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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Science news and information about the Sun-Earth environment.


Solar Wind
speed: 432.4 km/s
3.6 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2245 UT

X-ray Solar Flares

6-hr max:
A2 2230 UT Mar16
24-hr: A8 1225 UT Mar16
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2245 UT

Daily Sun: 16 Mar '06

Tiny sunspots 860 and 861 pose no threat for strong solar flares. Photo credit:
Howard Eskildsen of Ocala, Florida.

Sunspot Number: 22
What is the sunspot number?
Updated: 15 Mar 2006

Far Side of the Sun

This holographic image reveals no large sunspots on the far side of the sun. Image credit: SOHO/MDI

Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 3.1 nT
0.6 nT north
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2246 UT

Coronal Holes:

SOHO ultraviolet images of the sun are temporarily unavailable. Why? The telescope's CCD camera is being baked out.


Solar Flares: Probabilities for a medium-sized (M-class) or a major (X-class) solar flare during the next 24/48 hours are tabulated below.
Updated at 2006 Mar 16 2204 UTC
FLARE 0-24 hr 24-48 hr
CLASS M 01 % 01 %
CLASS X 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 2006 Mar 16 2204 UTC
0-24 hr 24-48 hr
ACTIVE 10 % 10 %
MINOR 01 % 01 %
SEVERE 01 % 01 %

High latitudes
0-24 hr 24-48 hr
ACTIVE 10 % 20 %
MINOR 01 % 05 %
SEVERE 01 % 01 %

What's Up in Space -- 16 Mar 2006
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The space station is visible in the night sky this month. Would you like to see it? Sign up for Spaceweather PHONE.

QUIET SUN: There are only two small spots on the sun today, and neither poses a threat for flares. That means solar activity is low. Or is it? Continued below...

ACTIVE SUN: "The sun is starting to kick," says Jack Newton of Portal, Arizona, who photographed three prominences dancing along the limb of the sun on March 15th:

Although they resemble flames, prominences are not fire. They are clouds of hot gas held aloft by magnetic force fields. To see them, Newton used a Coronado telescope tuned to the red glow of solar hydrogen. Prominences typically last for a few days and, true to form, they are still dancing today.

more images: from Monty Leventhal of Sydney, Australia; from Robert Arnold on the Isle of Skye, Scotland; from Francisco A. Rodriguez of the Canary Islands.

CELESTIAL DISTORTION: "Do you remember the first time you heard a guitar with distortion? Was it exhilarating?" asks John Stetson, vacationing in Kennebunkport, Maine. On March 14th he snapped this picture of celestial distortion:

March 14 Lunar Eclipse Gallery

The moon rising over Kennebunkport was reddened by dust and distorted by thermal gradients in Earth's atmosphere. And that's not all. The gray shading of the moon's lower-right quadrant is Earth's shadow; the moon was undergoing a penumbral lunar eclipse. Was it exhilarating? You decide.

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 16 Mar 2006 there were 773 known Potentially
Hazardous Asteroids

March 2006 Earth-asteroid encounters




2000 PN9

March 6

7.9 LD


~2 km
2006 EH1

March 7

2.0 LD


~20 m
2006 EC

March 8

0.7 LD


~19 m
Notes: LD is a "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 Environment Center -- The official U.S. government bureau for real-time monitoring of solar and geophysical events, research in solar-terrestrial physics, and forecasting solar and geophysical disturbances.

Atmospheric Optics -- the first place to look for information about sundogs, pillars, rainbows and related phenomena. See also Snow Crystals.

Solar and Heliospheric Observatory -- Realtime and archival images of the Sun from SOHO. (European Mirror Site)

Daily Sunspot Summaries -- from the NOAA Space Environment Center.

Current Solar Images --a gallery of up-to-date solar pictures from the National Solar Data Analysis Center at the Goddard Space Flight Center. See also the GOES-12 Solar X-ray Imager.

Recent Solar Events -- a nice summary of current solar conditions from

SOHO Farside Images of the Sun from SWAN and MDI.

The Latest SOHO Coronagraph Images -- from the Naval Research Lab

Daily images from the sun -- from the Big Bear Solar Observatory

List of Potentially Hazardous Asteroids -- from the Harvard Minor Planet Center.

Observable Comets -- from the Harvard Minor Planet Center.

What is the Interplanetary Magnetic Field? -- A lucid answer from the University of Michigan. See also the Anatomy of Earth's Magnetosphere.

Real-time Solar Wind Data -- from NASA's ACE spacecraft. How powerful are solar wind gusts? Read this story from Science@NASA.

More Real-time Solar Wind Data -- from the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory Proton Monitor.

Lists of Coronal Mass Ejections -- from 1998 to 2001

Mirages: Mirages in Finland; An Introduction to Mirages;

NOAA Solar Flare and Sunspot Data: 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999; 2000; 2001; 2002; 2003; 2004; 2005; Jan-Mar 2006;

Space Audio Streams: (University of Florida) 20 MHz radio emissions from Jupiter: #1, #2, #3, #4; (NASA/Marshall) INSPIRE: #1; (Stan Nelson of Roswell, New Mexico) meteor radar: #1, #2;

Recent International Astronomical Union Circulars


This site is penned daily by Dr. Tony Phillips: email

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