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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Solar wind
speed: 446.8 km/sec
density: 10.2 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2345 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: C2
2141 UT Feb26
24-hr: C2
2141 UT Feb26
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2300 UT
Daily Sun: 25 Feb 12
These sunspots pose no threat for strong flares. Credit: SDO/HMI
Sunspot number: 47
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 24 Feb 2012

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 0 days
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

Updated 24 Feb 2012

The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 105 sfu
explanation | more data
Updated 24 Feb 2012

Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
Planetary K-index
Now: Kp= 1 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 2
explanation | more data
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 6.6 nT
Bz: 4.1 nT north
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2348 UT
Coronal Holes: 24 Feb 12
A solar wind stream flowing from the indicated coronal hole should reach Earth on Feb. 25-26. Credit: SDO/AIA.
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2012 Feb 26 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: 2012 Feb 26 2200 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
25 %
20 %
10 %
05 %
05 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
30 %
25 %
25 %
20 %
15 %
10 %
Sunday, Feb. 26, 2012
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

WEAK IMPACT: A CME hit Earth's magnetic field on Feb. 26th at ~2100 UT. The impact was weak and does not appear set to cause a strong geomagnetic storm.

LOOK WEST AT SUNSET: Venus, Jupiter and the crescent Moon are beaming through the evening twilight, forming a bright triangle visible through city lights and even thin clouds. Try to catch them before the sky fades completely black. The trio surrounded by twilight blue is an especially beautiful sight. This is such a nice event, NASA has issued a news release and video about it. Sky maps: Feb. 25, Feb. 26.

Pavel Kantsurov sends this picture taken just hours ago from Norilsk, Russia:

"Even the industrial landscape looked beautiful with the planets shining above," says Kantsurov.

more images: from Charlie Bates Solar Astronomy Project of Atlanta, GA; from Stan Richard of Urbandale, Iowa; from Enrique Torres of Mérida, Venezuela; from Tamas Abraham of Biatorbagy, Hungary; from Brian Klimowski of Flagstaff, Arizona; from Dirk Obudzinski of San Francisco, California; from Amirreza Kamkar of Qayen-Iran; from Paul Andrew of Dover, Kent, UK; from Clay Quarterman of Odessa, Ukraine; from Francisco Diego of Tower Bridge, London; from Jeff Berkes of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; from Kiss Csongor of Derecske, Hungary; from Thomas Achermann of Toras-Sieppi, Muonio, Finnish Lapland; from Quentin Déhais of France; from Pete Glastonbury of Devizes, Wiltshire, UK; from Stefano De Rosa of Turin (Italy); from Stephan Brügger of Lübeck, Germany; from Paulo Casquinha of Costa da Caparica, Almada, Portugal; from Gregg Alliss of Marion, Iowa; from Robert Snache of Rama First Nation, Ontario

CME TARGETS EARTH, MARS: A coronal mass ejection (CME) launched from the sun on Feb. 24th appears set to hit both Earth and Mars. According to analysts at the Goddard Space Weather Lab, the cloud should reach Earth today, Feb. 26th around 1330 UT (+/- 7 hr), followed by Mars two days later. Click to view the CME's animated forecast track:

The cloud's impact could spark a G2-class geomagnetic storm, so high latitude sky watchers should be alert for auroras. Aurora alerts: text, voice.

If the forecast is correct, the CME could also hit NASA's Mars rover Curiosity on Feb. 27th. The rover, en route to the red planet onboard the Mars Science Lab spacecraft, is equipped with a radiation sensor that could detect energetic particles accelerated by the CME's passage. Indeed, this has happened before.

The CME was hurled into space by a filament of magnetism, which rose up from the sun's northestern limb and erupted on Feb. 24th: SDO movie. Although much of the cloud headed north, out of the plane of the planets, the cloud's lower edge will dip down low enough to intersect Earth, Curiosity, and Mars.

February 2012 Aurora Gallery
[previous Februaries: 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2004, 2003, 2002]

VENUS IN BROAD DAYLIGHT: As the brightest planet in the heavens, Venus can be seen in broad daylight. The trick is knowing where to look. On Feb. 24th, the crescent Moon provided some guidance. "The Moon told us where Venus was in the sky, allowing us to see her in daylight with the naked eye," says Nerissa-Cesarina Urbani, who sends this picture from Serra San Quirico, Italy:

Even among veteran observers, it is always a bit of a surprise to see Venus pop out of the blue sky when you look straight at the planet. Many observers had this experience on Feb. 25th as the helpful Moon glided only 3o away from the goddess of love.

more images: from Thomas Faller of Newnan, GA; from Alan C Tough of Elgin, Moray, Scotland; from Sam Barricklow of Garland, Texas; from Pete Strasser of Tucson, AZ; from Doug Zubenel of Kansas City, Missouri

  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 February 26, 2012 there were 1287 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Recent & Upcoming Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
2012 DY13
Feb 20
0.3 LD
11 m
2012 DF4
Feb 21
3.4 LD
31 m
2012 DX
Feb 21
2 LD
17 m
2012 DZ
Feb 22
2.5 LD
26 m
2011 CP4
Feb 23
9.1 LD
255 m
2012 DY
Feb 24
9.2 LD
21 m
2012 DX13
Feb 25
4.9 LD
70 m
2012 CS46
Feb 25
2.7 LD
12 m
2008 EJ85
Mar 6
9.1 LD
44 m
1999 RD32
Mar 14
57.9 LD
2.4 km
2011 YU62
Mar 16
73.4 LD
1.3 km
1996 SK
Apr 18
67.2 LD
1.6 km
2007 HV4
Apr 19
4.8 LD
8 m
2011 WV134
Apr 28
38.6 LD
1.8 km
1992 JD
May 2
9.5 LD
43 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 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
Trade Show Displays
  more links...
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