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SpaceWeather.com -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
 
Solar wind
speed: 458.7 km/sec
density: 5.3 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2344 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: C1
2037 UT Jan16
24-hr: C6
0444 UT Jan16
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2300 UT
Daily Sun: 16 Jan 12
New sunspots 1401 and 1402 pose a threat for M-class solar flares. Credit: SDO/HMI
Sunspot number: 141
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 15 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 15 Jan 2012


The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 134 sfu
explanation | more data
Updated 15 Jan 2012

Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
Credit: NOAA/POES
Planetary K-index
Now: Kp= 3 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 3
quiet
explanation | more data
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 4.9 nT
Bz: 1.1 nT north
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2346 UT
Coronal Holes: 14 Jan 12
Earth is entering a solar wind stream flowing from this coronal hole. Credit: SDO/AIA.
SPACE WEATHER
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2012 Jan 16 2200 UTC
FLARE
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
CLASS M
25 %
25 %
CLASS X
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 16 2200 UTC
Mid-latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
ACTIVE
15 %
05 %
MINOR
05 %
01 %
SEVERE
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
ACTIVE
20 %
10 %
MINOR
10 %
01 %
SEVERE
05 %
01 %
 
Monday, Jan. 16, 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

AURORA WATCH: Earth is entering a moderately-fast (~500 km/s) solar wind stream that could spark geomagnetic disturbances around the Arctic Circle. High-latitude sky watchers should be alert for auroras tonight. Aurora alerts: text, voice.

VENUS-DIRECTED CME (UPDATED): Sunspot complex 1401-1402 erupted this morning, Jan. 16th at approximately 0400 UT, producing a C6-class solar flare (SDO movie) and a bright coronal mass ejection. SOHO recorded the expanding cloud:

Update: According to a forecast track prepared by analysts at the Goddard Space Weather Lab, this CME will hit Venus during the late hours of Jan. 18th. Because Venus has no global magnetic field to protect it, the impact will erode a small amount of atmosphere from the planet's cloudtops. There's no cause for concern, however, because Venus's massive atmosphere will scarcely notice the loss.

The same analysis shows that the CME might deliver a glancing blow to Earth's magnetic field around 1200 UT on Jan. 19th. The impact could cause geomagnetic activity and auroras around the Arctic Circle.

more images: from Pete Lawrence of Selsey, West Sussex, UK; from John Stetson of Falmouth, Maine; from Richard Bailey of Barham, Kent, UK; from Gianfranco Meregalli of Milano Italy

THE GHOST OF COMET LOVEJOY: Today is the one-month anniversary of Comet Lovejoy's close encounter with the sun. The comet emerged from the sun's atmosphere bright enough to see with the naked eye in the dawn sky. Thirty days later, Comet Lovejoy is a ghost of its former self. This morning, Jan. 16th, Minoru Yoneto of Queenstown, New Zealand, photographed the fading sungrazer:

The comet's gossamer tail stretches more than 13 degrees from the Large Magellanic Cloud (bottom) to supergiant star Canopus (upper left). "I didn't expect the tail to be so long," says Yoneto. "[To show the full extent of it], I made a two minute exposure using my Canon EOS Kiss X2 digital camera set to ISO1600." He also captured a satellite traveling along the star field parallel to the comet's tail.

The Ghost of Comet Lovejoy is still putting on a good show.

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

POLAR STRATOSPHERIC CLOUDS: An apparition of polar stratospheric clouds is underway around the Arctic Circle. "It is almost as good as the aurora borealis," says Göran Strand, who took this picture last night from Östersund, Sweden:

Eric Schandall of Oslo, Norway, adds this report: "We have seen them for three evenings over Oslo, with the ones on Jan. 13th being the most dramatic and beautiful so far."

Also known as "nacreous" or "mother of pearl" clouds, these icy clouds form in the lower stratosphere when temperatures drop to around minus 85ºC. Sunlight shining through tiny ice particles ~10µm across produce the characteristic bright iridescent colors by diffraction and interference.

"Nacreous clouds far outshine and have much more vivid colours than ordinary iridescent clouds, which are very much poor relations and seen frequently all over the world," writes atmospheric optics expert Les Cowley. "Once seen they are never forgotten."


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

  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 16, 2012 there were 1272 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Recent & Upcoming Earth-asteroid encounters:
Asteroid
Date(UT)
Miss Distance
Mag.
Size
2012 AW10
Jan 9
3.4 LD
--
31 m
2012 AQ10
Jan 16
2.2 LD
--
22 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
73.4 LD
--
1.4 km
1996 SK
Apr 18
67.2 LD
--
1.6 km
2007 HV4
Apr 19
4.8 LD
--
8 m
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.
STEREO
  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
Heliophysics
  the underlying science of space weather
Science Central
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  more links...
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