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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Solar wind
speed: 426.3 km/sec
density: 0.9 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2344 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: B3
2017 UT Mar20
24-hr: B4
1454 UT Mar20
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2300 UT
Daily Sun: 20 Mar 12
All of these sunspots are quiet. No strong flares are in the offing. Credit: SDO/HMI
Sunspot number: 58
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 19 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 19 Mar 2012

The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 102 sfu
explanation | more data
Updated 19 Mar 2012

Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
Planetary K-index
Now: Kp= 1 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 2
explanation | more data
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 2.7 nT
Bz: 0.8 nT north
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2347 UT
Coronal Holes: 20 Mar 12
There are no large coronal holes on the Earthside of the sun. Credit: SDO/AIA.
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2012 Mar 20 2200 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
05 %
05 %
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 20 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 %
20 %
05 %
10 %
Tuesday, Mar. 20, 2012
What's up in space

Listen to radar echoes from satellites and meteors, live on listener-supported Space Weather Radio.

Spaceweather Radio is on the air

ELECTRON STORM: The number of energetic electrons in Earth's outer radiation belt is significantly elevated. According to analysts at the Goddard Space Weather Lab, the enhancement is caused by the aftermath of recent geomagnetic storms mixed with a high-speed solar wind stream. "Spacecraft at GEO, MEO and other orbits passing through or in the vicinity of the Earth's outer radiation belt can be impacted," they say.

FIRST DAY OF NORTHERN SPRING: The seasons are changing. Today, March 20th, the sun crossed the celestial equator heading north. This marks the beginning of Spring in the northern hemisphere and Autumn in the southern hemisphere. At this time of year, day and night are of nearly equal length, hence the name "equinox" (equal night).

Good news for sky watchers: Spring is aurora season. For reasons not fully understood by researchers, the weeks around equinoxes are prone to Northern Lights. "With the exception of one cloudy night we have now seen the auroras 16 nights in a row," reports aurora tour guide Chad Blakley from the Abisko National Park in Sweden. "What a season!" He snapped this picture on March 19th:

"I combined some of the photos to make a time-lapse movie," says Blakley. "It was another great night in Abisko!"

NOAA forecasters estimate a 20% chance of polar geomagnetic storms tonight. The odds of auroras, however, might be even better. Happy Equinox! Aurora alerts: text, phone.

more images: from Nenne Åman of Arjeplog, Sweden; from Dirk Obudzinski of Steese National Conservation Area, Alaska; from B.Art Braafhart of Salla, Finnish Lapland; from Larry Jenkins of Labrador City, NL Canada; from Jónína Óskarsdóttir of Faskrudsfjordur, Iceland; from Peter Scott of Durness, Scotland, UK; from Francis Anderson of Tuktoyaktuk, Northwest Territories Canada;

TRANSITIONS: So much can change in a single moment. This morning in Veszprem, Hungary, Monika Landy-Gyebnar photographed the sun as it moved across the celestial equator, suddenly transforming winter to spring:

"Spring began at 05:14 UT today, which happened some minutes after today's sunnrise," she explains. "I photographed the sun during these moments and caught the change of seasons. I was lucky as clouds came soon after."

more springshots: from John Stetson of Falmouth, Maine;

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 20, 2012 there were 1287 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Recent & Upcoming Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
2012 EN5
Mar 15
1.4 LD
15 m
2012 EL8
Mar 16
7.3 LD
10 m
2011 YU62
Mar 16
73.4 LD
1.3 km
2012 FM
Mar 18
8.2 LD
26 m
2012 EO8
Mar 21
3.6 LD
58 m
2012 EK5
Mar 22
5.8 LD
34 m
2012 EG5
Apr 1
0.6 LD
62 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
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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