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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Solar wind
speed: 651.1 km/sec
density: 0.1 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2346 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: C1
1738 UT Mar16
24-hr: C1
1738 UT Mar16
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2300 UT
Daily Sun: 16 Mar 12
Solar activity should sharply drop for at least a couple of days now that big sunspot AR1429 has rotated off the Earth-facing side of the sun. Credit: SDO/HMI
Sunspot number: 85
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 15 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 15 Mar 2012

The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 111 sfu
explanation | more data
Updated 15 Mar 2012

Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
Planetary K-index
Now: Kp= 3 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 4
explanation | more data
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 5.1 nT
Bz: 1.7 nT south
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2346 UT
Coronal Holes: 16 Mar 12
A solar wind stream flowing from this coronal hole could reach Earth on March 18-19. Credit: SDO/AIA.
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2012 Mar 16 2200 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
50 %
50 %
10 %
10 %
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 16 2200 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
15 %
40 %
05 %
20 %
01 %
05 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
15 %
15 %
20 %
20 %
20 %
25 %
Friday, Mar. 16, 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

GROWING QUIET: A sharp drop in solar activity is expected now that sunspot AR1429 has rotated onto the far side of the sun. No major flares are in the offing this weekend.

CME IMPACT: As expected, the flank of a CME hit Earth's magnetic field on March 15th around 1300 UT. The impact sparked a moderate (Kp=6) geomagnetic storm with perfect timing for sky watchers in New Zealand. "The CME arrived at 2 o'clock in the morning here in Queenstown," says photographer Minoru Yoneto. In the dark, he drove to his favorite spot on a mountain overlooking the city and recorded the storm:

"The auroras danced until sunrise," says Yoneto.

The CME also sparked aurora australis over Antarctica. "Our overwintering at the German Antarctic Research Station Neumayer III has just begun," reports Stefan Christmann. "We were watching a movie when, all of a sudden, our meteorologist coes in with the news. We rushed outside and experienced our first auroras of the season with green and red lights dancing across the moonlit sky."

The storm is subsiding now. Nevertheless, high-latitude sky watchers should remain alert for auroras as the wake of the CME continues to buffet Earth's magnetic field. Aurora alerts: text, phone.

more images: from Andrei Penescu of Kangerlussuaq, Greenland; from Iurie Belegurschi of Þingvellir National Park, Iceland; from Brian Whittaker flying 36,000 feet over Greenland; from Göran Strand of Östersund, Sweden; from Brandon Lovett of Fairbanks, Alaska; from Petra Martinkovicova of Thingvellir National Park, Iceland; from Dirk Obudzinski of Cleary Summit, Alaska; from Travis Novitsky of Grand Portage, MN; from Lance Parrish of Skiland, Alaska; from Matt Melnyk of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada; from Lars Poort of Nuuk, Greenland;

SUNSET CONJUNCTION: When the sun goes down tonight, step outside and look west. Venus and Jupiter are beaming through the twilight less than 4o apart. Sky watchers of all ages, and species, are enjoying the show:

"I was out last night walking the dogs," explains photographer Robert Hanelt of Santa Fe, New Mexico. "We just had to stop to admire the planets."

Observing tip: Try to catch the duo before the sky fades completely black. Venus and Jupiter surrounded by twilight blue is a barking-good sight.

more images: from Neal Brown north of Cold Foot, Alaska; from Raghunathan Krishnarao of Chennai, India; from Darrell Spangler of Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado;

COMET, DELETED: Sungrazing Comet SWAN, which dove into the sun's atmosphere during the late hours of March 14th, apparently did not survive. In the following 10 hour movie, Comet SWAN enters the solar corona but does not exit again:

Comet SWAN was a Kreutz sungrazer, a fragment of the same ancient comet that produced sungrazing Comet Lovejoy in Dec. 2011. Comet Lovejoy famously survived its brush with the sun and put on a flamboyant show after it emerged from the solar fire. While Comet SWAN was cut from the same cloth, it was a smaller fragment that has completely evaporated.

The CME emerging from the sun's northwestern limb near the end of the movie was not caused by this tiny comet's impact. It is just another eruption of active sunspot 1429.

Stay tuned to comet expert Karl Battam's blog for updates.

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 16, 2012 there were 1287 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Recent & Upcoming Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
2012 EM5
Mar 12
5.6 LD
37 m
2012 EJ5
Mar 13
5.5 LD
13 m
1999 RD32
Mar 14
57.9 LD
2.4 km
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 EO8
Mar 21
3.6 LD
60 m
2012 EK5
Mar 22
5.8 LD
33 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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