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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Solar wind
speed: 365.7 km/sec
density: 10.7 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2344 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: B8
2040 UT Jan05
24-hr: C2
1238 UT Jan05
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2300 UT
Daily Sun: 05 Jan 12
All of the sunspots on the Earthside of the sun are magnetically simple and quiet. Credit: SDO/HMI
Sunspot number: 101
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 04 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 04 Jan 2012

The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 136 sfu
explanation | more data
Updated 04 Jan 2012

Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
Planetary K-index
Now: Kp= 2 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 3
explanation | more data
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 8.9 nT
Bz: 7.1 nT north
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2346 UT
Coronal Holes: 05 Jan 12
There are no large coronal holes on the Earthside of the sun. Credit: SDO/AIA.
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2012 Jan 05 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 05 2200 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
10 %
30 %
01 %
10 %
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
15 %
15 %
20 %
35 %
10 %
40 %
Thursday, Jan. 5, 2012
What's up in space

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

Meteorite jewelry

BEAUTIFUL EXPLOSION: A magnetic filament in the sun's northern hemisphere erupted today, Jan. 5th, at approximately 1300 UT. The beautiful explosion hurled a CME in the general direction of Earth, but the cloud might sail north of our planet with little to no impact. Stay tuned for updates.

DOOMED MARS PROBE PHOTOGRAPHED: Russia's Mars probe, Phobos-Grunt, has been stranded in Earth orbit since a main engine failure in early November. The spacecraft is now sinking back into Earth's atmosphere, with re-entry expected in mid-January. "On New Year's Day, I traveled to the French Riviera (850km from home) to record Phobos-Grunt's last passage over France," says astrophotographer Thierry Legault. This is the picture he took through a 14-inch telescope:

"It appears that the satellite is moving backwards with its solar panels deployed but not receiving the sunlight," notes Legault. "This may explain why Phobos-Grunt had no energy to communicate with Earth." An 80-second video shows the probe soaring almost directly above Legault's observing site on the Plateau de Calern. "At the scale of the video the satellite would cross your screen in about 1/30s," he says.

While a telescope is required to see the outlines of the spacecraft, the human eye alone is sufficient to see Phobos-Grunt as a speck of light in the night sky. On high passes, it glows almost as brightly as a first magnitude star. Check SpaceWeather's online Satellite Tracker or your smartphone for flyby times.

QUADRANTID METEOR UPDATE: Yesterday, 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. Meteor rates peaked hours later and remained high hours longer than forecasters expected, which shows that we still have a lot to learn about the debris stream of 2003 EH1.

Zack Clothier of Thurman, New York, photographed this Quadrantid streaking over a lake in the Adirondacks:

"Temperatures were below zero here in the Adirondacks, but the sky put on such a show I stayed and watched it for four hours," says Clothier. "I counted nearly 60 meteors during that time, including this one shooting through the Milky Way. It was a wonderful night to be out under the stars, and one I definitely won't forget anytime soon!"

NASA's All-Sky Fireball Network recorded 20 fireballs during the shower's peak. Data from multiple cameras allowed the orbits of the meteoroids 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 Luis Argerich of Buenos Aires, Argentina; from John Cordiale of Queensbury, New York; from Chris Peterson of Guffey, Colorado; from Chris Allington of Crofton, Nebraska; from John Stetson of Falmouth, Maine; from Brian Emfinger of Ozark, Arkansas; from John Chumack of Dayton, Ohio; from Fredrik Broms of Kvaløya, Norway; from Wally Pacholka of Joshua Tree National Park in California; from Mohammad Mehdi Asgari of Zanjan, Iran; from Ronald Zincone of Richmond, Rhode Island; 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;

  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 5, 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
45 m
2011 YH40
Jan 16
5.4 LD
124 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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