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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Solar wind
speed: 510.5 km/sec
density: 6.6 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2344 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: B9
2209 UT Jan12
24-hr: C3
1323 UT Jan12
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2300 UT
Daily Sun: 12 Jan 12
All of these sunspots have simple, quiet magnetic fields. The chance of flares is low. Credit: SDO/HMI
Sunspot number: 64
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 11 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 11 Jan 2012

The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 120 sfu
explanation | more data
Updated 11 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: 6.7 nT
Bz: 4.0 nT north
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2347 UT
Coronal Holes: 12 Jan 12
A solar wind stream flowing from the indicated coronal hole should reach Earth on Jan. 16-17. Credit: SDO/AIA.
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2012 Jan 12 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: 2012 Jan 12 2200 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
10 %
10 %
05 %
05 %
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
15 %
15 %
10 %
10 %
01 %
01 %
Thursday, Jan. 12, 2012
What's up in space

Metallic photos of the sun by renowned photographer Greg Piepol bring together the best of art and science. Buy one or a whole set. They make a stellar gift.

Metallic pictures of the Sun

KEPLER DISCOVERS A MINIATURE SOLAR SYSTEM: NASA's Kepler spacecraft has discovered the tiniest solar system so far. It is a red dwarf star closely circled by three rocky planets smaller than Earth. Because red dwarfs are so abundant, this could be the most common type of planetary system in the Milky Way. Get the full story from Science@NASA.

FARSIDE ERUPTION: Today, Jan. 12th, between 10:00 and 1300 UT, NASA's STEREO-Behind spacecraft observed a significant eruption on the farside of the sun. Although the blast was eclipsed by the edge of the solar disk, it nevertheless produced a long-duration X-ray flare (C3-class) detectable from Earth. A movie from NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory shows some of the debris flying over the NE limb:

The blast site is not far behind the eastern limb, and it is only ~two days away from rotating onto the Earthside of the sun. By this weekend, we'll get a direct look at the active region. Perhaps it will break the recent string of mostly quiet days and low solar activity. Solar flare alerts: text, voice.

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

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 12, 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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