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CHANCE OF STORMS: NOAA forecasters estimate a 40% to 45% chance of geomagnetic storms this weekend as a high-speed solar wind stream buffets Earth's magnetic field. Arctic sky watchers should be alert for auroras on March 8-9. Aurora alerts: text, voice
STRONG SOLAR FLARE: Emerging sunspot AR2297 has erupted again, producing its strongest flare yet: an M9-class explosion on March 7th at 22:22 UT. NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory captured the extreme ultraviolet flash:
Radiation from the flare ionized the upper layers of Earth's atmosphere on the dayside of the planet. This caused a moderate HF radio blackout over the Pacific Ocean. Mariners and hams operating at frequencies below 10 MHz woud likely have noticed disturbed and/or attenuated signals in the red zone of this NOAA blackout map:
There's more to this explosion than a solar flare. SOHO coronagraphs show a CME emerging from the blast site, as well: image. The cloud of plasma will probably miss Earth, but a glancing blow cannot yet be ruled out based on the limited data at hand.
More flares are in the offing. The magnetic canopy of sunspot AR2297 has been exploding at least once a day for the past three days, and there is no reason to expect a cessation. Stay tuned for solar activity. Solar flare alerts: text, voice
UNUSUAL HAM RADIO PROPAGATION: It may seem strange, but solar flares can be both good and bad for radio communications. It all depends on the frequency. Below 10 MHz, signals were strongly attenuated. At higher frequencies, however, the reflectivity of the ionosphere was increased, allowing improved over-the-horizon communications. Ham radio operator Bob MacKenzie of Ottawa, Canada, shares this anecdote: "Only minutes after the M9 flare on March 7th, I was able to work three amateur stations in Japan using just 5 watts of single-sideband power and a single-element vertical antenna in my backyard. It's a rare event to work Japan so easily with such little power on phone and not Morse code. The annual ARRL International DX Phone contest was on at the time so there were plenty of DX stations on the air, making this observation of unusual propagation possible." Solar flare alerts: text, voice
Realtime Space Weather Photo Gallery
SPACE SEEDS: In late February, the students of Earth to Sky Calculus conducted an experiment in "space agriculture." Using a sub-orbital helium balloon, they flew a dozen varieties of garden vegatables and flowers to the edge of space. Here are three of the seed packets photographed at an altitude of 112,030 feet:
During their ascent to the stratosphere, these seeds (and 80 other packets not shown) experienced temperatures as low as -63 C, air pressures akin to those on the planet Mars, and cosmic ray dose rates 40x Earth-normal. While these "space seeds" were flying to the edge of space, identical control samples remained behind on Earth.
Students intend to plant the flown seeds side-by-side with control samples to investigate whether near-space travel affects the viability, color, size, taste or other characteristics of the plants.
Readers, would you like to grow your own space garden? For a small donation of $49.95 to Earth to Sky Calculus, you can have some of these space seeds for yourself. They make a great science fair project and, possibly, a unique meal! You may chose any two seed types from the following list: turnips, cherry tomatoes, beefsteak tomatoes, sweet corn, green beans, bell peppers, helichrysum flowers, jalapeno peppers, petunias, radishes, sunflowers, cosmos flowers, pumpkins, broccoli and carrots. We will send you flown+control packets for both of your selections. Contact Dr. Tony Phillips to place your order. All proceeds support student research.
Realtime Comet Photo Gallery
Realtime Aurora Photo Gallery
Every night, a network of NASA all-sky cameras scans the skies above the United States for meteoritic fireballs. Automated software maintained by NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office calculates their orbits, velocity, penetration depth in Earth's atmosphere and many other characteristics. Daily results are presented here on Spaceweather.com.
On Mar. 8, 2015, the network reported 9 fireballs.
In this diagram of the inner solar system, all of the fireball orbits intersect at a single point--Earth. The orbits are color-coded by velocity, from slow (red) to fast (blue). [Larger image] [movies]
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 8, 2015 there were potentially hazardous asteroids.
Recent & Upcoming Earth-asteroid encounters: 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.
|Asteroid || |
|2015 DK200 || |
|2063 Bacchus || |
| ||The official U.S. government space weather bureau |
| ||The first place to look for information about sundogs, pillars, rainbows and related phenomena. |
| ||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 |
| ||Realtime and archival images of the Sun from SOHO. |
| ||from the NOAA Space Environment Center |
| ||the underlying science of space weather |