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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Solar wind
speed: 322.6 km/sec
density: 0.2 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2345 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: M4
1828 UT Mar08
24-hr: M5
1044 UT Mar08
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2300 UT
Daily Sun: 08 Mar 11
Sunspots 1164, 1165, and 1166 all have delta-class magnetic fields that harbor energy for X-class flares. Credit: SDO/HMI
Sunspot number: 122
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 07 Mar 2011

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 0 days
2011 total: 1 day (2%)
2010 total: 51 days (14%)
2009 total: 260 days (71%)
Since 2004: 820 days
Typical Solar Min: 486 days

Updated 07 Mar 2011

The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 153 sfu
explanation | more data
Updated 07 Mar 2011

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: 4.7 nT
Bz: 3.9 nT south
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2346 UT
Coronal Holes: 08 Mar 11
A solar wind stream flowing from the indicated coronal hole is likely to brush past Earth's magnetic field on or about March 13th. Credit: SDO/AIA.
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2011 Mar 08 2200 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
75 %
50 %
10 %
05 %
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 08 2200 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
30 %
30 %
20 %
20 %
05 %
05 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
40 %
35 %
25 %
25 %
10 %
10 %
Tuesday, Mar. 8, 2011
What's up in space

Metallic photos of the sun by renowned photographer Greg Piepol bring together the best of art and science. Buy one or a whole set. They make a stellar gift.

Metallic pictures of the Sun

FAST CORONAL MASS EJECTION: A coronal mass ejection (CME) exploded from the vicinity of sunspot 1164 during the late hours of March 7th. It lept away from the sun traveling some 2200 km/s, making it the fastest CME since Sept. 2005. A movie of the cloud prepared by Karl Battams of the Naval Research Lab seems to show a small but non-negligible Earth-directed component. This CME and at least one other could brush against Earth's magnetic field on March 9th or 10th. High-latitude sky watchers should be alert for auroras.

SUNSPOT CONJUNCTION: Yesterday, shortly after space shuttle Discovery undocked from the International Space Station, the two ships flew directly in front of the sun over Europe. Catalin Fus of Krakow, Poland, had his solar-filtered telescope trained on sunspot 1166 and recorded this amazing conjunction:

"I was surprised that I could see Discovery flying around the station," says Fus. "The shuttle is so small compared to the ISS." Nevertheless, both silhouettes were clearly visible alongside the sunspot. This was Fus's last chance to see Discovery before the shuttle is retired post-landing on March 9th. What a way to say goodbye.

more transit images: from Jérôme DELPAU of Coemont, Sarthe, France; from Jan Eric Krikke of Heerenveen, The Netherlands; from Pawel Warchal of Cracow, Poland.

DOUBLE FLYBY ALERT: Space shuttle Discovery undocked from the International Space Station on Monday, March 7th, setting the stage for a series of spectacular double flybys. Traveling side by side, the shuttle and station are flying over parts of the USA and Europe where sky watchers can see them shining brightly in the night sky. Jerry Lodriguss sends this picture of the pair from Voorhees, New Jersey:

"Discovery and the ISS passed over New Jersey at 19:00:17 pm ET on March 7th," says Lodriguss. "The shuttle was the fainter of the two, but both were very bright, with Discovery leading the ISS by about 15 seconds."

Flybys like this will continue until Discovery lands on Wednesday, March 9th. Check the Simple Satellite Tracker or your smartphone to find out when to look.

more images: from Tamas Ladanyi of Bakonybel, Hungary; from Marek Nikodem of Szubin, near Bydgoszcz, Poland; from Raymond Kneip of Luxembourg; from Paul Willows of Clifton, Doncaster, UK; from Fabio Rezzonico of Richterswil (Zürich), Switzerland; from Sylvain Weiller of Saint Rémy lès Chevreuse, France; from Edwin Kessler of Millersburg, Pennsylvania; from Radekter of Zdetin, Czech Rep.; from Jin Lu of Tempe, AZ; from Megan O'Leary of Harwich, MA; from Louis Suarato of Albany, New York; from Joe Ricci of Rochester, New York; from Alex Free of Mount Vernon, Washington; from Marko Posavec of Koprivnica, Croatia; from Mark Brunschweiger of Oswego NY; from Geoff Chester of Alexandria, Virginia; from John Sachs of Hanover PA; from Darren Baskill of Rottingdean, East Sussex, England; from Ludek Fik of Kojetin, Czech Republic; from Monika Landy-Gyebnar of Veszprem, Hungary

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 8, 2011 there were 1204 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Recent & Upcoming Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
2011 EC
Mar 6
9.2 LD
34 m
2011 EO11
Mar 6
1.8 LD
15 m
2011 EY11
Mar 7
0.3 LD
9 m
2011 EC12
Mar 8
3.3 LD
28 m
2000 PN9
Mar 10
45.5 LD
2.6 km
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
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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