You are viewing the page for Jan. 21, 2015
  Select another date:
<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids Internet Shopping Sites high quality binoculars excellent weather stations all-metal reflector telescopes rotatable microscopes
Solar wind
speed: 502.6 km/sec
density: 0.4 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2349 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: C5
2230 UT Jan21
24-hr: C9
1142 UT Jan21
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2300 UT
Daily Sun: 21 Jan 15
Not one of these sunspots poses a threat for strong flares. Solar activity remains low. Credit: SDO/HMI

Sunspot number: 57
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 21 Jan 2015

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 0 days
2015 total: 0 days (0%)

2014 total: 1 day (<1%)
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%)

Update 21 Jan 2015

The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 126 sfu
explanation | more data
Updated 21 Jan 2015

Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
Credit: NOAA/Ovation
Planetary K-index
Now: Kp= 4 unsettled
24-hr max: Kp= 4
explanation | more data
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 11.7 nT
Bz: 6.4 nT south
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2350 UT
Coronal Holes: 21 Jan 15
A Solar wind flowing from these polar coronal holes could brush past Earth's magnetic field on Jan. 23-25. Credit: SDO/AIA.
Noctilucent Clouds As of Nov. 22, 2014, the season for southern hemisphere noctilucent clouds is underway. The south polar "daisy" pictured below is a composite of near-realtime images from NASA's AIM spacecraft.
Switch view: Ross Ice Shelf, Antarctic Penninsula, East Antarctica, Polar
Updated at: 01-21-2015 18:55:04
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2015 Jan 21 2200 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
25 %
25 %
05 %
05 %
Geomagnetic Storms:
Probabilities for significant disturbances in Earth's magnetic field are given for three activity levels: active, minor storm, severe storm
Updated at: 2015 Jan 21 2200 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
30 %
30 %
15 %
15 %
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
15 %
15 %
30 %
30 %
45 %
45 %
Wednesday, Jan. 21, 2015
What's up in space

Learn to photograph Northern Lights like a pro. Sign up for Peter Rosen's Aurora Photo Courses in Abisko National Park.

Lapland tours

SLIGHTLY LESS QUIET: Solar activity is still low. However, an active region just behind the sun's southeastern limb is beginning to crackle with C-flares solar flares. This slight uptick in flare activity could herald something more as the unseen sunspot rotates to face Earth in the days ahead. Stay tuned for updates. Solar flare alerts: text, voice

BRIGHT ASTEROID FLYBY: A large asteroid is about to fly past Earth. On the night of Jan. 26-27, mountain-sized space rock 2004 BL86 will be only 3 times farther from us than the Moon. There's no danger of a collision, but the flyby will be easy to observe. Sunlight reflected from the surface of 2004 BL86 will make it glow like a 9th magnitude star. Amateur astronomers with even small backyard telescopes will be able to see it zipping among the stars of the constellation Cancer. Check out this video, prepared by the Sociedad de Astronomia del Caribe, for detailed observing tips:

NASA radars will be observing, too. As the asteroid passes by, astronomers will use the Deep Space Network antenna at Goldstone, California, and the giant Arecibo radar in Puerto Rico to "ping" 2004 BL86, pinpointing the asteroid's location and tracing its shape.

"When we get our radar data back the day after the flyby, we will have the first detailed images," said radar astronomer Lance Benner of JPL, the principal investigator for the Goldstone radar observations of the asteroid.  "At present, we know almost nothing about this asteroid, so there are bound to be surprises."  

At the moment, astronomers think the asteroid is about a third of a mile (0.5 kilometers) in diameter. The flyby of 2004 BL86 will be the closest by any known space rock this large until asteroid 1999 AN10 flies past Earth in 2027.  

Realtime Space Weather Photo Gallery

BALLOONING INTO THE SUNSET: On Jan. 14th, and the students of Earth to Sky Calculus launched a Space Weather Balloon to monitor cosmic rays. Unlike most of their launches, which happen in broad daylight, this one occurred at the end of the day. During the ascent into the stratosphere, the golden rays of the setting sun played across the fabric of the expanding balloon, painting it with all the colors of the sunset before the balloon was finally swallowed by darkness:

This was the 68th launch in the group's space weather ballooning program. The purpose of this particular flight was to measure high-altitude cosmic rays, which have been growing stronger since late Dec. 2014. Cosmic rays are energetic particles accelerated in our direction by active galactic nuclei, distant supernovas, and other sources across the Milky Way. Because these particles pepper Earth from all directions, it does not matter what time of day the Space Weather Balloons take off. Clearly, though, sunset launches have a special beauty.

The balloon's payload, which carried two radiation sensors to the stratosphere, traveled more than 94,000 feet high before the balloon popped (in darkness) and parachuted back to Earth, landing in Death Valley National Park. A recovery team had to hike more than 18 miles to retrieve the payload. A first look at the sensors suggests that excellent radiation data were collected during the flight. Later this week, the team hopes to present a summary of recent measurements, so stay tuned.

Hey thanks! This flight was sponsored by the folks at VetRocket, developers of high quality digital radiography products for veterinary applications. Here is their logo en route to the stratosphere:

VetRocket's generous donation of $500 made it possible to buy the helium and other supplies necessary to get our Space Weather Balloon off the ground.

Readers, if you would like to sponsor a flight and support the students involved in this research, please contact Dr. Tony Phillips for details.

ICY ARCTIC SUNSET: Yesterday in Rovaniemi, Finland, shortly after local noon, photographer Alexander Kuznetsov stepped outside to watch the sun set. He quickly scrambled back inside to grab his camera. This is why:

"The conditions were freezing, -20°C, but I was rewarded with this extraordinary view: a laser-like sun beam flanked by rainbow-colored sundogs!" says Kuznetsov.

Kuznetsov was standing on a hill looking across an ice-filled valley. Ice crystals floating in the air caught the rays of the setting sun, forming a lower sun pillar, a sub-sun, and two sub-sundogs. Many observers have seen pillars of light and other halo above the sun. These appeared below the sun because that's where the ice crystals were.

The winter months are prime time for Arctic subparhelia. Monitor the photo gallery for more sightings.

Realtime Comet Photo Gallery

Realtime Aurora 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. 21, 2015, the network reported 36 fireballs.
(36 sporadics)

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 21, 2015 there were 1537 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Recent & Upcoming Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
1991 VE
Jan 17
40.6 LD
1.0 km
2015 AK1
Jan 18
5.6 LD
50 m
2015 BC
Jan 20
1.6 LD
63 m
2015 BP
Jan 20
1.8 LD
10 m
2015 BK4
Jan 25
5.3 LD
44 m
2015 BF
Jan 25
9.3 LD
19 m
2004 BL86
Jan 26
3.1 LD
680 m
2015 AK45
Jan 26
4.7 LD
22 m
2008 CQ
Jan 31
4.8 LD
36 m
2015 AZ43
Feb 15
7.7 LD
87 m
2000 EE14
Feb 27
72.5 LD
1.6 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...
©2010 All rights reserved. This site is penned daily by Dr. Tony Phillips.
©2019 All rights reserved.