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Solar wind
speed: 474.0 km/sec
density: 2.4 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2346 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: M4
1946 UT Jan04
24-hr: M4
1946 UT Jan04
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2300 UT
Daily Sun: 04 Jan 14
Growing sunspot AR1944 has a 'beta-gamma' magnetic field that harbors energy for M-class solar flares. Credit: SDO/HMI
Sunspot number: 162
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 04 Jan 2014

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 0 days
2013 total: 0 days (0%)
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

04 Jan 2014

The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 182 sfu
explanation | more data
Updated 04 Jan 2014

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: 4.4 nT
Bz: 1 nT south
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2347 UT
Coronal Holes: 04 Jan 14
Earth is inside a stream of solar wind flowing from the indicated coronal hole. Credit: SDO/AIA. posts daily satellite images of noctilucent clouds (NLCs), which hover over Earth's poles at the edge of space. The data come from NASA's AIM spacecraft. The north polar "daisy" pictured below is a composite of near-realtime images from AIM assembled by researchers at the University of Colorado's Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (LASP).
Noctilucent Clouds
Switch view: Europe, USA, Asia, Polar
Updated at: 01-04-2014 11:55:02
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2014 Jan 04 2200 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
75 %
75 %
30 %
30 %
Geomagnetic Storms:
Probabilities for significant disturbances in Earth's magnetic field are given for three activity levels: active, minor storm, severe storm
Updated at: 2014 Jan 04 2200 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
05 %
05 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
15 %
15 %
15 %
15 %
05 %
05 %
Saturday, Jan. 4, 2014
What's up in space

When is the best time to see auroras? Where is the best place to go? And how do you photograph them? These questions and more are answered in a new book, Northern Lights - a Guide, by Pal Brekke & Fredrik Broms.

Northern Lights - a Guide

A SLIVER OF VENUS: Venus is turning its night side toward Earth as it approaches inferior solar conjunction on Jan. 11th. Less than 2% of Venus's sunlit hemisphere is now facing us, which means the planet looks like an incredibly slender crescent. If you have a GOTO telescope, command it to slew to Venus this evening. Be careful, though, because Venus is only 11o from the blinding sun. [photo gallery]

GIANT SUNSPOT: Sunspot AR1944, which appeared on January 1st, is one of the largest sunspots of the current solar cycle. It's so big, people are noticing it as a naked-eye blemish on the solar disk. Daisuke Tomiyasu sends this picture from Higashinada-ku, Kobe, Hyogo, Japan:

"Sunspot 1944 was visible at sunrise on January 4th," says Tomiyasu. "I combined three exposures of 1/15sec, 1/100sec, and 1/640sec to create this HDR (high dynamic range) image."

Aside: Look carefully at the full-sized picture. There is a red fringe on the bottom of the sun and a green fringe on top. That's real. The colorful fringes are caused by refraction in Earth's atmosphere. The effect is explained here.

Although the sunspot has been relatively quiet and stable since it first appeared on New Year's Day, a region of this size has the potential to produce significant activity. Indeed, NOAA forecasters, who say they are keeping a close eye on this behemoth, estimate a 75% chance of M-flares and a 30% chance of X-flares on Jan. 4th. Solar flare alerts: text, voice.

Realtime Space Weather Photo Gallery

GREEN VORTEX OVER SWEDEN: For the second day in a row, a solar wind stream is buffeting Earth's magnetic field, sparking intermittant geomagnetic storms and auroras around the Arctic Circle. Last night, Northern Lights tour guide Chad Blakley photographed a luminous green vortex over Sweden's Abisko National Park:

"Tonight was one of those nights that makes being an aurora photographer the best job in the world," says Blakley. "The lights started around 5:00 PM and continued well into the night. I had the pleasure of spending the evening with Peter Richards, a representative of National Geographic student photography expeditions. At one point during our night under the stars I heard him say that the display was the most amazing thing he had ever seen in his life - I couldn't agree more!"

NOAA forecasters estimate a 20% chance of more polar geomagnetic storms on Jan. 4th as the solar wind continues to blow. Aurora alerts: text, voice.

Realtime Aurora Photo Gallery

Realtime Venus Photo Gallery

Realtime Comet Photo Gallery

  All Sky Fireball Network

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

On Jan. 4, 2014, the network reported 35 fireballs.
(19 sporadics, 14 Quadrantids, 1 lambda Bootid, 1 December Leonis Minorid)

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]

On Jan. 3, 2014, the network reported 27 fireballs.
(14 sporadics, 13 Quadrantids)

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]

  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, 2014 there were potentially hazardous asteroids.
Recent & Upcoming Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
2011 YD29
Dec 28
6.1 LD
24 m
2014 AA
Jan 2
0.001 LD
3 m
2013 YL2
Jan 3
3.6 LD
101 m
2013 YM48
Jan 6
8.8 LD
32 m
2013 YV102
Jan 7
6.7 LD
34 m
2007 SJ
Jan 21
18.9 LD
1.9 km
2012 BX34
Jan 28
9.6 LD
13 m
2006 DP14
Feb 10
6.2 LD
730 m
2000 EM26
Feb 18
8.8 LD
195 m
2000 EE14
Mar 6
64.6 LD
1.8 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
Space Weather Alerts
  more links...
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