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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Current conditions
Solar wind
speed: 353.2 km/sec
density: 2.0 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2344 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: B1
1810 UT Feb23
24-hr: B1
1250 UT Feb23
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2340 UT
Daily Sun: 23 Feb. 10
Quiet sunspot 1049 poses no threat for strong solar flares. Image credit: SOHO/MDI
Sunspot number: 14
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 22 Feb 2010

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 0 days
2010 total: 2 days (4%)
2009 total: 260 days (71%)
Since 2004: 772 days
Typical Solar Min: 485 days
explanation | more info
Updated 22 Feb 2010

The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 84 sfu
explanation | more data
Updated 22 Feb 2010

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: 5.0 nT
Bz: 0.7 nT south
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2345 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 Feb 23 2201 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
01 %
01 %
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 Feb 23 2201 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
05 %
05 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
05 %
05 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
What's up in Space
February 23, 2010

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


GREAT FILAMENT: The Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) is tracking an enormous magnetic filament on the sun. It stretches more than one million kilometers from end to end, which makes it an easy target for backyard solar telescopes. Readers with iPhones can inspect the filament in 3D. (Hint: In the app, tap the "Wavelengths" tab and select the orange sun.)

BEAUTIFUL ENDEAVOUR: Shuttle launches have a reputation for great beauty. The view after a landing isn't bad either. Dr. Mark Staples sends this picture from the runway at Kennedy Space Center just after Endeavour returned to Earth on Sunday night:

"I am part of the medical team of paramedics, decontamination specialists, firemen, nurses and physicians on hand to assist the astronauts and others in case of disaster," says Staples. "We're always glad we are not needed and thank the tremendous shuttle work force and team and crew for a job well done."

Take a look at this shot. "That's a view you only want to see on a runway!" says Staples.

The next shuttle mission to the International Space Station is just around the corner. If all goes according to plan, Discovery will blast off on April 5th at 6:27 am EDT. The pre-dawn launch should be spectacular--and the view from the runway when Discovery returns 13 days later won't be bad either. Stay tuned for coverage.

AURORAL ROAR: Listen to this. The sounds you just heard came from the loudspeaker of a radio receiver tuned to 2.7 MHz during a display of Northern Lights. "We call it 'auroral roar'," says Prof. Jim LaBelle of Dartmouth College. "It's a natural radio emission caused by a cyclotron resonance between auroral electrons and plasma waves in Earth's ionosphere."

On Feb. 16th, LaBelle and colleagues launched a Black Brant XII sounding rocket from the Poker Flat Research Range in Alaska to study the process in action:

Dartmouth graduate student Micah Dombrowski took the picture. "We flew into some of the best auroras seen in years," he says.

The mission, named "CHARM II," short for Correlation of High-Frequencies and Auroral Roar Measurements, is a collaboration between Dartmouth College, the University of Iowa, and the French National Center for Scientific Research. It aims to decipher the mysteries of auroral roar and related phenomena "using the ionosphere as a natural laboratory for studying electron beam-plasma interactions," says Labelle.

"Preliminary inspection of the data says that the mission was a great success," adds Dombrowski. "Now I have a lot of data to reduce! Many thanks to the NASA NSROC, NEMS, and PFRR teams--and to Nature for such a great show!"

February Northern Lights Gallery
[previous Februarys: 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 February 23, 2010 there were 1103 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Feb. 2010 Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
2009 UN3
Feb. 9
14.3 LD
1.2 km
2010 CK19
Feb. 17
0.9 LD
11 m
2001 FD58
Feb. 19
58.5 LD
0.9 km
2010 CJ18
Feb. 19
3.3 LD
20 m
2002 EZ11
Feb. 24
77.5 LD
1.0 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 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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