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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Solar wind
speed: 361.7 km/sec
density: 1.1 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2344 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: B4
1804 UT Mar20
24-hr: B7
0733 UT Mar20
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2300 UT
Daily Sun: 20 Mar 11
Sunspot 1175 is quiet and poses no immediate threat for strong flares. Credit: SDO/HMI
Sunspot number: 48
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 19 Mar 2011

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 0 days
2011 total: 1 day (1%)
2010 total: 51 days (14%)
2009 total: 260 days (71%)
Since 2004: 820 days
Typical Solar Min: 486 days

Updated 19 Mar 2011

The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 89 sfu
explanation | more data
Updated 19 Mar 2011

Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
Planetary K-index
Now: Kp= 0 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 2
explanation | more data
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 4.4 nT
Bz: 3.3 nT south
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2346 UT
Coronal Holes: 20 Mar 11
A solar wind stream flowing from this minor coronal hole could reach Earth on or about March 23rd. Credit: SDO/AIA.
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2011 Mar 20 2200 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
10 %
20 %
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: 2011 Mar 20 2200 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
10 %
10 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
15 %
15 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
Sunday, Mar. 20, 2011
What's up in space

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Satellite flybys

THE SEASONS ARE CHANGING: Today, March 20th, is the date of the vernal equinox. At 7:21 pm EDT (2321 UT), the sun crosses the equator heading north. This marks the start of spring in the Northern Hemisphere and autumn in the Southern Hemisphere. Happy Equinox!

SUPER FULL MOON: The super full Moon of March 19th was the biggest and closest full Moon of the past 18 years. It might also be the most photographed full Moon--ever. Photographers around the world lined up to take pictures like this:

"I've been planning this shot for a long time," says Paco Bellido of Cordoba, Spain. "Using Google Earth, I calculated the best place to set up my camera; then I followed my GPS to the spot. I waited for the Super Moon to rise and--voilá!--there it was behind Espejo's Castle." has been inundated by fine pictures like Bellido's. Browse the links for selected moonshots: from Peter Scott of Joss Bay, Kent, England; from Amirreza Kamkar of Qayen, Khorasan, Iran; from Andrew Greenwood of Kerridge Ridge, England; from Stephan Heinsius of Bad Soden, Germany; from Azhy Hasan of Arbil city, Kurdistan, Iraq; from Daisuke Tomiyasu of Higashinada, Kobe, Japan; from Marek Nikodem of Szubin, Poland; from Jan Koeman of Neeltje Jans, the Netherlands; from Ole Ambrosiussen of Hørbylunde bakke, Silkeborg, Denmark; from Fredrik Broms of Kvaløya, Norway; from Francisco Diego of London, England; from Jens Hackmann of Weikersheim, Germany; from Mahdi Zamani of Tehran, Iran; from Marco Langbroek of Leiden, the Netherlands; from Gregory Scheckler of North Adams, Massachusetts; from Miguel Claro of Cabo Espichel, Sesimbra, Portugal; from Peter Rosén of Central Stockholm, Sweden; from Kevin Palmer of Lindenhurst, Illinois; from Jonathan Sabin of St. Petersburg, Florida; from Bryan Hansel of Grand Marais, Minnesot

ICONIC ERUPTION: A huge filament of magnetism and hot plasma blasted off the sun's southwestern limb on March 19th around 1200 UT. NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory recorded the action:

Click to view a full-disk, high-resolution image

The eruption was not Earth-directed, but it did attract plenty of attention on our planet. Many amateur astronomers in Europe witnessed the blast and said it was the biggest one they'd ever seen. This event continues the recent trend of increasing solar activity, and shows anew that Solar Cycle 24 is gaining steam after a long period of relative quiet.

more images: from P-M Hedén of Vallentuna, Sweden; from Sebastien Kersten of Le Cocq, Belgium; from Steve Wainwright of Gower S.Wales UK; from Strikis Iakovos - Marios of Athens Greece; from Günther Strauch of Borken, NRW, Germany; from Peter Desypris of Athens,Greece; from Emiel Veldhuis of Zwolle, the Netherlands; from Mark Townley of Brierley Hill, West Midlands; from Martin Titheradge of Essex, England

March 2011 Aurora Photo Gallery
[previous Marches: 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, 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 20, 2011 there were 1204 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Recent & Upcoming Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
2011 EB74
Mar 16
0.9 LD
18 m
2011 BE38
Apr 10
48 LD
1.0 km
2002 DB4
Apr 15
62.5 LD
2.2 km
2008 UC202
Apr 27
8.9 LD
10 m
2009 UK20
May 2
8.6 LD
23 m
2008 FU6
May 5
75.5 LD
1.2 km
2003 YT1
May 5
65.3 LD
2.5 km
2002 JC
Jun 1
57.5 LD
1.6 km
2009 BD
Jun 2
0.9 LD
9 m
2002 JB9
Jun 11
71.5 LD
3.2 km
2001 VH75
Jun 12
42.2 LD
1.1 km
2004 LO2
Jun 15
9.9 LD
48 m
2001 QP181
Jul 2
35.1 LD
1.1 km
2003 YS117
Jul 14
73.9 LD
1.0 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
Conquest Graphics
  for out-of-this-world printing and graphics
Science Central
  more links...
©2010 All rights reserved. This site is penned daily by Dr. Tony Phillips.
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