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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Current conditions
Solar wind
speed: 379.8 km/sec
density: 0.6 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2344 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: B1
2100 UT Mar14
24-hr: C1
0000 UT Mar14
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2340 UT
Daily Sun: 14 Mar. 10
Sunspot 1054 is growing rapidly and poses a threat for C-class solar flares. Credit: SOHO
Sunspot number: 32
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 13 Mar 2010

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 0 days
2010 total: 6 days (8%)
2009 total: 260 days (71%)
Since 2004: 776 days
Typical Solar Min: 485 days
explanation | more info
Updated 13 Mar 2010

The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 92 sfu
explanation | more data
Updated 13 Mar 2010

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: 4.1 nT
Bz: 3.4 nT north
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2345 UT
Coronal Holes:
There are no large coronal holes on the Earth-facing side of the sun. Credit: SOHO Extreme UV Telescope
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2010 Mar 14 2201 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
05 %
05 %
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: 2010 Mar 14 2201 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
30 %
30 %
10 %
10 %
05 %
05 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
30 %
30 %
15 %
15 %
05 %
05 %
What's up in Space
March 14, 2010

NEW AND IMPROVED: Turn your iPhone or iPod Touch into a field-tested global satellite tracker. The Satellite Flybys app now works in all countries.


INCOMING: This morning, the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory recorded a halo CME emerging from the vicinity of sunspot 1054: movie. The cloud appears to be heading toward Earth and it could spark geomagnetic storms when it arrives on or about March 17th. High-latitude sky watchers should be alert for auroras.

HAPPY PI DAY: March 14th (3.14) is day and all around the world mathematicians are celebrating this compelling and mysterious constant of Nature. Pi appears in equations describing the orbits of planets, the colors of auroras, the structure of DNA. It's everywhere.

Humans have been struggling to calculate for thousands of years. Divide the circumference of a circle by its diameter; the ratio is . Sounds simple, but the devil is in the digits. While the value of is finite (a smidgen more than 3), the decimal number is infinitely long:


Supercomputers have succeeded in calculating more than 2700 billion digits and they're still crunching. The weirdest way to compute : throw needles at a table or frozen hot dogs on the floor. Party time!

COMET TOAST: The solar system has one less comet. On March 12th, the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) watched as a comet plunged into the sun and disappeared. Fierce solar heating completely destroyed the icy visitor from the outer solar system. Click on the image to see the comet's last hours:

The comet was probably a member of the Kreutz sungrazer family. Named after a 19th century German astronomer who studied them in detail,Dirk Peeters.Kreutz sungrazers are fragments from the breakup of a giant comet at least 2000 years ago. Several of these fragments pass by the sun and disintegrate every day. Most are too small to see but occasionally a big fragment--like this one--attracts attention.

UPDATE: Several readers have noticed that the doomed comet was actually a string of doomed comets, plural. Click here for a Youtube video posted by Kurt McNamara, and here for a sequence of labeled diagrams from Dirk Peeters.

March Northern Lights Gallery
[previous Marches: 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004, 2003]

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 14, 2010 there were 1105 potentially hazardous asteroids.
March 2010 Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
2001 PT9
March 3
11.1 LD
305 m
4486 Mithra
March 12
73.5 LD
3.3 km
2001 FM129
March 13
44.1 LD
1.5 km
2002 TE66
March 28
48.0 LD
940 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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