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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Solar wind
speed: 437.6 km/sec
density: 2.3 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2344 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: C1
2050 UT Jan11
24-hr: C3
0446 UT Jan11
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2300 UT
Daily Sun: 11 Jan 12
Sunspot 1393 has a 'beta-gamma' magnetic field that harbors energy for M-class solar flares. Credit: SDO/HMI
Sunspot number: 63
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 10 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 10 Jan 2012

The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 129 sfu
explanation | more data
Updated 10 Jan 2012

Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
Planetary K-index
Now: Kp= 2 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 2
explanation | more data
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 2.9 nT
Bz: 0.0 nT
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2345 UT
Coronal Holes: 11 Jan 12
A minor solar wind stream flowing from the indicated coronal hole should reach Earth on Jan. 13-14. Credit: SDO/AIA.
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2012 Jan 11 2200 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
25 %
25 %
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 11 2200 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
10 %
10 %
01 %
05 %
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
10 %
15 %
01 %
10 %
01 %
01 %
Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2012
What's up in space

Don't just watch shooting stars. Wear them! Authentic meteorite jewelry for Christmas is now available in the SpaceWeather Store.

Meteorite jewelry

THE DECAY OF PHOBOS-GRUNT (UPDATED): Russia's malfunctioning Mars probe, Phobos-Grunt, is sinking back into Earth's atmosphere. Taking into account the current space weather forecast and the area-to-mass ratio of the spacecraft, Ted Molczan estimates the time of re-entry: Jan 16 @ 18:00 UTC +/- 1.2 days. The window of uncertainty is still too large to pinpoint exactly where the fireball will occur. "The exact hour of decay will be known with certainty only a few hours before the fact," notes Molczan. Check Spaceweather's Satellite Tracker for last-chance sighting opportunities.

AURORA WATCH: A quickening solar wind stream is buffeting Earth's magnetic field, sparking auroras around the Arctic Circle. Ashton Seth Reimer sends this picture taken during the late hours of Jan. 10th from Longyearbyen, Norway:

"We decided to go for a hike and were surprised by a sudden burst of aurora that lasted for roughly 45 minutes," says Reimer, who is attending classes at the University Centre in Svalbard. "What a fantastic evening in the high arctic! I spent some time laying in the snow on my back marveling at the beautiful light show."

NOAA forecasters estimate a 10% to 20% chance of more geomagnetic storms during the next 48 hours as the solar wind continues to blow. Storm alerts: text, voice.

January 2012 Aurora Gallery
[previous Januaries: 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2005, 2004]

TWISTED MAGNETIC FIELDS: Sunspots store energy in the high-tension twists and turns of their magnetic fields. During the late hours of Jan. 9th, the magnetic field of sunspot 1395 untwisted. The result was a C2.6-class solar flare and this movie from the Solar Dynamics Observatory:

The eruption did not produce a significant CME. Nor did the flash of UV radiation make big waves of ionization in Earth's atmosphere. It was not a geoeffective event.

Having untwisted, the magnetic field of AR1395 is now temporarily relaxed. Solar activity remains low and AR1395 is unlikely to break the quiet. Solar flare alerts: text, voice.

BE ALERT FOR MOON HALOES: With the Moon nearly full, this week is a good time to see a Moon halo. Ruslan Ahmetsafin photographed this speciman over Aykhal, Russia, on Jan 8th:

"The taiga was awash in moonlight, while the full Moon itself was surrounded by a bright ring," says Ahmetsafin. "The air temperature was 37 degrees below zero--very cold!--but it was worth it to see such a beautiful scene."

Moon haloes are caused by ice crystals in cirrus clouds 5 to 10 km above the ground. Crystals catch the light of the Moon and bend its rays into a luminous ring. Because the air is always freezing 10 km above the ground, these haloes may appear at any time of year, over any part of Earth. Nevertheless, they tend to favor northern winter. So look up from the snow (if you have any) to see what the ice might be doing in the air overhead.

more haloes: from Ken Scott of Suttons Bay, MI; from Dr Salvador Aguirre of Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico; from Tanner Schaaf of Hutchinson, Minnesota; from Riccardo Rossi of Cognento (MO) - Italy; from Colin Chatfield of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada; from Paul Beebe of Upsala, Ontario, Canada;

New: Comet Lovejoy Gallery
[previous comets: McNaught, Holmes, Lulin, Tuttle, Ikeya-Zhang]

  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 11, 2012 there were 1272 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Recent & Upcoming Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
2011 YL28
Jan 4
3.7 LD
45 m
2011 YH40
Jan 16
5.4 LD
109 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
2011 YU62
Mar 16
73.3 LD
1.4 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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