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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Current conditions
Solar wind
speed: 363.5 km/sec
density: 3.0 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2345 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A0
2340 UT Mar11
24-hr: A0
1210 UT Mar11
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2340 UT
Daily Sun: 11 Mar 09
The sun is blank--no sunspots. Credit: SOHO/MDI
Sunspot number: 0
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 10 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= 1 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 1
explanation | more data
Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
What is the auroral oval?
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 9.1 nT
Bz: 2.6 nT north
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2346 UT
Coronal Holes:
A solar wind stream flowing from the indicated coronal hole should arrive on or about March 13th. Credit: SOHO Extreme UV Telescope
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2009 Mar 11 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 11 2201 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
05 %
20 %
01 %
10 %
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
10 %
30 %
01 %
20 %
01 %
05 %
What's up in Space
March 11, 2009

AURORA ALERT: Did you sleep through the Northern Lights? Next time get a wake-up call: Spaceweather PHONE.


LUCKY AURORAS: Friday the 13th could be a lucky day for Arctic sky watchers. A solar wind stream is heading for Earth, and NOAA forecasters estimate a 30% chance of geomagnetic activity when it arrives on March 13th. Stay tuned for Northern Lights at the end of the week: gallery.

COSMOS IS FALLING: The first fragments of shattered satellite Cosmos 2251 are about to reenter Earth's atmosphere. According to US Strategic Command, fragment 1993-036PX will reenter on March 12th, followed by 1993-036KW on March 28th and 1993-036MC on March 30th. These are probably centimeter-sized pieces that will disintegrate in the atmosphere, posing no threat to people on the ground.

Cosmos 2251 was shattered on Feb. 10th when it collided with Iridium 33. Cosmos 2251 possessed almost twice the mass of Iridium 33 and to date appears to have produced more than twice the number of fragments. Click on the image to view a map of the debris orbits:

"As of March 7th, there were 355 catalogued fragments of Cosmos 2251 and 159 fragments of Iridium 33," says Daniel Deak who prepared the orbit-map. "The Cosmos fragments are not only more numerous, but also more widely scattered, ranging in altitude from 198 km to 1689 km. For comparison, Iridium fragments are confined to altitudes between 582 km and 1262 km."

The extra scatter of Cosmos debris is not fully understood. Impact geometry could explain the spread, but no one knows exactly how the two complex vehicles struck one another. A factor of possible importance: Cosmos 2251 was internally pressurized. Once ruptured, it may have blown itself apart.

The International Space Station is in no immediate peril. "NASA has recognized from the first day [of the collision] that the risks to both ISS and STS-119 have increased," says Nick Johnson, Chief Scientist for Orbital Debris at the Johnson Space Center. "However, those increases have been relatively minor in comparison to the background environment."

Updated debris maps: #1, #2, #3, #4, #5.

WORM MOON RISING: According to folklore, this week's full Moon has a special name--the Worm Moon. It heralds the coming of northern spring and the first stirring of earthworms in thawing garden soils. Keith Breazeal photographed the "worm moonrise" last night near Lake Tahoe, California:

"What a view it was as it rose against the tree line just after sunset," says Breazeal. "I took the picture using my Canon 40D."

more images: from Mark and Nancy Staples of Santa Fe, New Mexico; from Doug Zubenel of Cedar Creek near De Soto, Kansas; from Tamas Ladanyi of Veszprem, Hungary; from Elias Chasiotis of Markopoulo, Greece; from Abraham Tamas of Zsámbék, Hungary; from Honor Wheeler of Wilmington, Kent, UK; from Thad V'Soske at the Colorado National Monument, Colorado; from Aymen Ibrahem of Bibliotheca Alexandrina, Alexandria, Egypt; from Christopher Calubaquib of El Sobrante, California; from Rob Kaufman of Castlemaine, Victoria, Australia; from Fredrik Broms of Kvaløya, Norway;

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

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 11, 2009 there were 1037 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
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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