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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Current conditions
Solar wind
speed: 355.8 km/sec
density: 6.6 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2345 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A0
2340 UT Mar05
24-hr: A0
2340 UT Mar05
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2340 UT
Daily Sun: 05 Mar 09
The sun is blank--no sunspots. Credit: SOHO/MDI

more images: from Erika Rix of Zanesville, Ohio; from Robert Arnold of Isle of Skye, Scotland
Sunspot number: 0
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 05 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= 0 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 2
explanation | more data
Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
What is the auroral oval?
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 4.3 nT
Bz: 1.5 nT north
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2346 UT
Coronal Holes:
A coronal hole is emerging over the sun's eastern limb. . Credit: SOHO Extreme UV Telescope
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2009 Mar 05 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 05 2201 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
05 %
05 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
10 %
10 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
What's up in Space
March 5, 2009

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


SHUTTLE LAUNCH: NASA has announced a tentative launch date for space shuttle Discovery: March 11th at 9:20 pm EDT. The spectacular night launch will mark the beginning of a two week mission to the International Space Station where astronauts will add a new pair of solar wings to power the growing spaceport. The timing of launch, if it goes off as planned, is favorable for North American sky watchers who will be able to see the ISS and Discovery flying in tandem through the night sky. Stay tuned for sightings.

GENTLE SOLAR WIND: Last night, March 4th, a minor solar wind stream buffeted Earth's magnetic field. It was just a gentle gust, but sometimes a gentle gust is all it takes. The Arctic Circle lit up with vivid auroras:

Photo details: Canon EOS 30D, 5 sec, f 3.5, ISO 800, 10mm

"The Northern Lights were very active," says photographer Sylvain Serre of Salluit, a Inuit village in northern Canada. He took the picture above using his Canon EOS 30D.

NASA's STEREO-B spacecraft has spotted a coronal hole over the sun's eastern limb. Soon, that hole will turn to face Earth and it will send a stronger solar wind stream in our direction. Expected impact: March 12th. Arctic sky watchers, mark your calenders for some not-so-gentle auroras.

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

RUSSIAN COMSAT CLOUD: "On Saturday evening, February 28th, I was observing at the Astronomical Society of Victoria dark-sky site near Heathcote, Australia," reports Michael Mattiazzo. "At 21:45 AEDT (10:45 UT) I happened to glance westwards and noticed a mysterious V-shaped glow just below Alpha Ceti. During the 5 minutes I spent aligning the telescope and setting up my camera on piggyback, it expanded considerably." He combined four images from his Canon 300D to create this 6-minute animation:

"[The object that emitted the cloud] can be seen in my animation heading in an easterly direction toward the right side of the photo. Satellite expert Tony Beresford has identified it as a new Russian military comsat launched from Baykonur on Feb 28th."

The name of the comsat is Raduga-1; it is an improved version of the Soviet-era old Gran' (Raduga) satellite first launched in 1975. Two burns were required to place Raduga-1 into geosynchronous orbit and purely by chance Mattiazzo saw one of them. It just goes to show ... you never know what you might see if you keep looking up.

UPDATED: Comet Lulin Photo Gallery
[Comet Hunter Telescope] [Sky maps: March 5, 6, 7]

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 5, 2009 there were 1035 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 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...
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