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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Solar wind
speed: 369.7 km/sec
density: 2.8 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2344 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: B7
2053 UT Jan03
24-hr: B9
0154 UT Jan03
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2300 UT
Daily Sun: 03 Jan 12
Sunspot 1389 is in decay and poses a declining threat for M-class solar flares. Credit: SDO/HMI
Sunspot number: 83
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 02 Jan 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 02 Jan 2012

The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 135 sfu
explanation | more data
Updated 02 Jan 2012

Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
Planetary K-index
Now: Kp= 0 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 3
explanation | more data
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 4.4 nT
Bz: 0.5 nT north
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2346 UT
Coronal Holes: 03 Jan 12
Solar wind flowing from this coronal hole is gently buffeting Earth's magnetic field. Credit: SDO/AIA.
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2012 Jan 03 2200 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
10 %
10 %
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: 2012 Jan 03 2200 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
25 %
25 %
05 %
05 %
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
25 %
25 %
20 %
20 %
05 %
05 %
Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2012
What's up in space

Turn your cell phone into a field-tested satellite tracker. Works for Android and iPhone.

Satellite flybys

LIVE METEOR FEEDS: NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office is broadcasting live video from a sensitive all-sky meteor camera at the Marshall Space Flight Center. Tune in here. It's a cozy way to watch the Quadrantids on a cold January night. The shower is expected to peak around 07:20 UT (02:20 am EST) on Wednesday morning, Jan. 4th. (Check out the live meteor radar, too.)

QUADRANTID METEOR SHOWER: Earth is about to pass through a stream of debris from 2003 EH1, a comet fragment that produces the annual Quadrantid meteor shower. Forecasters expect the shower to peak around 07:20 UT (02:20 am EST) on Wednesday morning, January 4th. At maximum, as many as 100 meteors/hour could emerge from a radiant near Polaris, the north star.

Brian Emfinger of Ozark, Arkansas, photographed this one on Jan. 2nd:

"Wow! What a really nice fireball," says Emfinger. "It emerged very very close to the Quadrantid radiant, but I'm not 100% sure it is indeed an early Quadrantid."

Even among professional researchers there is a lot of uncertainty about the Quadrantids. Because the shower occurs during the deep cold of northern winter, and because its peak is brief (often no longer than a couple of hours), this strong shower is seldom observed. Bill Cooke of NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office hopes 2012 will be different. "We encourage sky watchers to be alert for Quadrantids and send their observations to NASA using the Meteor Counter app," he says. "With a little help, we just might learn something new about this intriguing shower."

METEOR RADAR: Got clouds? No problem. You can stay inside and listen to the Quadrantids. Tune into SpaceWeather Radio for a live audio stream from the Air Force Space Surveillance Radar. When a Quadrantid passes over the facility, you will hear a "ping" caused by the radar's powerful transmitter echoing from the meteor's ion trail.

FIRST AURORAS OF 2012: The first auroras of the New Year appeared over Canada last night. "I was out with some friends when we looked up to see the Northern Lights suddenly blazing away over our heads," reports photographer Jesse Thompson of Inglis, Manitoba. Here is a self-portrait of Thompson enjoying the show:

The display was caused by the interplanetary magnetic field (IMF), which tipped south on Jan. 2nd and partially canceled Earth's own north-pointing magnetic field. A crack formed in Earth's magnetosphere, allowing solar wind to flow in and fuel the auroras. Aurora alerts: text, voice.

more images: from Jonathan Tucker of Whitehorse,Yukon; from Joseph Bradley of Whitehorse Yukon; from Andrei Penescu of Kangerlussuaq, Greenland; from Kristy Bruce near Dawson Creek, BC

  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 3, 2012 there were 1272 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Recent & Upcoming Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
2011 YE29
Dec 29
7 LD
54 m
2011 YD29
Dec 30
6 LD
25 m
2011 YE40
Dec 30
9.9 LD
41 m
2011 YL28
Jan 4
3.7 LD
46 m
2011 YH40
Jan 16
5.4 LD
139 m
1991 VK
Jan 25
25.3 LD
1.9 km
433 Eros
Jan 31
69.5 LD
8.5 km
2009 AV
Feb 16
44.9 LD
1.2 km
2000 ET70
Feb 19
17.7 LD
1.0 km
2011 CP4
Feb 23
9.1 LD
255 m
2008 EJ85
Mar 6
9.1 LD
44 m
1999 RD32
Mar 14
57.9 LD
2.3 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
Science Central
Trade Show Displays
  more links...
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