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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Current conditions
Solar wind
speed: 309.0 km/sec
density: 4.8 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2346 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A0
2340 UT Jan22
24-hr: A0
2340 UT Jan22
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2340 UT
Daily Sun: 22 Jan 09
The sun is blank--no sunspots. Credit: SOHO/MDI
Sunspot number: 0
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 20 Jan. 2009
Far side of the Sun:
This holographic image reveals no sunspots on the far side of the sun. Image credit: SOHO/MDI
Planetary K-index
Now: Kp= 0 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 0
explanation | more data
Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
What is the auroral oval?
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 2.2 nT
Bz: 1.0 nT north
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2347 UT
Coronal Holes:
A solar wind stream flowing from the indicated coronal hole should reach Earth on or about Jan. 25th or 26th. Credit: SOHO Extreme UV Telescope
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2009 Jan 22 2201 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
01 %
01 %
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: 2009 Jan 22 2201 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
01 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
05 %
05 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
What's up in Space
January 22, 2009

AURORA ALERT: Did you sleep through the Northern Lights? Next time get a wake-up call: Spaceweather PHONE.


SEVERE SPACE WEATHER: Did you know a solar flare can cause your toilet to stop working? That's one of the surprising conclusions of a NASA-funded study on the social and economic impacts of severe space weather. Get the full story from Science@NASA.

BIRTH OF A SUNSPOT: Two weeks ago, a sunspot was born. The event could not be seen from Earth because it happened over the sun's eastern horizon. Yet here is a snapshot of the birth:

Click to launch a 6.8 MB mpeg movie

This trick, seeing over the sun's horizon, was accomplished by NASA's STEREO mission. STEREO consists of two identical spacecraft on nearly opposite sides of the sun. STEREO-A looks over the western horizon; STEREO-B looks over the east. STEREO-B photographed the emerging active region using its onboard ultraviolet telescope.

The sunspot was a member of new Solar Cycle 24; we know this because of its high latitude where new-cycle sunspots are always born. By the time the region rotated around to face Earth, it was fading away; no dark sunspot core was visible. Without STEREO, it might have escaped attention completely.

Solar Cycle 24 is slowly gaining strength. STEREO will allow greater scrutiny of this cycle than any other in the history of solar physics. Stay tuned for more births in the months ahead.

EXPLORE THE SUNSPOT CYCLE: Were you born under an active sun or a quiet sun? To find out, enter your birth date in the sunspot plotter:

The red curve traces monthly-averaged sunspot numbers tabulated by the Solar Influences Data Center in Belgium. Data points go all the way back to 1755, so you can investigate the relationship between solar activity and many historical events: Do stocks crash during solar minimum? Did NASA send astronauts to the Moon during Solar Max? How do sunspots affect the length of mini-skirts? If you find any interesting coincidences, be sure to tell the webmaster.

Permanent Link: Sunspot Plotter

Jan. 2009 Aurora Gallery
[Previous Januaries: 2008, 2007, 2005, 2004, 2001]
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 22, 2009 there were 1017 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Jan. 2009 Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
2008 YC29
Jan. 2
3.4 LD
35 m
2008 YY32
Jan. 3
6.2 LD
40 m
2008 YG30
Jan. 4
3.6 LD
50 m
2008 YV32
Jan. 9
2.7 LD
25 m
2008 YF29
Jan. 11
9.7 LD
65 m
2002 AO11
Jan. 15
7.7 LD
120 m
1998 CS1
Jan. 17
11 LD
1.3 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 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 and Heliospheric Observatory
  Realtime and archival images of the Sun from SOHO.
  3D views of the sun from NASA's Solar and Terrestrial Relations Observatory
Daily Sunspot Summaries
  from the NOAA Space Environment Center
Current Solar Images
  from the National Solar Data Analysis Center
Science Central
  more links...
©2008, -- This site is penned daily by Dr. Tony Phillips.
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