You are viewing the page for Jan. 28, 2012
  Select another date:
<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Solar wind
speed: 433.3 km/sec
density: 0.2 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2344 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: B5
1812 UT Jan28
24-hr: C2
0118 UT Jan28
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2300 UT
Daily Sun: 28 Jan 12
None of the spots on the Earthside of the sun pose a threat for strong flares. Credit: SDO/HMI
Sunspot number: 39
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 26 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 26 Jan 2012

The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 128 sfu
explanation | more data
Updated 26 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: 5.3 nT
Bz: 4 nT south
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2346 UT
Coronal Holes: 27 Jan 12
Solar wind flowing from the indicated coronal hole should reach Earth on Jan. 28-29. Credit: SDO/AIA.
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2012 Jan 28 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 28 2200 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
10 %
40 %
01 %
15 %
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
15 %
30 %
05 %
30 %
01 %
05 %
Saturday, Jan. 28, 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: Accelerated by yesterday's X-flare, energetic protons from the sun are swarming around Earth on Jan. 28th. The radiation storm ranks S2 on NOAA scales, which means this is not a severe storm. Nevertheless, it can still affect spacecraft and satellites at the nuisance level. For instance, this coronagraph image from SOHO is clouded by protons hitting SOHO's onboard digital camera.

ANNULAR SOLAR ECLIPSE: A "ring of fire" solar eclipse is coming to the USA this spring. It's the first annular eclipse visible from the contiguous United States in almost 18 years. Science@NASA has the full story and a video.

X-FLARE (UPDATED): Departing sunspot 1402 unleashed an X2-class solar flare on Jan. 27th at 18:37 UT. NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory recorded the extreme ultraviolet flash:

Sunspot 1402 is rotating onto the far side of the sun, so the blast site was not facing Earth. Nevertheless, energetic protons accelerated by the blast are now surrounding our planet, and an S2-class radiation storm is in progress.

The explosion also produced a spectacular coronal mass ejection (CME). A movie from the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory shows the cloud racing away from the sun at 2500 km/s or 5.6 million mph. Update: Work by analysts at the Goddard Space Weather Lab shows that the CME will just miss Earth when its edge passes by our planet on Jan. 30-31. Click to view an animated forecast track:

The cloud will deliver a glancing blow to Mars on Feb 1st and a nearly-direct hit to NASA's STEREO-Ahead spacecraft on Jan. 29th. Solar flare alerts: text, voice.

AURORAS OVER THE USA: The geomagnetic storm of Jan. 24th died out before night fell over North America--or did it? According to reports still trickling in, auroras were reported not only in Canada, but also in some of the lower 48 US states. Shawn Malone of Marquette, Michigan, took this picture looking north from the shores of Lake Superior:

"I got to view a slice of the aurora through a tiny opening in an otherwise completely overcast sky," says Malone. "It appeared to be a pretty decent display."

Prompted by the CME warning, Mike Hollingshead of Nebraska drove 450 miles to the Badlands National Park of South Dakota hoping to catch a glimpse of the auroras. He got more than he bargained for: "While I waited for some sign of auroras, the most amazing fireball I've ever seen blasts down. It flashed brightly and illuminated the terrain around me." Later, the auroras made a belated appearance, turning the badland sky green.

More auroras could be in the offing. A solar wind stream is heading for Earth, due to arrive on Jan. 28-29. NOAA forecasters estimate a 15% chance of geomagnetic storms at high latitudes. Aurora alerts: text, voice.

more images: from Stephan Hoglund of Grand Marais, Minnesota; from Kimberly S Mietzah Damkoehler of Houston, Alaska; from Robert Berdan of Calgary, Alberta; from Bob Conzemius of Lake of the Woods, Minnesota; from Matt Melnyk of Edmonton, Alberta; from Sylvain Serre of Ivujivik, Nunavik, Quebec, Canada;

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

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 28, 2012 there were 1272 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Recent & Upcoming Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
2012 BS1
Jan 23
3.1 LD
10 m
2012 BY1
Jan 24
2 LD
30 m
1991 VK
Jan 25
25.3 LD
1.9 km
2012 BW13
Jan 26
1.7 LD
16 m
2012 BX34
Jan 27
0.2 LD
13 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
1.4 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.
  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...
©2010 All rights reserved. This site is penned daily by Dr. Tony Phillips.
©2013 All rights reserved.