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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Solar wind
speed: 447.8 km/sec
density: 4.3 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2344 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: B3
2238 UT Jan15
24-hr: C1
1419 UT Jan15
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2300 UT
Daily Sun: 15 Jan 11
A sunspot is emerging over the sun's eastern limb at the circled location. It is the source of many farside flares and CMEs observed in recent days. Credit: SDO/HMI
Sunspot number: 0
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 14 Jan 2011

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 1 day
2011 total: 1 day (7%)
2010 total: 51 days (14%)
2009 total: 260 days (71%)
Since 2004: 820 days
Typical Solar Min: 486 days

Updated 14 Jan 2011

The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 79 sfu
explanation | more data
Updated 14 Jan 2011

Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
Planetary K-index
Now: Kp= 1 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 2
explanation | more data
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 2.2 nT
Bz: 1.3 nT north
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2345 UT
Coronal Holes: 14 Jan 10
Earth is entering a solar wind stream flowing from the indicated coronal hole. Credit: SDO/AIA.
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2011 Jan 15 2200 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: 2011 Jan 15 2200 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
10 %
05 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
15 %
10 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
Saturday, Jan. 15, 2011
What's up in space

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

Satellite flybys

EMERGING ACTIVE REGION: A farside sunspot which has produced a number of strong flares and CMEs in recent days is emerging over the sun's eastern limb. We can now see it from Earth. Click here for a first-look from NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory.

NORTHERN LIGHTS: A solar wind stream is buffeting Earth's magnetic field and sparking bright auroras around the Arctic Circle. "Last night's display was great," reports Chad Blakley of the Aurora Sky Station in Abisko National Park, Sweden. "We all had high hopes after seeing the predictions on, and we were not disappointed." He took this picture using a Nikon D7000:

"The aurora was strong enough to be seen through bright moonlight," he adds. "We are hoping for more great lights tomorrow!"

They might get them. The solar wind is expected to intensify during the next 24 hours as a hole in the sun's atmosphere (a "coronal hole") becomes increasingly geoeffective. NOAA forecasters estimate a 30% chance of geomagnetic activity at high latitudes. Stay tuned.

January 2011 Aurora Photo Gallery
[previous Januaries: 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2005, 2004]

SUN PILLAR: "Yesterday at sunrise, a column of light jumped straight up from the sun," says Shulamit Widawsky of Fairfax, VA. "It was not a result of the photography. It really looked like this with the naked eye, and lasted for at least ten minutes. What do you call it?" Scroll down for the answer:

This is called a "sun pillar." It is caused by plate-shaped ice crystals fluttering to Earth like leaves falling from trees. Air resistance causes the flat faces of the ice crystals to line up almost parallel to the ground. They catch the light of the morning sun and spread it into a brilliant vertical column. The source of the crystals may be seen in Widawsky's snapshot: icy clouds just above the pillar are responsiible for the display. With air temperatures in the northern hemisphere regularly dipping below freezing, this is a good time of year to see the phenomenon. Look for sun pillars are sunrise and sunset!

Solar Eclipse Photo Gallery
[NASA: Hinode Observes Annular Solar Eclipse]

  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 15, 2011 there were 1183 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Recent & Upcoming Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
2011 AN1
Jan 10
5.5 LD
12 m
2009 BS5
Jan 11
3.4 LD
14 m
2011 AH5
Jan 13
3.3 LD
28 m
2011 AY22
Jan 14
4.1 LD
17 m
2011 AB37
Jan 19
9.5 LD
29 m
2011 AL37
Jan 28
2.4 LD
65 m
2003 YG118
Feb 20
67.7 LD
1.8 km
2000 PN9
Mar 10
45.5 LD
2.6 km
2002 DB4
Apr 15
62.5 LD
2.2 km
2008 UC202
Apr 27
8.9 LD
10 m
2009 UK20
May 2
8.6 LD
23 m
2008 FU6
May 5
75.5 LD
1.2 km
2003 YT1
May 5
65.3 LD
2.5 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
  more links...
©2010 All rights reserved. This site is penned daily by Dr. Tony Phillips.
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