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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Solar wind
speed: 355.6 km/sec
density: 2.7 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2347 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: B2
1709 UT Mar09
24-hr: C3
1250 UT Mar09
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2300 UT
Daily Sun: 09 Mar 16
Not one of these relatively small sunspots poses a threat for strong flares. Solar activity remains very low. Credit: SDO/HMI

Sunspot number: 48
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 09 Mar 2016

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 0 days
2016 total: 0 days (0%)
2015 total: 0 days (0%)

2014 total: 1 day (<1%)
2013 total: 0 days (0%)
2012 total: 0 days (0%)
2011 total: 2 days (<1%)
2010 total: 51 days (14%)
2009 total: 260 days (71%)

Updated 09 Mar 2016

The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 96 sfu
explanation | more data
Updated 09 Mar 2016

Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
Credit: NOAA/Ovation
Planetary K-index
Now: Kp= 2 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 2
explanation | more data
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 3.4 nT
Bz: 2.6 nT south
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2347 UT
Coronal Holes: 09 Mar 16

There are no large coronal holes on the Earthside of the sun. Credit: SDO/AIA.
Noctilucent Clouds The southern season for noctilucent clouds began on Dec. 13, 2015. It is expected to end in late February 2016.
Switch view: Ross Ice Shelf, Antarctic Peninsula, East Antarctica, Polar
Updated at: 02-12-2016 16:55:02
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2016 Mar 09 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: 2016 Mar 09 2200 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
15 %
15 %
05 %
05 %
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
20 %
20 %
20 %
20 %
20 %
20 %
Wednesday, Mar. 9, 2016
What's up in space

Marianne's Heaven On Earth Aurora Chaser Tours invites you to join them in their quest to find and photograph the Aurora Borealis. Experience the winter wonderland in the Tromsø Area.

Chase the Light Tours

TOTAL ECLIPSE OF THE SUN: The March 9th solar eclipse is over--"and it was incredible," says Dana Crom of Earth to Sky Calculus, who witnessed the event from a beach on Belitung Island, Indonesia. "At first we thought we would not be able to see the eclipse, but morning clouds parted just in time for totality."

Indeed, all over Indonesia, observers spied the eclipse between and, more often, straight through clouds. Janne Pyykkö sends this picture from the nearby island of Terante:

"With the help of local friends, I was able to find a coconut palm standing alone and two brave men willing to climb it for the photo," says Pyykkö. "During totality, high clouds muted the best sky colors. Even so, it was a fantastic experience."

On Belitung Island, Earth to Sky Calculus student Ginger Perez recorded a must-see video of totality. (Turn up the volume to hear the reaction of the crowd and the sound of ocean waves.) "It was hot when the sun rose this morning," says Ginger, "but the temperature dropped when the shadow of the Moon swept over us. It felt so nice! The slight ocean breeze made the eclipse sweeter still."

Japan's Sunflower-8 meteorological satellite saw the Moon's shadow from Earth orbit. Here it is racing across the Pacific on March 9th:

When the shadow engulfed Ternate, Indonesia, "the temperature dropped from 91.3F to 82.5F and the humidity increased from 73% to 85%," reports photographer Donald S. Gardner. "Roosters were crowing after totality."

Meanwhile, 30,000 feet above the Pacific, Alaska Airlines flight 870 from Anchorage to Honolulu diverted to fly through the path of totality. "I took photos every 2 seconds beginning 2 minutes before totality and ending 2 minutes after totality," reports passenger Evan Zucker who, fortunately, had a window seat:

The top frame shows the view from the plane as it crossed the middle of the Moons shadow. The bottom frame shows light returning to the cloudtops as the plane began to exit. More of Zucker's airborne photos may be found here.

Browse the photo gallery for more tales from the eclipse zone:

Realtime Spaceweather Photo Gallery

MAGNETIC REVERBERATIONS: Here on, we often say that Earth's magnetic field is "reverberating" from the impact of a CME or a solar wind stream. This is what we mean:

This plot shows the response of a magnetometer in England to a strong geomagnetic storm on March 6th and 7th. The east-west vector of Earth's magnetic field was swinging back and forth, "reverberating" as a stream of solar wind passed by our planet.

"My magnetometer went wild on March 6th as Earth entered a fast flowing and highly geoeffective solar wind stream, creating bright aurora even down to lower latitudes over Europe," reports Stuart Green of Preston, Lancashire, UK. "This is the largest response I've measured so far this year."

Magnetic fields cannot be seen by the human eye, but the magnetic reverberations were anything but invisible. This is what the sky looked like overhead:

Colin Cooper took the picture from Tynemouth, UK, barely 150 miles away from Green's magnetometer. "An incredible display rarely seen this far south," says Cooper. "There were some of the brightest rays and fastest movement I've ever seen for auroras in the UK."

The display was also seen in Scandinavia, Iceland, Canada, several US states, and even in the Southern Hemisphere. Browse the gallery for more reverberations:

Realtime Aurora Photo Gallery

Realtime Spaceweather Photo Gallery

Realtime Comet Photo Gallery

  All Sky Fireball Network
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

On Mar. 9, 2016, the network reported 9 fireballs.
(9 sporadics)

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]

  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 9, 2016 there were potentially hazardous asteroids.
Recent & Upcoming Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
2016 EL1
Mar 4
0.6 LD
12 m
2016 EG1
Mar 5
1.1 LD
7 m
2016 DN2
Mar 5
1.8 LD
20 m
2016 EW1
Mar 7
10.8 LD
39 m
2013 TX68
Mar 8
13 LD
38 m
2016 EV28
Mar 8
0.4 LD
9 m
2001 PL9
Mar 9
77.6 LD
1.2 km
2016 EL27
Mar 10
10.9 LD
24 m
2016 EB1
Mar 10
5.4 LD
48 m
2016 EU28
Mar 12
6.4 LD
26 m
2016 EJ27
Mar 12
9.7 LD
41 m
2010 FX9
Mar 19
6.9 LD
62 m
Mar 21
13.9 LD
0 m
Mar 22
9.2 LD
545 m
1993 VA
Mar 23
59.6 LD
1.6 km
2016 CY135
Mar 23
13.9 LD
60 m
2016 EQ1
Mar 24
8.3 LD
28 m
2001 XD
Mar 28
64.5 LD
1.0 km
2016 BC14
Mar 29
9.8 LD
270 m
2002 AJ29
Apr 6
55.2 LD
1.5 km
2002 EB3
Apr 8
55.6 LD
1.2 km
2009 KJ
Apr 10
37.7 LD
1.6 km
2005 GR33
Apr 13
7.8 LD
175 m
2008 HU4
Apr 16
4.9 LD
10 m
2001 VG5
Apr 28
52.4 LD
1.8 km
2014 US115
May 1
9.4 LD
52 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.
  Cosmic Rays in the Atmosphere
Situation Report -- Oct. 30, 2015 Stratospheric Radiation (+37o N)
Cosmic ray levels are elevated (+6.1% above the Space Age median). The trend is flat. Cosmic ray levels have increased +0% in the past month.
Sept. 06: 4.14 uSv/hr (414 uRad/hr)
Sept. 12: 4.09 uSv/hr (409 uRad/hr)
Sept. 23: 4.12 uSv/hr (412 uRad/hr)
Sept. 25: 4.16 uSv/hr (416 uRad/hr)
Sept. 27: 4.13 uSv/hr (413 uRad/hr)
Oct. 11: 4.02 uSv/hr (402 uRad/hr)
Oct. 22: 4.11 uSv/hr (411 uRad/hr)
These measurements are based on regular space weather balloon flights: learn more.

Approximately once a week, and the students of Earth to Sky Calculus fly "space weather balloons" to the stratosphere over California. These balloons are equipped with radiation sensors that detect cosmic rays, a surprisingly "down to Earth" form of space weather. Cosmic rays can seed clouds, trigger lightning, and penetrate commercial airplanes. Our measurements show that someone flying back and forth across the continental USA, just once, can absorb as much ionizing radiation as 2 to 5 dental X-rays. For example, here is the data from a flight on Oct. 22, 2015:

Radiation levels peak at the entrance to the stratosphere in a broad region called the "Pfotzer Maximum." This peak is named after physicist George Pfotzer who discovered it using balloons and Geiger tubes in the 1930s. Radiation levels there are more than 80x sea level.

Note that the bottom of the Pfotzer Maximim is near 55,000 ft. This means that some high-flying aircraft are not far from the zone of maximum radiation. Indeed, according to the Oct 22th measurements, a plane flying at 45,000 feet is exposed to 2.79 uSv/hr. At that rate, a passenger would absorb about one dental X-ray's worth of radiation in about 5 hours.

The radiation sensors onboard our helium balloons detect X-rays and gamma-rays in the energy range 10 keV to 20 MeV. These energies span the range of medical X-ray machines and airport security scanners.

  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
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