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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Solar wind
speed: 403.3 km/sec
density: 2.2 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2341 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: B3
2234 UT Feb01
24-hr: C1
0441 UT Feb01
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2300 UT
Daily Sun: 01 Feb 12
All of the sunspots on the Earthside of the sun are quiet. Credit: SDO/HMI
Sunspot number: 71
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 31 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 31 Jan 2012

The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 117 sfu
explanation | more data
Updated 31 Jan 2012

Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
Planetary K-index
Now: Kp= 1 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 2
explanation | more data
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 5.5 nT
Bz: 2.8 nT south
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2346 UT
Coronal Holes: 01 Feb 12
Solar wind flowing from the indicated coronal hole could reach Earth on Feb. 3-4. Credit: SDO/AIA.
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2012 Feb 01 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 Feb 01 2200 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
10 %
15 %
01 %
05 %
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
15 %
20 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2012
What's up in space

Don't just watch shooting stars. Wear them! Authentic meteorite jewelry for Valentine's Day is now available in the SpaceWeather Store.

Meteorite jewelry

AURORA WATCH: NOAA forecasters estimate a 15% chance of minor geomagnetic storms on Feb. 3rd in response to the expected arrival of a solar wind stream. High-latitude sky watchers should be alert for auroras.

FARSIDE ERUPTION: Sunspot AR1402, the source of last week's X-flare and many beautiful auroras, is on the farside of the sun now. Although we can't see it, the active region is still erupting. During the late hours of Jan. 31st, the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory observed this coronal mass ejection flying over the sun's western limb:

The cloud is heading in the direction of NASA's STEREO-Ahead spacecraft, which witnessed the explosion from directly above the sunspot. An initial inspection of the data suggests that no planets are in the line of fire.

If AR1402 hangs together for another two weeks, it will complete its transit of the farside and re-emerge on the Earthside of the sun. A return is unlikely, however, because sunspots rarely last for more than one solar rotation.

ASTROPHOTO-OP: Astrophotographers, ready your cameras. On Friday morning, February 3rd, Comet Garradd (C/2009 P1) will pass approximately 0.5 degrees from globular cluster M92 in Hercules. Last night, Rolando Ligustri took this picture of the converging pair using a remotely-controlled 106mm telescope in New Mexico:

The ten minute exposure shows the comet's fan-shaped dust tail, which roughly traces the comet's orbit, and its pencil-thin gas tail, which points almost directly away from the sun due to the action of the solar wind.

The star cluster and the comet are both located in the constellation Hercules, high overhead in northern hemisphere skies before sunrise. Sky and Telescope offers a sky map of the comet's path. Observers with computerized GOTO telescopes can track the comet by plugging in orbital elements from the Minor Planet Center.

At the moment, Comet Garradd has an astronomical magnitude of +6.5, invisible to the naked eye but an easy target for backyard telescopes. Forecasters expect it to brighten by a factor of ~2 in the weeks ahead as the comet approaches Earth for a 1.3 AU close encounter in early March. This could be a good time to invest in a Comet Hunter.

more images: from Lorenzo Comolli of Bogli, Italy; from Gregg Ruppel of Ellisville, MO; from Mike Broussard of Maurice, Louisiana; from Dr Paolo Candy of Ci.A.O. Cimini Astronomical Observatory - Italy

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 February 1, 2012 there were 1287 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Recent & Upcoming Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
1991 VK
Jan 25
25.3 LD
1.9 km
2012 BW13
Jan 26
1.7 LD
16 m
2012 BA102
Jan 26
2.6 LD
22 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
2.4 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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