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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

velocity: 694.1 km/s
7.6 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2247 UT

X-ray Solar Flares

6-hr max:
C3 1950 UT Mar31
24-hr: M2 1110 UT Mar31
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2250 UT

Daily Sun: 31 Mar '01
The large sunspot group 9393 exhibits a delta magnetic field that likely harbors energy for X-class solar flares. Sunspot groups 9397 and 9401, each with a beta-gamma magnetic field, are also threats for M-class flares.

Sunspot Number: 349
More about sunspots
Updated: 30 Mar 2001

Radio Meteor Rate
24 hr max:
29 per hr
Listen to the Meteor Radar!
Updated: 30 Mar 2001

Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 29.1 nT
1.2 nT north
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2247 UT

Coronal Holes:

A small coronal hole is developing east of active region 9393. It could send a solar wind gust toward Earth when it crosses the Sun's central meridian in a few days. Image credit: SOHO Extreme UV Telescope.
More about coronal holes


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 2001 Mar 31 2200 UT

FLARE 24 hr 48 hr
CLASS M 80 % 80 %
CLASS X 35 % 35 %

Geomagnetic Storms: Probabilities for significant disturbances in Earth's magnetic field are given for three activity levels: active, minor storm, severe storm
Updated at 2001 Mar 31 2200 UT

24 hr 48 hr
ACTIVE 20 % 50 %
MINOR 25 % 10 %
SEVERE 35 % 15 %

High latitudes
24 hr 48 hr
ACTIVE 27 % 27 %
MINOR 30 % 30 %
SEVERE 25 % 15 %

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What's Up in Space -- 31 Mar 2001
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GEOSTORM: A powerful geomagnetic storm is in progress after a coronal mass ejection struck Earth's magnetosphere early March 31st (see below). Northern-hemisphere sky watchers as far south as Mexico reported seeing "blood red skies" during the hours around local midnight on Friday. Here in Bishop, CA, (home of we enjoyed hours of brilliant red and green shimmering auroras. [aurora photos]

The storm has not yet abated. Sky watchers living above ~40 deg. geomagnetic latitude (this includes nearly all of the continental United States) should remain alert for auroras tonight. [NOAA geomagnetic latitude maps: North America, Eurasia, South Africa & Australia, South America]

Above: The Kp index, a measure of global geomagnetic activity, soared to storm levels on March 31st.

IMPACT! An interplanetary shock wave passed NASA's ACE spacecraft at 0030 UT on March 31st (7:30 pm EST on March 30th) and struck Earth's magnetosphere about 30 minutes later. The leading edge of the shock front was dense (~150 protons/cc) and strongly magnetized -- traits that give rise to powerful geomagnetic disturbances.

The March 31st shock wave might have been the first of two coronal mass ejections (CMEs) that left the Sun earlier this week -- or perhaps a cannibalistic combination of the two. The pair of CMEs were hurled into space by explosions near the giant sunspot 9393 on Wednesday and Thursday. Thursday's X-class eruption also triggered a day-long S1-class proton storm around our planet.

GIANT SUNSPOT: Sunspot 9393 covers an area of the solar disk equivalent to the combined surface area of 13 planet Earths. That makes it the largest sunspot of the current solar cycle. You can see this huge spot for yourself, but be careful: Looking directly at the Sun can cause permanent eye damage. Click to learn more about safe solar observing.


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 are on a collision course with our planet, although astronomers are finding new ones all the time. [more]

On 31 Mar 2001 there were 298 known Potentially
Hazardous Asteroids

ASTEROIDS GALORE: March has been a good month for asteroid hunters. Since March 21st astronomers have spotted six Earth-approaching space rocks (click to view 3D orbits): 2001 FE90, 2001 FB90, 2001 FD58, 2001 FC58, 2001 FA58 and 2001 FO32. There is no danger of a collision with any of these asteroids.

Earth-asteroid encounters (Mar 1 - Apr 30)


 Date (UTC)

 Miss Distance
2001 FC58  2001-Mar-18 20:38

 0.1173 AU
2001 EC16  2001-Mar-23 16:00

 0.0113 AU
2001 FO32  2001-Mar-28 19:47

 0.1670 AU
1998 SF36  2001-Mar-29 18:37

 0.0383 AU
2001 FA58  2001-Apr-02 07:56

 0.1128 AU
1986 PA  2001-Apr-03 01:06

 0.1465 AU
2000 EE104  2001-Apr-12 20:37

 0.0822 AU

  • TOTAL LUNAR ECLIPSE: On Jan. 9, 2001, the full Moon glided through Earth's copper-colored shadow. [gallery]
  • CHRISTMAS ECLIPSE: Sky watchers across North America enjoyed a partial solar eclipse on Christmas Day 2000 [gallery]
  • LEONIDS 2000: Observers around the globe enjoyed three predicted episodes of shooting stars. [gallery]

Feb. 21, 2001: Nature's Tiniest Space Junk -- Using an experimental radar at the Marshall Space Flight Center, scientists are monitoring tiny but hazardous meteoroids that swarm around our planet.

Feb. 15, 2001: The Sun Does a Flip -- NASA scientists who monitor the Sun say our star's enormous magnetic field is reversing -- a sure sign that solar maximum is here.

Jan. 25, 2001: Earth's Invisible Magnetic Tail -- NASA's IMAGE spacecraft, the first to enjoy a global view of the magnetosphere, spotted a curious plasma tail pointing from Earth toward the Sun.

Jan. 4, 2001: Earth at Perihelion -- On January 4, 2001, our planet made its annual closest approach to the Sun.

Dec. 29, 2000: Millennium Meteors -- North Americans will have a front-row seat for a brief but powerful meteor shower on January 3, 2001.

Dec. 28, 2000: Galileo Looks for Auroras on Ganymede -- NASA's durable Galileo spacecraft flew above the solar system's largest moon this morning in search of extraterrestrial "Northern Lights"

Dec. 22, 2000: Watching the Angry Sun -- Solar physicists are enjoying their best-ever look at a Solar Maximum thanks to NOAA and NASA satellites.

MORE SPACE WEATHER HEADLINES is sponsored in part by Ask Dr. Tech.

Caveat Emptor: Space weather forecasts that appear on this site are based in part on data from NASA and NOAA satellites and ground-monitoring stations. Predictions and explanations are formulated by Dr. Tony Phillips; they are not official statements of any government organ or guarantees of space weather activity.

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.

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.

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

The Latest Space Weather Values -- from the NOAA Space Environment Center.

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.

Real-time Solar Wind Data -- from NASA's ACE spacecraft.

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

Aurora Forecast --from the University of Alaska's Geophysical Institute

Daily Solar Flare and Sunspot Data -- from the NOAA Space Environment Center.

Lists of Coronal Mass Ejections -- from 1998 to 2001.

NOAA geomagnetic latitude maps: North America, Eurasia, South Africa & Australia, South America

Quarterly Solar Flare and Sunspot Data: January - March 2000 -- from the NOAA Space Environment Center.

Quarterly Solar Flare and Sunspot Data: April - June 2000 -- from the NOAA Space Environment Center.

Quarterly Solar Flare and Sunspot Data: July - Sept 2000 -- from the NOAA Space Environment Center.

Quarterly Solar Flare and Sunspot Data: Oct. - Dec. 2000 -- from the NOAA Space Environment Center.


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