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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Solar wind
speed: 431.3 km/sec
density: 3.6 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2346 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: C1
2158 UT Feb20
24-hr: C8
1111 UT Feb20
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2300 UT
Daily Sun: 20 Feb 13
Sunspot AR1678 is growing rapidly and could soon pose a threat for M-class flares. Credit: SDO/HMI
Sunspot number: 117
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 20 Feb 2013

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 0 days
2013 total: 0 days (0%)
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

20 Feb 2013

The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 112 sfu
explanation | more data
Updated 20 Feb 2013

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: 0.2 nT north
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2347 UT
Coronal Holes: 20 Feb 13
Solar wind flowing from this sinuous coronal hole could reach Earth on Feb. 21-22. Credit: SDO/AIA.
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2013 Feb 20 2200 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
45 %
45 %
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: 2013 Feb 20 2200 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
15 %
15 %
05 %
05 %
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
15 %
15 %
25 %
25 %
25 %
25 %
Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2013
What's up in space

Hang the Transit of Venus on your wall! Hubble-quality images from NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory are now available as metallic posters in the Space Weather Store.

Venus Transit metal posters

CHANCE OF FLARES: New sunspot AR1678 has developed a delta-class magnetic field that harbors energy for strong explosions. NOAA forecasters estimate a 55% chance of M-flares and a 15% chance of X-flares during the next 24 hours. Solar flare alerts: text, voice.

FAST-GROWING SUNSPOT: At the beginning of this week, sunspot AR1678 didn't exist. Now it is five times wider than our entire planet. NASA Solar Dynamics Observatory recorded the sunspot's rapid emergence on Feb. 19-20:

Sunspots are islands of magnetism that float on the surface of the sun. This one is emerging from depth and changing at such a rapid pace that its magnetic field is likely unstable. A reconnection event in AR1678's magnetic canopy could lead to a significant solar flare. Stay tuned! Solar flare alerts: text, voice.

Realtime Space Weather Photo Gallery

AURORA WATCH: Despite low solar activity, February has been a good month for auroras, with some observers reporting weeks of nightly Northern Lights around the Arctic Circle. "There were great auroras yesterday night outside the little Inuit village of Ivujivik in Nunavik, Quebec," says Sylvain Serre, who photographed some of the onlookers:

Serre used a Canon EOS 5D digital camera set to 4000 ISO for the 3.2 second exposure. Other photographers should take note of those settings because more lights are in the offing. NOAA forecasters estimate a 40% chance of polar geomagnetic storms on Feb. 21 as a solar wind stream approaches our planet. Aurora alerts: text, voice.

Realtime Aurora Photo Gallery

COMET PAN-STARRS UPDATE: Comet Pan-STARRS (C/2011 L4), widely expected to become a naked-eye object in early March, is now closer to the sun than Venus. Solar heating is vaporizing the comet's icy core and creating a wide, fan-shaped tail visible through binoculars in the southern hemisphere. Ignacio Diaz Bobillo sends this picture from Buenos Aires, Argentina:

"I saw Comet Pan-STARRS just before daybreak in the constellation Grus," says Bobillo. "This is what it looked like through a small telescope, imaged with an exposure time of 8x2 minutes."

In early March, Comet Pan-STARRS will make its closest approach to the sun inside the orbit of Mercury; at that time it could brighten to easy naked-eye visibility. No one knows exactly what will happen, however, because it is a fresh comet being exposed to solar heating for the first time. Experts discuss the possibilities in this video from Science@NASA. More: 3D orbit, ephemeris, light curves, NASA story.

Realtime Comet Photo Gallery

Realtime Noctilucent Cloud Photo Gallery
[previous years: 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011]

  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 20, 2013 there were potentially hazardous asteroids.
Recent & Upcoming Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
2013 DB
Feb 16
5 LD
31 m
2013 DP1
Feb 16
1.7 LD
10 m
2013 CE82
Feb 17
4.6 LD
53 m
2013 CW129
Feb 18
1.3 LD
12 m
2013 CZ87
Feb 19
7 LD
28 m
2009 AV
Feb 25
59.7 LD
1.0 km
2007 EO88
Mar 18
4.4 LD
23 m
1993 UC
Mar 20
49 LD
3.8 km
1997 AP10
Mar 28
45.9 LD
1.8 km
2010 GM23
Apr 13
3.9 LD
50 m
2005 NZ6
Apr 29
24.9 LD
1.3 km
2001 DQ8
Apr 30
74.3 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
Space Weather Alerts
  more links...
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