of Rochester, New York; from Elias Chasiotis of Markopoulo, Greece; from Lorenzo Comolli of Tradate (VA), Italy; from Paul Kinzer of Galesville, Wisconsin; from P-M Hedén of Vallentuna, Sweden; from Alan Simpson of Renfrew, Scotland; from Frederic Caron of Victoriaville, Qc, Canada; from Paul Schneider of Wilton, Connecticut;

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

Comet Lulin Photo Gallery
[Comet Hunter Telescope: review] [Comet Lulin finder chart]

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 18, 2009 there were 1043 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 ET
Mar. 9
9.5 LD
15 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
2009 FH
Mar. 18
0.2 LD
21 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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