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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Current conditions
Solar wind
speed: 477.2 km/sec
density: 2.2 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2345 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A0
2340 UT Mar25
24-hr: A0
2340 UT Mar25
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2340 UT
Daily Sun: 25 Mar 09
The sun is blank--no sunspots. Credit: SOHO/MDI
Sunspot number: 0
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 24 Mar. 2009
Far side of the Sun:
This holographic image reveals no sunspots on the far side of the sun. Image credit: SOHO/MDI
Planetary K-index
Now: Kp= 1 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 4
explanation | more data
Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
What is the auroral oval?
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 3.8 nT
Bz: 1.1 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: 2009 Mar 25 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: 2009 Mar 25 2201 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
10 %
10 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
20 %
15 %
05 %
05 %
01 %
01 %
What's up in Space
March 25, 2009

AURORA ALERT: Did you sleep through the Northern Lights? Next time get a wake-up call: Spaceweather PHONE.


DOUBLE FLYBY ALERT: Having delivered and deployed the International Space Station's shiny new solar wings, the crew of shuttle Discovery undocked their spaceship from the ISS this afternoon at 3:54 p.m. EDT. Thus separated, she ISS and Discovery now form a bright "double star" in the night sky. Check the Simple Satellite Tracker to see if you are favored with a flyby before Discovery lands on Saturday, March 28th.

SIGNS OF SPRING: What are the signs of spring? They are as familiar as a blooming Daffodil, a songbird at dawn, a surprising shaft of warmth from the afternoon sun. And, oh yes, don't forget the aurora borealis:

"I went to Nome on March 21st to shoot the finish of the Iditarod," says Alaska photographer Daryl Pederson. "At this time of year you can almost bank on some Northern Lights--and there they were! The foreground is an old gold dredge, one of many that dot the landscape in the area."

Why "this time of year"? For reasons not fully understood, auroras love equinoxes (proof) and the Arctic Circle has been alive with Northern Lights since the beginning of Spring on March 20th. Browse the gallery for pictures of the ongoing display:

UPDATED: March 2009 Aurora Gallery
[previous Marches: 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002]

SLIVERS OF VENUS: Venus is moving almost directly between Earth and the sun and, en route, turning its night side toward Earth. Only a thin sliver of reflected sunshine is now visible along the planet's cloudy limb. Joe Ricci of Rochester, New York took this picture in broad daylight on March 24th:

Photo details: Canon PowerShot SD750, 12.5-inch Cave Astrola telescope

"Venus was only 9.7° from the Sun and 1.4% illuminated," says Ricci. "The 'rough edges' of the crescent are caused by poor seeing--turbulence in the atmosphere over Rochester."

Venus makes its closest approach to the sun (just 8 degrees away) on Friday, March 27th. On that date, the luminous crescent will almost completely circumscribe the planet. The best time to look is during the day while the sun and Venus are high in the sky--but be careful! Do not let your telescope stray across the sun. Venus is beautiful, but you wouldn't want it to be the last thing you ever see.

more images: from Elias Chasiotis of Markopoulo, Greece; from Günther Strauch of Borken, NRW, Germany; from Peter von Bagh of Porvoo, Finland; from Jimmy Westlake of Mauna Kea, Hawaii; from Gary A. Becker of Coopersburg, PA; from Denis Joye of Boulogne, France; from Mohammad Soltanolkottabi of Esfahan, Iran; from Doug Zubenel of Cedar Creek, Kansas; from Becky Ramotowski of Tijeras, New Mexico; from Josef Laufer of Wuerzburg, Germany;

Comet Lulin Photo Gallery
[Comet Hunter Telescope: review] [Comet Lulin finder chart]

Explore the Sunspot Cycle

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 25, 2009 there were 1048 potentially hazardous asteroids.
March 2009 Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
2009 DS43
Mar. 1
6.9 LD
32 m
2009 DD45
Mar. 2
0.2 LD
35 m
2009 DN4
Mar. 3
8.1 LD
27 m
2009 EA
Mar. 4
7.4 LD
24 m
2009 EW
Mar. 6
0.9 LD
23 m
161989 Cacus
Mar. 7
70.5 LD
1.7 km
2009 EH1
Mar. 8
1.6 LD
12 m
2009 ET
Mar. 9
9.5 LD
15 m
2009 DV43
Mar. 10
8.5 LD
80 m
2009 EU
Mar. 11
3.5 LD
21 m
1998 OR2
Mar. 12
69.8 LD
3.3 km
2009 DR3
Mar. 14
7.2 LD
225 m
2009 FR
Mar. 16
6.7 LD
22 m
2009 FJ
Mar. 16
4.9 LD
46 m
2009 FW4
Mar. 17
2.8 LD
53 m
2009 FH
Mar. 18
0.2 LD
21 m
2009 FK
Mar. 19
1.0 LD
9 m
2009 DO111
Mar. 20
1.2 LD
117 m
2009 FX4
Mar. 23
6.1 LD
37 m
2009 FD
Mar. 27
1.6 LD
160 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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