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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Current conditions
Solar wind
speed: 343.7 km/sec
density: 0.0 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2345 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: B2
1815 UT Mar21
24-hr: B6
0905 UT Mar21
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2340 UT
Daily Sun: 21 Mar. 10
After fading away for one day, sunspot 1056 has reappeared. Credit: SOHO/MDI
Sunspot number: 25
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 20 Mar 2010

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 0 days
2010 total: 6 days (7%)
2009 total: 260 days (71%)
Since 2004: 776 days
Typical Solar Min: 485 days
explanation | more info
Updated 20 Mar 2010

The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 84 sfu
explanation | more data
Updated 20 Mar 2010

Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
Planetary K-index
Now: Kp= 1 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 1
explanation | more data
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 3.7 nT
Bz: 0.4 nT north
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2346 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 21 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: 2010 Mar 21 2201 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
15 %
15 %
05 %
05 %
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
15 %
15 %
05 %
05 %
01 %
01 %
What's up in Space
March 21, 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.


SUNSPOT SPRING: After fading away for a day, sunspot 1056 has returned and it is growing rapidly. The active region does not yet pose a threat for strong flares but this could change if its expansion continues apace. Readers with solar telescopes are encouraged to monitor developments.

sunspot images: from James Kevin Ty of Manila, Philippines; from John C McConnell of Maghaberry Northern Ireland; from Peter Paice of Belfast, Northern Ireland

MOON AND STARS: Last night, the crescent Moon and the Pleiades star cluster gathered for a pretty close encounter over North America. In Texas, the encounter was so close, the Moon actually covered some of the Seven Sisters. Anna Morris sends this picture from San Antonio:

"We threw a star party to observe the occultation," says Morris. "Despite poor weather we were treated to a fantastic scene through brief breaks in the fast-moving clouds. Using a Nikon D40 and an Orion EON80ED telescope, I made four bracketed exposures to capture the Pleiades, the Moon's brightly-lit crescent and the Earthshine. This image is a combination of the four."

Americans who missed the occultation can always catch the next one like it ... in the year 2023. Oops. Browse the links below for a 13-year preview.

more images: from Tavi Greiner of Coastal North Carolina; from Tim Printy of Manchester, NH; from Tara O'Leary north of Fairbanks, Alaska; from Monika Landy-Gyebnar of Veszprem, Hungary; from Tamas Ladanyi of Veszprem, Hungary; from Mustafa Erol of Antalya, Turkey; from Antonios Pantelidis of Florina, Greece; from Edmund E Kasaitis of Manchester, MD

ISS OVER TIMES SQUARE: It's not easy to see the stars from New York. Almost nothing in the heavens can compete with the busy glare of the great city's urban lights--emphasis on almost. Patrick G. McCourt sends this report: "We were in Times Square on March 19th when the International Space Station (ISS) passed overhead. The ambient light is so bright that no stars were visible, even though the skies were perfectly clear. Yet, we could easily spot the ISS as it slipped silently over the traffic's roar."

"I had to adjust the levels in Photoshop to make it visible in the photo, but this fairly accurately represents what we saw with the naked eye. Tell the astronauts we gave their regards to Broadway."

If you can see the ISS in Times Square, you can see it anywhere! Check the Simple Satellite Tracker for flybys of your home town. And don't forget, there's an app for that, too.

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 21, 2010 there were 1110 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
2010 EF43
March 18
5.0 LD
23 m
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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