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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Solar wind
speed: 548.7 km/sec
density: 2.0 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2351 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: B4
2231 UT Jan12
24-hr: B6
0907 UT Jan12
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2300 UT
Daily Sun: 12 Jan 16
None of these sunspots poses a threat for strong flares. Solar activity is low. Credit: SDO/HMI

Sunspot number: 41
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 12 Jan 2016

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 0 days
2016 total: 0 days (0%)
2015 total: 0 days (0%)

2014 total: 1 day (<1%)
2013 total: 0 days (0%)
2012 total: 0 days (0%)
2011 total: 2 days (<1%)
2010 total: 51 days (14%)
2009 total: 260 days (71%)

Updated 12 Jan 2016

The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 108 sfu
explanation | more data
Updated 12 Jan 2016

Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
Credit: NOAA/Ovation
Planetary K-index
Now: Kp= 3 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 4
explanation | more data
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 7.4 nT
Bz: 4.8 nT south
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2351 UT
Coronal Holes: 12 Jan 16

There are no large coronal holes on the Earthside of the sun. Credit: SDO/AIA.
Noctilucent Clouds The southern season for noctilucent clouds began on Dec. 13, 2015. The coverage of NLCs over Antarctica is rapidly multiplying in 2016.
Switch view: Ross Ice Shelf, Antarctic Peninsula, East Antarctica, Polar
Updated at: 01-12-2016 15:55:02
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2016 Jan 12 2200 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
05 %
05 %
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: 2016 Jan 12 2200 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
35 %
15 %
20 %
05 %
05 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
10 %
15 %
30 %
25 %
50 %
25 %
Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2016
What's up in space

Marianne's Heaven On Earth Aurora Chaser Tours invites you to join them in their quest to find and photograph the Aurora Borealis. Experience the winter wonderland in the Tromsø Area.

Chase the Light Tours

(ALMOST NO) CHANCE OF FLARES: Solar activity is very low and likely to remain so for the next 24 hours. NOAA forecasters estimate a 5% chance of M-flares and no more than a 1% chance of X-flares on Jan. 12th. Solar flare alerts: text or voice.

THE STORM STARTED EARLY: We were expecting a co-rotating interaction region (CIR) to hit Earth's magnetic field on Jan. 12th. It might have arrived a day early. "Here in Inari, Finland, strong auroras appeared on Jan. 11th," reports Rayann Elzein, who photographed a magnificent green outburst over the snowy Lapland:

"This was my last night in Finnish Lapland this January, and I am flying home in a few hours," says Elzein. "What a great way to end a wonderful trip in the Arctic!"

CIRs are transition zones between fast- and slow-moving solar wind streams. Solar wind plasma piles up in these regions, producing density gradients and shock waves that do a good job of sparking auroras. The CIR of Jan. 11th is off to a good start. Aurora alerts: text or voice.

Realtime Aurora Photo Gallery

LEAPING SUNDOGS: At this time of year, when northern skies fill with crystals of ice, it is not unusual to see rainbow-colored splashes of light to the left and right of the sun. These are sundogs, formed by the action of ice on sunlight. Yesterday, the daughter of photographer Robert Snache saw a sundog ... and leaped:

"We had snow squalls in the late afternoon--hence the ice crystals," says Snache, who took the picture from Rama First Nation, Ontario, Canada. "The same crystals formed a smiling rainbow (circumzenithal arc) overhead and a faint 22° halo around the sun. It was a beautiful display of ice halos."

More ice halos are in the offing as northern winter deepens. Browse the gallery for sightings.

Realtime Spaceweather Photo Gallery

Realtime Meteor Photo Gallery

Realtime Comet Photo Gallery

  All Sky Fireball Network
Every night, a network of NASA all-sky cameras scans the skies above the United States for meteoritic fireballs. Automated software maintained by NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office calculates their orbits, velocity, penetration depth in Earth's atmosphere and many other characteristics. Daily results are presented here on

On Jan. 12, 2016, the network reported 15 fireballs.
(13 sporadics, 2 Canum Venaticids)

In this diagram of the inner solar system, all of the fireball orbits intersect at a single point--Earth. The orbits are color-coded by velocity, from slow (red) to fast (blue). [Larger image] [movies]

  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 January 12, 2016 there were potentially hazardous asteroids.
Recent & Upcoming Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
2016 AN9
Jan 7
7.7 LD
20 m
2015 YC2
Jan 15
4.9 LD
88 m
1685 Toro
Jan 22
60.9 LD
1.7 km
2001 XR1
Jan 23
74.4 LD
1.5 km
2015 VC2
Jan 28
5.8 LD
15 m
2015 XA379
Feb 7
8.1 LD
38 m
2013 VA10
Feb 7
8.5 LD
165 m
2014 QD364
Feb 7
14 LD
16 m
2014 EK24
Feb 14
13.8 LD
94 m
2010 LJ14
Feb 16
68.5 LD
1.2 km
1999 YK5
Feb 19
51.7 LD
2.0 km
2010 WD1
Feb 22
12.3 LD
22 m
1991 CS
Feb 23
65.5 LD
1.4 km
2011 EH17
Mar 1
11.1 LD
52 m
2013 TX68
Mar 5
1.3 LD
38 m
2001 PL9
Mar 9
77.6 LD
1.2 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.
  Cosmic Rays in the Atmosphere
Situation Report -- Oct. 30, 2015 Stratospheric Radiation (+37o N)
Cosmic ray levels are elevated (+6.1% above the Space Age median). The trend is flat. Cosmic ray levels have increased +0% in the past month.
Sept. 06: 4.14 uSv/hr (414 uRad/hr)
Sept. 12: 4.09 uSv/hr (409 uRad/hr)
Sept. 23: 4.12 uSv/hr (412 uRad/hr)
Sept. 25: 4.16 uSv/hr (416 uRad/hr)
Sept. 27: 4.13 uSv/hr (413 uRad/hr)
Oct. 11: 4.02 uSv/hr (402 uRad/hr)
Oct. 22: 4.11 uSv/hr (411 uRad/hr)
These measurements are based on regular space weather balloon flights: learn more.

Approximately once a week, and the students of Earth to Sky Calculus fly "space weather balloons" to the stratosphere over California. These balloons are equipped with radiation sensors that detect cosmic rays, a surprisingly "down to Earth" form of space weather. Cosmic rays can seed clouds, trigger lightning, and penetrate commercial airplanes. Our measurements show that someone flying back and forth across the continental USA, just once, can absorb as much ionizing radiation as 2 to 5 dental X-rays. Here is the data from our latest flight, Oct. 22nd:

Radiation levels peak at the entrance to the stratosphere in a broad region called the "Pfotzer Maximum." This peak is named after physicist George Pfotzer who discovered it using balloons and Geiger tubes in the 1930s. Radiation levels there are more than 80x sea level.

Note that the bottom of the Pfotzer Maximim is near 55,000 ft. This means that some high-flying aircraft are not far from the zone of maximum radiation. Indeed, according to the Oct 22th measurements, a plane flying at 45,000 feet is exposed to 2.79 uSv/hr. At that rate, a passenger would absorb about one dental X-ray's worth of radiation in about 5 hours.

The radiation sensors onboard our helium balloons detect X-rays and gamma-rays in the energy range 10 keV to 20 MeV. These energies span the range of medical X-ray machines and airport security scanners.

  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
Columbia Northern High School
  Web-based high school science course with free enrollment
Kotton Grammer, Search Engine Marketing
  sponsored link
Synergy Spray Foam Insulation of Houston TX
  Protection from the Sun!
  more links...
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