VALENTINE'S DAY MAGNETIC STORM: Valentine's Day in Scandinavia began with a magnetic storm. Rob Stammes of the Polar Light Center in Lofoten, Norway, reports: "Our instruments recorded 2 degree swings in the local magnetic field, which induced strong electrical currents in the ground outside our lab." The needles on his chart recorder were swinging wildly. "Overhead we saw some fantastic auroras," he adds.
ASTEROID FLYBY: At 9:30 am on Friday, Feb. 15th, asteroid 2012 DA14 will fly past Earth only 17,200 miles above our planet's surface. This will put it well inside the orbit of geosynchronous satellites, closer than any asteroid of the same size has come since regular sky surveys began in the 1990s. Researchers speculate that Earth's gravity might even cause seismic activity on the 50m-wide space rock. Go to www.spaceweather.com to view a computer simulation of the flyby, courtesy of NASA:
Asteroid 2012 DA14 is about the same size as previous asteroids responsible for the Meteor Crater in Arizona and the Tunguska Event in Siberia. Unlike those objects, however, 2012 DA14 will not hit Earth. Even if seismic activity breaks the asteroid apart, there is no danger; the fragments would continue along the same non-intersecting path as the original asteroid.