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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Solar wind
speed: 317.8 km/sec
density: 4.3 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2343 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: B5
1706 UT Jan04
24-hr: C1
0902 UT Jan04
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2300 UT
Daily Sun: 04 Jan 12
All of the sunspots on the Earthside of the sun are magnetically simple and quiet. Credit: SDO/HMI
Sunspot number: 95
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 03 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 03 Jan 2012

The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 135 sfu
explanation | more data
Updated 03 Jan 2012

Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
Planetary K-index
Now: Kp= 1 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 1
explanation | more data
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 3.9 nT
Bz: 1 nT south
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2347 UT
Coronal Holes: 04 Jan 12
There are no large coronal holes on the Earthside of the sun. Credit: SDO/AIA.
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2012 Jan 04 2200 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
10 %
10 %
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 04 2200 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
05 %
10 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
15 %
15 %
20 %
20 %
10 %
10 %
Wednesday, Jan. 4, 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

QUIET SUN: Despite several large spots on the Earthside of the sun, the sun's x-ray output has flatlined. Solar activity is low, and likely to remain so for the next day or so. The chance of an M-class flare today is no more than than 10%.

FANTASTIC QUADRANTIDS: This morning, Jan. 4th, Earth passed through a stream of debris from shattered comet 2003 EH1. The encounter produced a strong display of Quadrantid meteors over the Atlantic side of our planet, as many as 80 per hour according to the International Meteor Organization. Fredrik Broms caught this one streaking over his home in Kvaløya, Norway:

"The Quadrantids of 2012 were fantastic," says Broms. "The display was dominated by fairly bright and fast meteors."

NASA's All-Sky Fireball Network recorded 20 fireballs during the outburst. Data from multiple cameras allowed the orbits of the meteoroiuds to be calculated, and they are shown here in a diagram of the inner solar system:

The green orbits are a good match for the orbit of the parent comet fragment 2003 EH1. Colors in the diagram correspond to velocity. The Quadrantids hit Earth's atmosphere traveling between 38 and 42 km/s (85,000 and 94,000 mph).

more images: from Pete Lawrence of Selsey, West Sussex, UK; from Didier Schreiner of Wormhout, France; from Renata Arpasova of Avebury, Wiltshire, UK; from Glenn Wester of Smithtown, New York; from Yu Jun of Beijing, China; from Sylvain Weiller of Saint Rémy lès Chevreuse, France; from Fredrik Broms of Kvaløya, Norway; from Pete Glastonbury of Devizes, Wiltshire, UK; from Samuel Todd of Madison, Alabama; from Richard Hay of Green Cove Springs, Florida; from Amirreza Kamkar of Qayen, Iran

FIRST AURORAS OF 2012: The first auroras of the New Year appeared over Canada on Jan. 2nd. "I was out with some friends when we looked up to see the Northern Lights suddenly blazing away over our heads," reports photographer Jesse Thompson of Inglis, Manitoba. Here is a self-portrait of Thompson enjoying the show:

The display was caused by the interplanetary magnetic field (IMF), which tipped south on Jan. 2nd and partially canceled Earth's own north-pointing magnetic field. A crack formed in Earth's magnetosphere, allowing solar wind to flow in and fuel the auroras. Aurora alerts: text, voice.

more images: from Jonathan Tucker of Whitehorse,Yukon; from Joseph Bradley of Whitehorse Yukon; from Andrei Penescu of Kangerlussuaq, Greenland; from Kristy Bruce near Dawson Creek, BC

  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 4, 2012 there were 1272 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Recent & Upcoming Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
2011 YE40
Dec 30
9.9 LD
41 m
2011 YB63
Jan 2
0.6 LD
5 m
2011 YL28
Jan 4
3.7 LD
46 m
2011 YH40
Jan 16
5.4 LD
130 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
73.8 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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