SOLAR WEATHER
and some interesting moon stuff

2009

compiled by Dee Finney

updated 3-31-09

JANUARY - FEBRUARY - MARCH - APRIL - MAY  - JUNE - JULY -
 

AUGUST - SEPTEMBER - OCTOBER - NOVEMBER - DECEMBER

THIS COMPILATION IS BEING DONE IN HONOR OF KENT STEADMAN
OF  www.cyberspaceorbit.com  who left his earthly abode in 2008

2008 SOLAR WEATHER

PAGE 3 - MARCH 2009

On January 6, 2009 there were 1014 potentially hazardous asteroids.
On January 13, 2009 there were 1016 potentially hazardous asteroids.
On January 17, 2009, there were 1017 potentially hazardous asteroids.
On February 2, 2009, there were 1019 potentially hazardous asteroids.
On February 13, 2009, there are 1025 potentially hazardous asteroids.
On February 25th, there were 1029 potentially hazardous asteroids.
On February 28th, there were 1032 potentially hazardous asteroids.
On March 2nd, there were 1033 potentially hazardous asteroids.
On March 5th, there were 1035 potentially hazardous asteroids.
On March 25th, there were 1048 potentially hazardous asteroids.

GOES 8 MAGNETOMETER MONITOR
GOES 8 SATELLITE DATA
CURRENT SOLAR FLARE DATA

CURRENT SPACE WEATHER DATA
CURRENT SOLAR X-RAY DATA
LASCO IMAGES
 
March 2009 Earth-asteroid encounters:
On March 6, 2009 there were 1035 potentially hazardous asteroids.
March 2009 Earth-asteroid encounters:
Asteroid
Date(UT)
Miss Distance
Mag.
Size
2009 DS43
Mar. 1
6.9 LD
18
32 m
2009 DD45
Mar. 2
0.2 LD
11
35 m
2009 DN4
Mar. 3
8.1 LD
21
27 m
2009 EA
Mar. 4
7.4 LD
19
24 m
2009 EW
Mar. 6
0.9 LD
16
23 m
161989 Cacus
Mar. 7
70.5 LD
16
1.7 km
2009 EH1
Mar. 8
1.6 LD
18
12 m
2009 DV43
Mar. 10
8.5 LD
18
80 m
2009 EU
Mar. 11
3.5 LD
18
21 m
1998 OR2
Mar. 12
69.8 LD
14
3.3 km
2009 DR3
Mar. 14
7.2 LD
16
225 m
2009 FH    Mar. 18       0.2 LD     14      21m
2009 FK Mar. 19 1.0 LD 17 9 m
2009 DO111 Mar. 20 1.2 LD 13 117m
2009 FX4 Mar. 23 6.1 LD 19 37 m
2009 FD Mar. 27 1.6 LD 13 160 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.

 

3-31-09  - No sunspots today

Current conditions

Solar wind
speed: 369.4 km/sec
density: 1.4 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2345 UT

X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A0
2340 UT Mar31
24-hr: A0
2340 UT Mar31
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2340

NOT A ROCKET: News reports that a Russian rocket fell over the US mid-Atlantic coast on Sunday evening, March 29th, are probably incorrect. A spent Russian rocket booster did reenter Earth's atmosphere on March 29th, but apparently not over the USA. According to data published by US Strategic Command, the reentry occurred near Taiwan (24° N, 125° E) at 11:57 p.m. EDT. So what were those lights in the sky over Maryland and Virginia two hours earlier? Eyewitness accounts of the Atlantic Coast fireball are consistent with a meteoritic bolide--a random asteroid hitting Earth's atmosphere and exploding in flight.
 

3-30-09  No sunspots today

Current conditions

Solar wind
speed: 398.2 km/sec
density: 1.2 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2346 UT

X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A0
2335 UT Mar30
24-hr: A0
0550 UT Mar30
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2340 UT

ATLANTIC COAST FIREBALL: Last night, March 29th around 9:45 pm EDT, people along the Atlantic coast of the USA from Maryland to North Carolina witnessed bright lights in the sky and heard thunderous booms. It was almost certainly a meteoritic bolide--a random asteroid hitting Earth's atmosphere and exploding in flight. Another possibility is being discussed: A spent Russian rocket body reentered the atmosphere on March 29th. According to data published by US Strategic Command, however, the rocket reentered near Taiwan (24° N, 125° E) more than two hours after the Atlantic Coast event. A natural meteor remains the most likely explanation. Stay tuned for updates and more eyewitness reports.
 

3-29-09 - No sunspots today

Current conditions

Solar wind
speed: 437.0 km/sec
density: 2.7 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2345 UT

X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A0
2340 UT Mar29
24-hr: A0
0630 UT Mar29
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2340 UT

SOLAR ACTIVITY: With no sunspots to break the monotony, the face of the sun has been blank and quiet for nearly a month. The edge of the sun is another matter. "The solar limb has been pretty busy lately," reports Alan Friedman of Buffalo, New York. "Today I photographed several beautiful prominences, and one of them looks like a tidal wave." Readers, if you have a solar telescope, point it at the limb; that's where the action is.

more images: from Pete Lawrence of Selsey, West Sussex, UK; from Franck Charlier of Marines, Val d'Oise - France; from Mike Strieber of Las Vegas, Nevada; from Robert Arnold of Isle of Skye, Scotland; from Monty Leventhal of Sydney Australia; from Sylvain Weiller of Saint Rémy lčs Chevreuse, France; from Cai-Uso Wohler of Bispingen, Germany

 

3-28-09 - No sunspots today

Current conditions

Solar wind
speed: 448.2 km/sec
density: 4.2 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2345 UT

X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A0
2340 UT Mar28
24-hr: A0
2340 UT Mar28
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2340 UT

NEW MORNING STAR: On March 27th, Venus passed by the sun and underwent a transformation--from Evening Star to Morning Star. For the next eight months, the brightest of all planets will shine in the pre-dawn sky, changing phases, casting shadows, and occasionally posing with the crescent Moon for a lovely photo-op. A new animation from graphic artist Larry Koehn shows what to expect when you wake up in the morning: play it.

 

3-27-09 - No sunspot today - Yesterday's proto-sunspot failed to materialize. The sun is blank. Credit: SOHO/MDI

Current Conditions

Solar wind
speed: 418.5 km/sec
density: 1.4 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2346 UT

X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A0
2340 UT Mar27
24-hr: A0
1425 UT Mar27
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2340 UT

 

3-26-09  Sunspot #   1016

A "proto-sunspot" is struggling to emerge at the circled location. If it coelesces, its high latitude would make it a member of new Solar Cycle 24. Credit: SOHO/MDI

Current conditions

Solar wind
speed: 448.9 km/sec
density: 2.2 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 1526 UT P>
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A0
1015 UT Mar26
24-hr: B2
0215 UT Mar26
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 1525 UT

AROUND THE BEND: The sun has been without spots for nearly a month, but the blank spell could be coming to an end. The Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) is monitoring intense activity on the sun's northeastern limb:



 

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:

"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;
 

3-25-09 - No sunspot today

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

 

3-24-09 - No sunspots today

SPACE WEATHER
Current conditions

Solar wind
speed: 470.2 km/sec
density: 3.5 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2346 UT

X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A0
2235 UT Mar24
24-hr: A0
2235 UT Mar24
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2340 UT

SATELLITE WRECKAGE: Last month, the Iridium 33 communications satellite was completely destroyed when it collided with Russian satellite Cosmos 2251. Or was it? Satellite observer Marco Langbroek has observed a substantial piece of Iridium 33 wreckage apparently still intact tumbling over the Netherlands:


Photo details: Canon EOS 450D + EF 50/2.5 Macro lens

"This photo is one of two I shot on March 20th showing Iridium 33 flashing at magnitude +2 with a period of 4.6 to 4.7 seconds," says Langbroek. "Simone Corbellini in Italy and I have independently observed it occasionally giving off much brighter flashes of magnitude -2. Simone thinks that the main mission antennas are still intact and glinting in the orbital sunlight."

"It seems that Iridium 33 received a glancing blow," he suggests. "Pieces scattered off, but there is still a considerable body left."

Readers, if you would like to try to observe the wreckage, check the Simple Satellite Tracker for flyby times. You might see nothing when Iridium 33 passes overhead, but the possibility of a bright flash makes it worth a try.

SOMETHING MYSTERIOUS IN THE STATE OF DENMARK: On March 20th, Danish photographer Jesper Gronne looked up at the clouds and saw not just one or two but three concentric halos around the sun. Before the rare display could fade, he grabbed his camera (a Canon 5D) and snapped more than 20 pictures. Stacking the images on his computer yielded a pin-up quality record of the event:

"I never expected to see such a rich variety of ice halos here in lowland Denmark--and it's not even winter anymore!" he marveled.

What could cause such an apparition? Atmospheric optics expert Les Cowley explains: "We can work outwards from the sun to explore the mysteries of this display. The first ring is an exceptionally bright and rare 9-degree halo made by tumbling pyramidal ice crystals in the clouds. The same crystals also produced displays on the other side of the North Sea the night before. The inner halo's bright upper and lower patches could be something very rare indeed, plate arcs from aligned pyramids. But we must be cautious, they could just be spots of thicker cloud!"

"The next bright ring is at first sight the common 22-degree halo but with so many pyramidal crystals about it could also be a combination of other pyramidal halo rings. There are hints too of 18 degree pyramidal halos inside it. At least the two sundogs are familiar sights!"

"Farther from the sun at top is another familiar halo, the ‘smile-in the-sky'

 

3-23-09 - No sunspots today

Solar wind
speed: 372.8 km/sec
density: 2.9 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2346 UT

X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A0
1915 UT Mar23
24-hr: A0
1915 UT Mar23
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2340 UT

NEAR THE EDGE OF THE SUN: Imagine looking up at noon and seeing a planet with four moons just 0.1o from the edge of the blinding sun. Impossible? NASA's STEREO-B spacecraft did it last week. Click on the image below to launch a movie of Jupiter and the Galilean satellites in close "solar conjunction."

5 MB Quicktime movie | labeled still frame | Zoom in on Jupiter

During the 30-hour movie, Io, Europa, Ganymede and Callisto circle Jupiter as a massive CME billows overhead. STEREO-B recorded the action on March 15th and 16th using an occulting disk to block the solar glare. This arrangment allowed STEREO's cameras to photograph moons of Jupiter eight thousand billion (8x1012) times dimmer than the adjacent sun.

STEREO's coronagraph (occulting disk+camera) is designed to monitor faint but powerful activity in the sun's outer atmosphere. The CME is a good example. With a limiting magnitude of +6.5, it can also see stars, planets, moons and comets so close to the edge of the sun, it seems impossible. In fact, it happens all the time. Browse the STEREO gallery for examples

 

3-22-09 - No sunspots today

Current conditions

Solar wind
speed: 428.0 km/sec
density: 0.5 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2346 UT

X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A0
2340 UT Mar22
24-hr: A0
2340 UT Mar22
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2340 UT

DEEP SOLAR MINIMUM: Where have all the sunspots gone? As of yesterday, March 21st, the sun has been blank on 85% of the days of 2009. If this rate of spotlessness continues through the end of the year, 2009 will match 1913 as the blankest year of the past century. A flurry of new-cycle sunspots in Oct. 2008 prompted some observers to declare that solar minimum was ending, but since then the calm has returned. We are still in the pits of a deep solar minimum.

Sungrazer
Credit: LASCO, SOHO Consortium, NRL, ESA, NASA

Explanation: The Sun destroyed this comet. Arcing toward a fiery fate, this Sungrazer comet was recorded by the SOHO spacecraft's Large Angle Spectrometric COronagraph(LASCO) on 1996 Dec. 23. LASCO uses an occulting disk, partially visible at the lower right, to block out the otherwise overwhelming solar disk allowing it to image the inner 5 million miles of the relatively faint corona. The comet is seen as its coma enters the bright equatorial solar wind region (oriented vertically). Spots and blemishes on the image are background stars and camera streaks caused by charged particles. Positioned in space to continuously observe the Sun, SOHO has now been used to discover over 1,500 comets, including numerous sungrazers. Based on their orbits, they are believed to belong to a family of comets created by successive break ups from a single large parent comet which passed very near the Sun in the twelfth century. The Great Comet of 1965, Ikeya-Seki, was also a member of the Sungrazer family, coming within about 650,000 kilometers of the Sun's surface. Passing so close to the Sun, Sungrazers are subjected to destructive tidal forces along with intense solar heat. This comet, known as SOHO 6, did not survive.

 

3-21-09  - No sunspots today

Current conditions

Solar wind
speed: 404.7 km/sec

density: 1.0 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2344 UT

X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A0
2340 UT Mar21
24-hr: A0
2340 UT Mar21
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2340 UT

 

3-20-09 - No sunspots today

Current conditions

Solar wind
speed: 418.3 km/sec
density: 1.5 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2346 UT

X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A0
2340 UT Mar20
24-hr: A0
2340 UT Mar20
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2340 UT

ASTEROID FLYBY: On March 20th, asteroid 2009 DO111 flew past Earth about 288,000 miles away--just beyond the orbit of the Moon. About the size of a football field, the dangerous space rock was visible in backyard telescopes as it raced through the constellation Cassiopeia shining like a 13th magnitude star. March has been a busy month for flybys with at least nine asteroids passing within a million miles of Earth. Stay tuned for more.

images: from David Strange of Branscombe, Devon, UK; from Mathew Marulla of Nashua, New Hampshire; from Ernesto Guido & Giovanni Sostero of Italy;

SUN-EARTH DAY: March 20th is the vernal equinox--the first day of spring in the northern hemisphere. To celebrate the change of seasons, NASA is hosting a special Sun-Earth Day webcast. Tune in on Friday at 1 pm EDT to hear a panel of solar physicists discuss recent discoveries and teach students how to make their own space weather forecasts.

 

3-19-09 - No sunspots today

Current conditions

Solar wind
speed: 284.5 km/sec
density: 0.4 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2345 UT

X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A0
2340 UT Mar19
24-hr: A0
2340 UT Mar19
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2340 UT

 

3-18-09 - No sunspots today

ASTEROID FLYBY TONIGHT: Newly-discovered asteroid 2009 FH is flying past Earth tonight only 85,000 km away. That's about twice the altitude of a geosynchronous communications satellite. Advanced amateur astronomers in North America can photograph the 20-meter-wide space rock racing through the constellation Gemini after sunset on March 17th. It should be about as bright as a 14th magnitude star. [ephemeris] [3D orbit]

EARTH dodged a cosmic bullet today when a newly discovered asteroid skimmed past at a distance of just over 50,000 miles – around a fifth of the distance to the Moon.

The 20-yard wide rock was discovered yesterday by a robotic telescope called the Catalina Sky Survey near Tucson, Arizona.

Calculations of its orbit showed that it would narrowly miss the Earth, passing at a height of a little more than twice that of communications satellites.

Early yesterday, the space rock, labelled 2009 FH, was racing through the constellation of Gemini, resembling a faint star through amateur stargazers’ telescopes.

It is the second time this month that an asteroid has flown so close to Earth. On March 2, 2009 DD45 passed by only 45,000 miles away.

Either rock could have devastated a city if it had collided with our planet.

In 1908, an asteroid or small comet similar in size to 2009 FH exploded over Siberia with the force of up to 15million tons of TNT, flattening trees for more than 1,000 square miles around.

More than a thousand potentially hazardous asteroids are known to cross our orbit and nearly 900 are known to be around 500ft wide.


Current conditions

Solar wind
speed: 369.0 km/sec
density: 0.3 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 0047 UT

X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A0
2355 UT Mar17
24-hr: A0
1410 UT Mar17
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2355 UT

A LITTLE SOLAR ACTIVITY:

The sun is in the pits of the deepest solar minimum in almost 100 years. At such a calm time, even a little solar activity is remarkable. Here it is. SOHO recorded the movie on March 16th; it shows a minor CME billowing away from the sun's eastern limb. When the sun is active, we see several such CMEs on a daily basis. Now, the rate is about one per month. That's very little solar activity.

 

3-17-09 - No sunspot today

Current conditions

Solar wind
speed: 375.4 km/sec
density: 0.6 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2346 UT

X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A0
2340 UT Mar17
24-hr: A0
1410 UT Mar17
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2340 UT

A solar wind stream flowing from
the indicated coronal hole should
reach Earth on or about March 20th.
 Credit: SOHO Extreme UV Telescope

 

3-16-09 - No sunspot today

Current conditions

Solar wind
speed: 403.7 km/sec
density: 0.6 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2345 UT

X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A0
2340 UT Mar16
24-hr: A0
1005 UT Mar16
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2340 UT

A solar wind stream flowing from the indicated coronal hole should reach Earth on or about March 20th. Credit: SOHO Extreme UV Telescope

 

3-15-09  The sun is blank, but maybe not for long. Two proto-sunspots are simmering near the sun's equator. Their locations are shown in this magnetogram. Credit: SOHO/MDI

more images: from Matthias Juergens of Gnevsdorf, Germany; from Pete Lawrence of Selsey, West Sussex, UK

Current conditions

Solar wind
speed: 438.2 km/sec
density: 0.6 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2345 UT

X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A0
2340 UT Mar15
24-hr: A0
2340 UT Mar15
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2340 UT

FAREWELL COMET LULIN: Almost three weeks after its close encounter with Earth, Comet Lulin is returning to the cold and inky depths of the outer solar system. "The comet is fading rapidly," says John Nassr who sends this picture taken March 14th from his backyard observatory in the Philippines:

The head of the comet is now about as bright as a 7th or 8th magnitude star--invisible to the naked eye and a good target for experienced astrophotographers only. Take a long look at these parting shots. They could be the last ones you see. Comet Lulin is on a hyperbolic trajectory out of the solar system, crossing the orbit of Mars on March 29th, transiting the asteroid belt between April and August 2009, and passing Jupiter in early 2010. Farewell Comet Lulin, and thanks for the memories!

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

SKI HALOS: Friday the 13th was a lucky day at the Killington ski resort in Vermont. A bank of icy clouds drifted directly in front of the sun, producing a sun halo of such intense beauty, it stopped skiers in their tracks:

"I was simply astounded!" says photographer Steven Benatar. "The amazing halo lasted for about 45 minutes. Thankfully I had my handy Canon SD780 to snap some quick pics as evidence."

Benatar says he's seen pictures of sun halos before on the internet, but "they are much better in person!"

more images: from Alex Conu of Clinceni, Romania; from Jim Saueressig of Emporia, Kansas; from Lois Reinert of Tracy, Minnesota


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


Explore the Sunspot Cycle

3-14-09 -  sunspot 1015

NEW SUNSPOT: A new sunspot may be emerging in the southeastern quadrant of the sun: images. Readers, if you have a solar telescope, take a look.

Current conditions

Solar wind
speed: 539.7 km/sec
density: 0.7 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 1501 UT

X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A0
1730 UT Mar14
24-hr: A0
1730 UT Mar14
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 1730 UT

 

3-13-09 - the sun is blank today

Current conditions

Solar wind
speed: 549.8 km/sec
density: 0.4 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2344 UT

X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A0
2340 UT Mar13
24-hr: A0
2340 UT Mar13
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2340 UT

GEOMAGNETIC STORM: A solar wind stream hit Earth last light, sparking a magnetic storm around the Arctic Circle. Rune Christianse sends this picture from Nuuk, Greenland:

"The Northern Lights were bright and quick-shifting," he says. "I photographed the display using my Canon 5D."

High-latitude sky watchers should be alert for more auroras tonight as the solar wind continues to blow. NOAA forecasters estimate a 30% chance of geomagnetic activity during the next 24 hours.

 

3-12-09 - The sun is blank today

Solar wind
speed: 353.5 km/sec
density: 5.2 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2347 UT

X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A0
2105 UT Mar12
24-hr: A0
1515 UT Mar12
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2340 UT

 

3-11-09 - No sunspots today

Current conditions

Solar wind
speed: 363.5 km/sec
density: 3.0 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2345 UT

X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A0
2340 UT Mar11
24-hr: A0
1210 UT Mar11
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2340 UT

COSMOS IS FALLING: The first fragments of shattered satellite Cosmos 2251 are about to reenter Earth's atmosphere. According to US Strategic Command, fragment 1993-036PX will reenter on March 12th, followed by 1993-036KW on March 28th and 1993-036MC on March 30th. These are probably centimeter-sized pieces that will disintegrate in the atmosphere, posing no threat to people on the ground.

Cosmos 2251 was shattered on Feb. 10th when it collided with Iridium 33. Cosmos 2251 possessed almost twice the mass of Iridium 33 and to date appears to have produced more than twice the number of fragments.

 

3-10-09 - No sunspots today

Current conditions

Solar wind
speed: 335.1 km/sec
density: 0.9 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 0234 UT

X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A0
2355 UT Mar09
24-hr: A0
1455 UT Mar09
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2355 UT

A solar wind stream flowing from the indicated coronal hole should arrive on March 12th or 13th. Credit: SOHO Extreme UV Telescope

SAFIR 2: The Safir 2 rocket that launched Iran's first home-grown satellite Omid on Feb. 2nd, 2009, is tumbling around Earth and catching the attention of sky watchers as sunlight glints off its reflective surfaces. "I saw it on March 7th--it was visible to the naked eye," reports Marco Langbroek of the Netherlands. Using a Canon 450D, he photographed the rocket body passing over his home in Leiden and made a brightness profile of the flyby:

"The Safir exhibited a gradual brightness variation, slowly going between magnitude +3 and near-invisibility (magnitude > +4)," he says. "Around the moment of peak brightness, it gives a short bright glint." Langbroek measured the interval between glints: 33.25 seconds. That could be the tumble-period of the rocket body.

Readers, you may be able to see Safir 2 with your own eyes. Check Spaceweather's Simple Satellite Tracker for possible flybys of your hometown. If you don't immediately see the rocket, wait 33 seconds for a glint. It's the best part.

SATELLITE DEBRIS UPDATE: The first catalogued fragments of shattered satellite Cosmos 2251 are about to reenter Earth's atmosphere. According to US Strategic Command tracking data, reentries will occur on March 12th, 28th and 30th, followed by more in April.  Radar cross sections are not available for all of the reentering pieces; they are probably centimeter-class fragments that pose no threat to people on the ground.  Visit http://spaceweather.com for more information.

WORM MOON: Tonight's full Moon has a special name--the Worm Moon. It signals the coming of northern spring, a thawing of the soil, and the first stirrings of earthworms in long-dormant gardens. Step outside tonight and behold the wakening landscape. "Worm moonlight" is prettier than it sounds

3-9-09  No sunspot today

Current conditions

Solar wind
speed: 352.0 km/sec
density: 1.0 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2345 UT

X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A0
2340 UT Mar09
24-hr: A0
1455 UT Mar09
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2340 UT

 

3-8-09  Sunspot 1014 has faded away

Current conditions

Solar wind
speed: 412.0 km/sec
density: 1.5 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2345 UT

X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A0
2340 UT Mar08
24-hr: A0
2340 UT Mar08
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2340 UT

 

3-7-09  Sunspot 1014

Current conditions

Solar wind
speed: 329.1 km/sec
density: 5.8 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 1436 UT

X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A0
1435 UT Mar07
24-hr: A0
1435 UT Mar07
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 1435 UT

A solar wind stream flowing from the indicated coronal hole should arrive on March 11th or 12th. Credit: SOHO Extreme UV Telescope

 

3-6-09 - Sunspot 1014 just emerging in the center of the sun

Current conditions

Solar wind
speed: 372.6 km/sec
density: 2.6 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2346 UT

X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A0
2340 UT Mar06
24-hr: A0
2340 UT Mar06
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2340 UT

 

3-5-09 - No sunspot today

Solar wind
speed: 355.8 km/sec
density: 6.6 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2345 UT

X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A0
2340 UT Mar05
24-hr: A0
2340 UT Mar05
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2340 UT

LULIN AND THE BEEHIVE: Tonight, March 5th, Comet Lulin is having a close encounter with the Beehive star cluster. Astrophotographer Doug Zubenel reports from rural Kansas: "I stepped outside around 10 p.m. and discovered to my great delight a big gap in the cirrus clouds with the Comet Lulin right in the middle. A 90-second exposure with my Canon Rebel XTi revealed the star cluster as well."

Next, Zubenel pointed his hand-ground 4.25" RFT (rich field telescope) at the gap. "Wow! What a sight it was seeing the bright green atmosphere of Comet Lulin in the same 3.5o field of view as the Beehive Cluster. Even in the bright moonlight, it was a good show."

UPDATED: Comet Lulin Photo Gallery
[Comet Hunter Telescope] [
Sky maps: March 5, 6, 7]

RUSSIAN COMSAT CLOUD: "On Saturday evening, February 28th, I was observing at the Astronomical Society of Victoria dark-sky site near Heathcote, Australia," reports Michael Mattiazzo. "At 21:45 AEDT (10:45 UT) I happened to glance westwards and noticed a mysterious V-shaped glow just below Alpha Ceti. During the 5 minutes I spent aligning the telescope and setting up my camera on piggyback, it expanded considerably." He combined four images from his Canon 300D to create this 6-minute animation:

"[The object that emitted the cloud] can be seen in my animation heading in an easterly direction toward the right side of the photo. Satellite expert Tony Beresford has identified it as a new Russian military comsat launched from Baykonur on Feb 28th."

The name of the comsat is Raduga-1; it is an improved version of the Soviet-era old Gran' (Raduga) satellite first launched in 1975. Two burns were required to place Raduga-1 into geosynchronous orbit and purely by chance Mattiazzo saw one of them. It just goes to show ... you never know what you might see if you keep looking up.

 

3-4-09 - No sunspots today

Current conditions

Solar wind
speed: 368.5 km/sec
density: 13.1 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2344 UT

X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A0
2340 UT Mar04
24-hr: A0
2340 UT Mar04
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2340 UT

 

3-3-09 - No sunspots today

Current conditions

Solar wind
speed: 369.2 km/sec
density: 0.9 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2346 UT

X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A0
2340 UT Mar03
24-hr: A0
0810 UT Mar03
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2340 UT

Just because there are no sunspots doesn't mean the sun is dead

 

According to SOHO, the prominence is still showing off today. Readers, if you have a solar telescope, take a look.

 

3-2-09

Current conditions

Solar wind
speed: 355.5 km/sec
density: 1.4 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 1535 UT

X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A0
1535 UT Mar02
24-hr: A0
1535 UT Mar02
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 1535 UT

ASTEROID FLYBY: Newly-discovered asteroid 2009 DD45 is about to fly past Earth only 72,000 km (0.000482 AU) away. That's about twice the height of a typical geostationary communications satellite. The 30- to 40-meter wide space rock is similar in size to the Tunguska impactor of 1908, but this time there is no danger of a collision. At closest approach on March 2nd, around 1340 UT (5:40 am PST), 2009 DD45 will speed through the constellation Virgo shining as brightly as an 11th magnitude star. Experienced amateur astronomers can track the asteroid using this ephemeris.

UPDATE: Using a 14-inch telescope at the University of Narińo Observatory in Colombia, Alberto Quijano Vodniza has photographed the asteroid streaking toward Earth thirteen hours before closest approach: 1 MB movie.

 

3-1-09  No sunspots today

Current conditions

Solar wind
speed: 388.1 km/sec
density: 1.2 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2345 UT

X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A0
2340 UT Mar01
24-hr: A0
2340 UT Mar01
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2340 UT

Tunguska-sized asteroid to skim Earth on 3-2-09 closer than the moon, some satellites

A newly-discovered asteroid is incoming fast, and astronomers calculate that it will skim by Earth by only about 40,000 miles. That's closer to Earth than the moon., and closer than some satellites  stationed in a High Earth Orbit.

The new asteroid, 2009 DD45,  was spotted by prolific comet-hunter Rob McNaught  about two days ago at Australia"s Siding Spring Observatory. DD45 is estimated to have a diameter of about 115 feet, or roughly the size of the asteroid (120 feet) that slammed into Tunguska in Siberia  in 1908.

That disastrous impact slammed the energy of about 150 Hiroshima-sized bombs into the Siberian countryside. NASA's Near-Earth Object office has details:

...Eight hundred square miles of remote forest had been ripped asunder. Eighty million trees were on their sides, lying in a radial pattern.The massive explosion packed a wallop.

...The resulting seismic shockwave registered with sensitive barometers as far away as England. Dense clouds formed over the region at high altitudes which reflected sunlight from beyond the horizon. Night skies glowed, and reports came in that people who lived as far away as Asia could read newspapers outdoors as late as midnight. Locally, hundreds of reindeer, the livelihood of local herders, were killed, but there was no direct evidence that any person perished in the blast.

DD45 is expected to speed past Earth somwehere over the Pacific Ocean near Tahiti at about 6 a.m. PST March 2. Racing at about half a degree per minute, the asteroid will be in the constellation of Virgo, with a magnitude of slightly more than 10.

NASA has provided a plot of DD45's path herehttp://ssd.jpl.nasa.gov/sbdb.cgi?sstr=2009%20DD45;orb=1

 

SPACE DATABASE ON THIS SITE

DREAMS OF THE GREAT EARTHCHANGES - MAIN INDEX