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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Solar wind
speed: 355.5 km/sec
density: 0.2 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2345 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: B8
2109 UT Mar31
24-hr: B8
2109 UT Mar31
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2300 UT
Daily Sun: 31 Mar 12
Returning sunspot AR1429 is just a shadow of its former self, having decayed substantially during its two week trip around the backside of the sun. Credit: SDO/HMI
Sunspot number: 93
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 30 Mar 2012

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 0 days
2012 total: 0 days (0%)
2011 total: 2 days (<1%)
2010 total: 51 days (14%)
2009 total: 260 days (71%)
Since 2004: 821 days
Typical Solar Min: 486 days

Updated 30 Mar 2012

The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 112 sfu
explanation | more data
Updated 30 Mar 2012

Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
Planetary K-index
Now: Kp= 2 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 2
explanation | more data
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 6.3 nT
Bz: 2.9 nT north
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2346 UT
Coronal Holes: 31 Mar 12
There are no large coronal holes on the Earthside of the sun. Credit: SDO/AIA.
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2012 Mar 31 2200 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
10 %
10 %
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: 2012 Mar 31 2200 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
05 %
05 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
15 %
15 %
15 %
15 %
05 %
05 %
Saturday, Mar. 31, 2012
What's up in space

Metallic photos of the sun by renowned photographer Greg Piepol bring together the best of art and science. Buy one or a whole set. They make a stellar gift.

Metallic pictures of the Sun

QUIET WEEKEND: With the return of formerly-explosive sunspot AR1429 proving anticlimactic, solar activity is low. No strong flares are likely this weekend.

SPRITE SEASON BEGINS: The first sprites of summer are starting to appear in the skies of North America. The strange thing is, summer is almost three months away. "Sprite season is beginning early this year," says Thomas Ashcraft, who photographed these specimens last night from his observatory in New Mexico:

"At precisely two minutes and twenty-six seconds after midnight March 30, 2012 there was an incredibly powerful bolt of lightning in the vicinity of Woodward, Oklahoma that spawned these red sprites," says Ashcraft. "I could see them from two states away!" He also recorded VLF and shortwave radio emissions from the cluster, which you can hear as the soundtrack to this video.

Sprites are electrical discharges that come out of the top of thunderclouds, opposite ordinary lightning bolts which plunge toward Earth. Sprites can tower as high as 90 km above ground. That makes them a form of space weather as they overlap the zone of auroras, meteors, and noctilucent clouds.

Because they are associated with lightning, sprites are most often seen in summer months, "but in the past few days sprites have been reported in Texas (particularly near the Mexican border) as well as here in New Mexico," notes Ashcraft.

So if there's lightning where you live, be alert for sprites.

NORTHERN LIGHTS: Spring is aurora season, and the Arctic Circle is alight with green. On March 30th, first-time aurora photographer Alex Keen had no trouble finding a scene to shoot in Inari, Finland.

"This was the very first time that I have ever witnessed the Aurora Borealis and to say that I was captured by its magnificence and beauty would be the understatement of the Century," says Alex. "My Dad, Andy Keen, has been 'hunting' and photographing the 'lights' for many years and, up to now, I have only experienced them through his images and the countless stories that he has relayed to me regarding his adventures here in Northern Lapland. To have actually seen and 'felt' them first- hand was completely different and I can now fully understand and relate to his passion for what is quite rightly described by many as one of Mother Nature's most spectacular natural phenomena." Aurora alerts: text, phone.

more images: from Frank Olsen of Bø i Vesterålen, Norway; from Fredrik Broms of Kvaløya, Norway; from Ole C. Salomonsen of Grøtfjord, Tromsø; from Dirk Obudzinski of Circle, Alaska; from Thilo Bubek of near Tromsø / Norway; from Helge Mortensen of Kvaløya, Norway; from Bob Franklin of Door County Wisconsin; from Jónína Óskarsdóttir of Faskrudsfjordur, Iceland; from LeRoy Zimmerman of Ester, AK

February 2012 Aurora Gallery
[previous Februaries: 2011, 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 March 31, 2012 there were 1287 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Recent & Upcoming Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
2012 FS35
Mar 26
0.2 LD
4 m
2012 FV23
Mar 30
6.6 LD
36 m
2012 EG5
Apr 1
0.6 LD
60 m
2012 FW35
Apr 1
8.3 LD
23 m
2012 FS52
Apr 2
8.9 LD
44 m
2012 FH58
Apr 3
3.6 LD
17 m
2012 FA57
Apr 4
1.1 LD
29 m
1996 SK
Apr 18
67.2 LD
1.6 km
2007 HV4
Apr 19
4.8 LD
8 m
2011 WV134
Apr 28
38.6 LD
1.6 km
1992 JD
May 2
9.5 LD
43 m
2010 KK37
May 19
2.3 LD
31 m
4183 Cuno
May 20
47.4 LD
5.7 km
2002 VX94
May 26
72.8 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
Trade Show Displays
  more links...
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