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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Solar wind
speed: 420.4 km/sec
density: 0.2 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2255 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: C1
2113 UT Feb19
24-hr: C8
0804 UT Feb19
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2300 UT
Daily Sun: 19 Feb 11
Sunspot complex 1161-1162 poses a growing threat for Earth-directed solar flares. Credit: SDO/HMI
Sunspot number: 101
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 18 Feb 2011

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 0 days
2011 total: 1 day (2%)
2010 total: 51 days (14%)
2009 total: 260 days (71%)
Since 2004: 820 days
Typical Solar Min: 486 days

Updated 18 Feb 2011

The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 125 sfu
explanation | more data
Updated 18 Feb 2011

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: 7.0 nT
Bz: 3.7 nT south
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2256 UT
Coronal Holes: 18 Feb 11
There are no large equatorial coronal holes on the Earth-side of the sun. Credit: SDO/AIA.
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2011 Feb 19 2200 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
75 %
75 %
15 %
15 %
Geomagnetic Storms:
Probabilities for significant disturbances in Earth's magnetic field are given for three activity levels: active, minor storm, severe storm
Updated at: 2011 Feb 19 2200 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
20 %
05 %
05 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
25 %
05 %
05 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
Saturday, Feb. 19, 2011
What's up in space

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Satellite flybys

ANOTHER X-FLARE--ALMOST: Fast-growing sunspot complex 1161-1162 erupted on Feb. 18th, producing an M6.6-class solar flare. The almost-X category blast was one of the strongest flares in years and continued the week-long trend of high solar activity. NOAA forecasters estimate a 75% chance of more M-flares during the next 24 hours.

WAVES OF IONIZATION: Waves of ionization are rippling through Earth's upper atmosphere in response to the recent onslaught of solar flares. This affects the propagation of radio signals--suppressing some frequencies and boosting others. By monitoring distant transmitters at a frequency of 23.4 kHz, Rudolf Slosiar of Bojnice, Slovakia detected nearly a dozen sudden ionospheric disturbances (SIDs) on Feb. 18th:

"Each surge in signal strength corresponds to a specific solar flare," notes Slosiar. "Individual peaks exactly match events recorded by Earth-orbiting satellites."

More waves of ionization are iin the offing as sunspot complex 1161-1162 continues to crackle with M-class solar flares. The next SID could be over your backyard. Do-it-yourself SID monitors are available from Stanford University.

more SIDS: from Roberto Battaiola of Pantigliate, Milan, ITALY; from Jan Karlovsky of Hlohovec, Slovakia; from Rob Stammes of Laukvik, Norway.

CME SPARKS AURORAS: One and possibly two CMEs hit Earth during the early hours of Feb. 18th, creating a gusty solar wind environment around our planet and fueling a minor G1-class geomagnetic storm. During the storm-peak, auroras were visible over Canada despite interference from the full moon:

"The auroras were very colorful," reports photographer Sylvain Serre from Salluit, an Inuit village in Nunavik, Canada. "It was worth going out in the cold weather (-30 C) to see the show."

Although the storm has subsided, it could flare up again as the solar wind continues to swirl around Earth. High-latitude sky watchers should remain alert for auroras.

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

  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 19, 2011 there were 1198 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Recent & Upcoming Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
2011 BV59
Feb 11
6.9 LD
18 m
2011 CD66
Feb 13
7.2 LD
18 m
2011 CL50
Feb 19
6.2 LD
12 m
2003 YG118
Feb 20
67.7 LD
1.8 km
2000 PN9
Mar 10
45.5 LD
2.6 km
2002 DB4
Apr 15
62.5 LD
2.2 km
2008 UC202
Apr 27
8.9 LD
10 m
2009 UK20
May 2
8.6 LD
23 m
2008 FU6
May 5
75.5 LD
1.2 km
2003 YT1
May 5
65.3 LD
2.5 km
2002 JC
Jun 1
57.5 LD
1.6 km
2009 BD
Jun 2
0.9 LD
9 m
2002 JB9
Jun 11
71.5 LD
3.2 km
2001 VH75
Jun 12
42.2 LD
1.1 km
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
Science Central
  more links...
©2010 All rights reserved. This site is penned daily by Dr. Tony Phillips.
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