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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Solar wind
speed: 325.3 km/sec
density: 0.8 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2346 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: B7
1830 UT Mar29
24-hr: C7
0953 UT Mar29
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2300 UT
Daily Sun: 29 Mar 12
None of these sunspots pose a threat for strong solar flares. Credit: SDO/HMI
Sunspot number: 70
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 28 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 28 Mar 2012

The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 107 sfu
explanation | more data
Updated 28 Mar 2012

Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
Planetary K-index
Now: Kp= 1 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 1
explanation | more data
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 5.2 nT
Bz: 3.1 nT south
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2346 UT
Coronal Holes: 29 Mar 12
There are no large coronal holes on the Earthside of the sun. Credit: SDO/AIA.
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2012 Mar 29 2200 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
35 %
35 %
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: 2012 Mar 29 2200 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
05 %
05 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
15 %
15 %
15 %
15 %
05 %
05 %
Thursday, Mar. 29, 2012
What's up in space

Can you drop a probe on a comet? A new iPhone game from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory puts you in control of the Rosetta spacecraft as it prepares to intercept Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. Download it now.

Comet Quest for iOS

IS IT SNOWING MICROBES ON ENCELADUS? As NASA's Cassini spacecraft completes its deepest-ever pass through the plumes of Enceladus, researchers are wondering if it might be snowing microbes there. The idea is not so far-fetched as evidence mounts for a "uniquely accessible" habitable zone on Saturn's icy moon. [full story]

RETURN OF THE SUNSPOT: Sunspot AR1429, the source of many strong flares and geomagnetic storms earlier this month, is about to re-appear following a two-week trip around the backside of the sun. Magnetic loops towering over the sun's NE limb herald the sunspot's approach:

Earlier today, NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory photographed plumes of plasma rising and falling over the limb: movie. Moreover, a pair of solar flares (C5- and C7-class) in the sunspot's towering magnetic canopy caused waves of ionization to ripple through the high atmosphere over Europe.

While sunspot AR1429 was transiting the farside, it erupted multiple times. Between March 23rd and March 27th, the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) recorded four coronal mass ejections, each racing away from the sun faster than 3 million mph: movie. Collectively, these events suggest AR1429 might still be capable of potent solar activity. Stay tuned. Solar flare alerts: text, phone.

AURORA SURPRISE: No one predicted this: On March 27th, Northern Lights descended all the way south to Nebraska. Click to view a movie of the display, photographed by Chris Allington of Crofton, NE:

"I certainly didn't expect to see anything, but the plots were interesting enough to get me out investigating the northern sky with my camera," says Allington. "Suprisingly, around 9:30pm local time I could see the color of auroras in the viewfinder, so I decided to head to a wind farm near my house. The display became much more vibrant and lasted nearly 4 hours from 10pm to 2am. It's not often that auroras are hardly in the forecast and we see them as far south as NEBRASKA! "

What happened? The interplanetary magnetic field (IMF) tipped south and opened a crack in Earth's magnetosphere. Solar wind poured in to fuel the display. More high-latitude auroras are possible tonight. NOAA forecasters estimate a 30% chance of polar geomagnetic activity as the solar wind continues to blow. Aurora alerts: text, phone.

more images: from Nenne ├ůman of Arjeplog Northern Sweden; from Randy Halverson of Kennebec, South Dakota; from Paul Martin of Ballintoy Harbour, Antrim coast, N.Ireland; from Claus Vogel of Pelly Crossing, Yukon; from David Done of Anzac, Alberta Canada; from Ray Mckenzie of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada; from Dirk Obudzinski of Eagle Summit, Alaska; from Adrian Maricic of Loch Leven, Fife Scotland; from Mark Shaw of Dungiven, Northern Ireland; from Martin McKenna of Ballintoy Harbour, Co. Antrim Coast, N. Ireland; from Chris Allington of Crofton, Nebraska;

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 29, 2012 there were 1287 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Recent & Upcoming Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
2012 FU23
Mar 25
3.1 LD
14 m
2012 FP35
Mar 26
0.4 LD
12 m
2012 FS35
Mar 26
0.2 LD
4 m
2012 FV23
Mar 30
6.6 LD
36 m
2012 EG5
Apr 1
0.6 LD
61 m
2012 FW35
Apr 1
8.3 LD
23 m
2012 FS52
Apr 2
8.9 LD
47 m
2012 FA57
Apr 4
1.1 LD
28 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
2002 VX94
May 26
72.8 LD
1.1 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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