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CME MISSES. AURORAS ANYWAY? A CME expected to sideswipe Earth's magnetic field on Jan. 16th missed. There might be auroras this weekend anyway. NOAA forecasters estimate a 50% chance of polar geomagnetic storms on Jan. 17-18 in response to an incoming solar wind stream. Aurora alerts: text, voice
SOMETHING AMAZING HAPPENING AT JUPITER: Jupiter and Earth are converging for a (relatively) close encounter in early February when the giant planet is at opposition--that is, directly opposite the sun in the midnight sky. This sets the stage for an extraordinary sequence of events. For the next couple of months, backyard sky watchers can see the moons of Jupiter executing a complex series of mutual eclipses and transits. Astrophotographer "Shiraishi" Kumagaya-shi, Saitama, Japan, captured this example on Jan. 17th:
"First, Ganymede partially eclipsed Callisto; then Europa partially eclipsed Io," says Shiraishi. "I did not need a telescope. To photograph this double mutual event, I used a Nikon Coolpix P510 digital camera set at ISO 800 for a series of 1/10s exposures."
The moons of Jupiter will be passing in front of one another and in front of Jupiter with fair frequency through March 2015 and beyond. This is happening because Jupiter's opposition on Feb. 6th coincides almost perfectly with its equinox on Feb. 5th (when the Sun crosses Jupiter's equatorial plane). It is an edge-on apparition of the giant planet that lends itself to eclipses, occulations and transits.
The next big event is right around the corner. On Jan. 24, 2015, beginning at approximately 06:26 UT (1:26 AM EST), the three moons Io, Callisto and Europa will simultaneously cast their inky shadows on Jupiter's cloudtops. This is called a "triple shadow transit," and it is rare. The timing favors observers in North America where the planet will be shining high in the sky in the constellation Leo. Anyone with a backyard telescope is encouraged to watch this easy-to-observe event. (Advice: Start watching at least 30 minutes ahead of time.)
Realtime Space Weather Photo Gallery
SPACE WEATHER BUOYS INVESTIGATE COSMIC RAYS: Did you know...? The flux of cosmic rays around Earth has been increasing for the past week. To investigate, spaceweather.com and the students of Earth to Sky Calculus are launching a series of Space Weather Buoys to the stratosphere. Carred aloft by helium balloons, each Buoy carrries a pair of radiation sensors, a GPS altimeter, and multiple cameras to record the flight. Here is the view from 111,100 feet captured by a Buoy launched on Jan. 10th:
In the lower right of this picture, visible through a wide gap in the clouds, is Bishop, CA, the small mountain town where most of the student researchers live. Spaceweather.com HQ is located in the Sierras overlooking Bishop, underneath a bank of white, fluffy clouds.
Another launch happened yesterday, Jan. 14th. By the end of the week we hope to share data showing how atmospheric radiation levels are responding to the ongoing uptick in cosmic rays.
Hey thanks! The Jan. 10th flight was made possible by a generous donation of $500 from spaceweather.com reader Jack Jewell. A picture of Jack crossing the finish line of a 50-mile ultramarathon flew to the stratosphere on top of the Bouy. Here it is in flight:
Readers, if you would like to follow in Jack's footsteps to the stratosphere by sponsoring a flight, please contact Dr. Tony Phillips to make arrangements.
Realtime Aurora Photo Gallery
Every night, a network of NASA all-sky cameras scans the skies above the United States for meteoritic fireballs. Automated software maintained by NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office calculates their orbits, velocity, penetration depth in Earth's atmosphere and many other characteristics. Daily results are presented here on Spaceweather.com.
On Jan. 17, 2015, the network reported 24 fireballs.
(22 sporadics, 1 lambda Bootid, 1 xi Coronae Borealid)
In this diagram of the inner solar system, all of the fireball orbits intersect at a single point--Earth. The orbits are color-coded by velocity, from slow (red) to fast (blue). [Larger image] [movies]
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 17, 2015 there were potentially hazardous asteroids. 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.
| ||The official U.S. government space weather bureau |
| ||The first place to look for information about sundogs, pillars, rainbows and related phenomena. |
| ||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 |
| ||Realtime and archival images of the Sun from SOHO. |
| ||from the NOAA Space Environment Center |
| ||the underlying science of space weather |