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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Solar wind
speed: 455.2 km/sec
density: 0.6 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2339 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: C9
1706 UT Mar24
24-hr: M1
1207 UT Mar24
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2300 UT
Daily Sun: 24 Mar 11
NOAA forecasters estimate a 30% chance of M-class solar flares from sunspot AR1176 today. Credit: SDO/HMI
Sunspot number: 46
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 23 Mar 2011

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

Updated 23 Mar 2011

The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 105 sfu
explanation | more data
Updated 23 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: 5.7 nT
Bz: 2.3 nT north
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2346 UT
Coronal Holes: 24 Mar 11
Earth is inside a solar wind stream flowing from the indicated coronal hole. Credit: SDO/AIA.
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2011 Mar 24 2200 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
40 %
40 %
05 %
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 24 2200 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
10 %
10 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
15 %
15 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
Thursday, Mar. 24, 2011
What's up in space

Turn your cell phone into a field-tested satellite tracker. Works for Android and iPhone.

Satellite flybys

NORTHERN LIGHTS VIDEO: Oh to be in Norway! Norwegian photographer Ole C. Salomonsen has sorted through more than 50,000 images of the aurora borealis he took during the past six months and assembled the best ones to create a must-see video entitled Land of the Northern Lights. Click here to watch--and then call your travel agent.

SPACE STATION TRANSIT: The sunspot number briefly doubled yesterday (March 23rd) when a spaceship-shaped silhouette flitted across the sun. Anthony Ayiomamitis of Athens, Greece, photographed the transit:

"The International Space Station (ISS) just grazed the solar disk," says Ayiomamitis. "At a range of only 481 km, the ISS looked almost as large as sunspot 1176."

Appearances can be deceiving: Sunspot 1176 spans more than 75,000 km, about six times wider than the entire planet Earth. The ISS, on the other hand, is only 109 meters wide, little more than a footfall field. It was an impressive transit nevertheless.

The sunspot number is back to normal in Athens, but it could be set to double again elsewhere. Check Calsky to find out when the ISS will transit the sun over your hometown.

SQUARE SUPER MOON: Like so many other people around the world, James Helmericks of Alaska went outside on the evening of March 19th to watch the super perigee Moon rise in the east. "Imagine my surprise," he says, "when I saw that it was almost square." He took this picture from the Colville River Delta on Alaska's north slope:

Atmospheric optics expert Les Cowley explains what happened: "This is a very strong mirage produced by rays bent while crossing intense vertical temperature gradients between a layer of cold air beneath warmer air. The lunar disk details are vertically stretched, suggesting that the mirage is part of a fabled Fata Morgana. If we could see distant mountains they would likely be distorted into fantastical vertically elongated shapes resembling castles and tall spires. The high Arctic is famous for these mirages."

more super moonshots: from Peter Rosén of Central Stockholm, Sweden; from Göran Strand of Rörvattnet, Sweden; from Ron Wayman of Tampa Florida; from Guillaume Cannat of Palavas-les-Flots, France; from Rory Glasgow of Huntsville, Texas; from Phil Harrington of Fire Island, New York; from Megan O'Leary of East Sandwich, MA; from Zakaria Hamdi of Djedeida, Debila, Eloued, Algeria; from P-M Hedén of Vallentuna, Sweden; from Jacob Kuiper of Steenwijk, The Netherlands; from Bader Eddine Hamdi of Djedeida, Debila, Eloued, Algeria; from Kendall Gelner of Denver, Colorado; from Miguel Claro of Cabo Espichel, Sesimbra, Portugal.

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 24, 2011 there were 1215 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Recent & Upcoming Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
2011 EB74
Mar 16
0.9 LD
18 m
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
2001 QP181
Jul 2
35.1 LD
1.1 km
2003 YS117
Jul 14
73.9 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 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...
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