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SpaceWeather.com -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
 
Solar wind
speed: 290.4 km/sec
density: 3.0 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2344 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: C1
2011 UT Jan23
24-hr: M8
0359 UT Jan23
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2300 UT
Daily Sun: 23 Jan 12
Sunspots 1401 and 1402 pose a threat for M-class solar flares. Credit: SDO/HMI
Sunspot number: 103
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 22 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 22 Jan 2012


The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 141 sfu
explanation | more data
Updated 22 Jan 2012

Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
Credit: NOAA/POES
Planetary K-index
Now: Kp= 1 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 4
unsettled
explanation | more data
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 7.3 nT
Bz: 1.9 nT south
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2345 UT
Coronal Holes: 23 Jan 12
Solar wind flowing from the indicated coronal hole should reach Earth on Jan. 27-28. Credit: SDO/AIA.
SPACE WEATHER
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2012 Jan 23 2200 UTC
FLARE
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
CLASS M
60 %
60 %
CLASS X
10 %
10 %
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 23 2200 UTC
Mid-latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
ACTIVE
15 %
30 %
MINOR
35 %
15 %
SEVERE
20 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
ACTIVE
20 %
40 %
MINOR
50 %
25 %
SEVERE
30 %
10 %
 
Monday, Jan. 23, 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

RADIATION STORM IN PROGRESS: Solar protons accelerated by this morning's M9-class solar flare are streaming past Earth. On the NOAA scale of radiation storms, this one ranks S3, which means it could, e.g., cause isolated reboots of computers onboard Earth-orbiting satellites and interfere with polar radio communications. An example of satellite effects: The "snow" in this SOHO coronagraph movie is caused by protons hitting the observatory's onboard camera.

ALMOST-X FLARE AND CME (UPDATED): This morning, Jan. 23rd around 0359 UT, big sunspot 1402 erupted, producing a long-duration M9-class solar flare. The explosion's M9-ranking puts it on the threshold of being an X-flare, the most powerful kind. NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory captured the flare's extreme ultraviolet flash:

The Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) and NASA's STEREO-B spacecraft detected a CME rapidly emerging from the blast site: movie. Analysts at the Goddard Space Weather Lab say the leading edge of the CME will reach Earth on Jan. 24 at 14:18UT (+/- 7 hours). Their animated forecast track shows that Mars is in the line of fire, too; the CME will hit the Red Planet during the late hours of Jan. 25.

This is a relatively substantial and fast-moving (2200 km/s) CME. Spacecraft in geosynchronous, polar and other orbits passing through Earth's ring current and auroral regions could be affected by the cloud's arrival. In addition, strong geomagnetic storms are possible, so high-latitude sky watchers should be alert for auroras. Magnetic storm alerts: text, voice.

JAN. 22ND CME IMPACT: Arriving a little later than expected, a coronal mass ejection (CME) hit Earth's magnetic field at 0617 UT on Jan. 22nd. According to analysts at the Goddard Space Weather Lab, the CME strongly compressed Earth's magnetic field and briefly exposed satellites in geosynchronous orbit to solar wind plasma. For the next 24 hours, Earth's magnetic field reverberated from the impact, stirring bright auroras around the Arctic Circle. Bjørn Jørgensen observed this display from Tromsø, Norway:

"This was amazing," he says. "It was a wonderful experience to see these stunning auroras."

NOAA forecasters estimate a 10% - 25% chance of continued geomagnetic storms tonight as effects from the CME impact subside. The odds will increase again on Jan. 24-25 as a new CME (from today's M9-clare) approaches Earth. High-latitude sky watchers should remain alert for auroras. Aurora alerts: text, voice.

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

The Jan. 22nd CME also disturbed Earth's ionosphere. In Atlanta, Georgia, radio engineer Pieter Ibelings monitored a 4.5 MHz CODAR (coastal radar) signal as it bounced off layers of ionization along the US east coast. "The moment of impact can be clearly seen on the CODAR radar plot," he points out:

"The CODAR transmitters are located all around the coast and are used for mapping the ocean currents to a distance of about 200 miles," Ibelings explains. "These signals also propagate through the ionosphere so they can be picked up all around the world. The signals are almost perfect for ionospheric sounding since they are linear chirps. I capture the chirp with a receiver locked to GPS both in frequency and time. I then de-chirp the waveform so I can extract the time of arrival information at my location."

The CODAR echoes show ionization layers shifting vertical position by some hundreds of kilometers, changes that surely affected the propagation of HF radio signals in the aftermath of the impact. More information about Ibelings' observations may be found here.


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 23, 2012 there were 1272 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Recent & Upcoming Earth-asteroid encounters:
Asteroid
Date(UT)
Miss Distance
Mag.
Size
2012 BZ13
Jan 18
9.1 LD
--
29 m
2012 BL14
Jan 20
1.2 LD
--
10 m
2012 BV1
Jan 20
0.8 LD
--
3 m
2012 BS1
Jan 23
3.1 LD
--
9 m
2012 BY1
Jan 24
2 LD
--
31 m
1991 VK
Jan 25
25.3 LD
--
1.9 km
2012 BW13
Jan 26
1.7 LD
--
17 m
2012 BD14
Jan 30
5.8 LD
--
20 m
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
--
1.3 km
1996 SK
Apr 18
67.2 LD
--
1.6 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.
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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