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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Current conditions
Solar wind
speed: 361.3 km/sec
density: 1.1 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2345 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: B2
2150 UT Mar15
24-hr: B4
1155 UT Mar15
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2340 UT
Daily Sun: 15 Mar. 10
Sunspot 1054 has a "beta-gamma" magnetic field that harbors energy for C- and possibly M-class solar flares. Credit: SOHO
Sunspot number: 30
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 14 Mar 2010

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 0 days
2010 total: 6 days (8%)
2009 total: 260 days (71%)
Since 2004: 776 days
Typical Solar Min: 485 days
explanation | more info
Updated 14 Mar 2010

The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 89 sfu
explanation | more data
Updated 14 Mar 2010

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: 4.4 nT
Bz: 0.1 nT north
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2346 UT
Coronal Holes:
There are no large coronal holes on the Earth-facing side of the sun. Credit: SOHO Extreme UV Telescope
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2010 Mar 15 2201 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
10 %
10 %
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: 2010 Mar 15 2201 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
30 %
25 %
10 %
10 %
05 %
05 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
30 %
25 %
15 %
15 %
05 %
05 %
What's up in Space
March 15, 2010

NEW AND IMPROVED: Turn your iPhone or iPod Touch into a field-tested global satellite tracker. The Satellite Flybys app now works in all countries.


ANOTHER SURPRISE FROM THE SUN: A massive "current of fire" on the sun has started running at high speed, surprising researchers and challenging some models of the solar cycle. Get the full story from Science@NASA.

NORTHERN LIGHTS: Statistically speaking, March is the most geomagnetically active month of the year; October is a close second. Although the reasons why are not fully understood, there is no doubt that equinoxes favor auroras. Just look at the sky this morning over Tromsø, Norway:

"It was a sudden and stunning outburst of activity," says photographer Thomas Hagen. "The auroras were so bright, they turned the water green."

This could be just the beginning of a really terrific display on March 16th and 17th. That's when a solar coronal mass ejection (CME, movie) is due to hit Earth's magnetic field. NOAA forecasters estimate a 30% chance of geomagnetic activity and a 5% chance of severe geomagnetic storms. Sky watchers in Alaska, Canada, Scandinavia, and northern-tier US states such as Minnesota and Wisconsin should be alert for auroras.

UPDATED: March Northern Lights Gallery
[previous Marches: 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004, 2003]

BIG SUNSPOT: Sunspot 1054 is so big, you can see it without a telescope. All you really need is a bank of thick clouds. Yesterday in Lusby, Maryland, a dark cloud drifted across the sun and "there was the sunspot!" reports Neil Winston. "I grabbed my camera and snapped this picture."

Photo details: Canon Rebel XSi, 300mm telephoto lens, 1/4000s

Readers, beware. While it is possible to see sunspot 1054 with the naked eye, staring at the sun is dangerous even when dimmed by clouds. A sudden gap in the cumulous, a lance of intense sunlight, and--presto!--you're blinking in pain. Photographing low or cloudy suns with a digital camera can be safe as long as you do not look directly through the viewfinder; Winston's photo is a good example. Your best bet, however, is a safely-filtered solar telescope. Click on the links below to see what proper optics can do.

more images: from Peter Paice of Belfast, Northern Ireland; from Pete Lawrence of Selsey, West Sussex, UK; from Athanasios Georgiou of Filyro, Thessaloniki, Greece; from John Nassr of Baguio, Philippines; from Steve Riegel of Santa Maria, CA; from Jimmy Eubanks of Boiling Springs, SC; from Gianni Pasquali of Cimone, Trentino, Italy; from Fabio Mariuzza of Biauzzo - Italy; from Keith Davies of Swansea, South Wales, United Kingdom

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 15, 2010 there were 1105 potentially hazardous asteroids.
March 2010 Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
2001 PT9
March 3
11.1 LD
305 m
4486 Mithra
March 12
73.5 LD
3.3 km
2001 FM129
March 13
44.1 LD
1.5 km
2002 TE66
March 28
48.0 LD
940 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 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 and Heliospheric Observatory
  Realtime and archival images of the Sun from SOHO.
  3D views of the sun from NASA's Solar and Terrestrial Relations Observatory
Daily Sunspot Summaries
  from the NOAA Space Environment Center
Current Solar Images
  from the National Solar Data Analysis Center
Science Central
  more links...
©2008, -- This site is penned daily by Dr. Tony Phillips.













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