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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Solar wind
speed: 398.9 km/sec
density: 12.2 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2343 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: B4
2148 UT Jan30
24-hr: C1
0440 UT Jan30
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2300 UT
Daily Sun: 30 Jan 12
A new sunspot is emerging just south of AR1410. Otherwise, solar activity is very low. Credit: SDO/HMI
Sunspot number: 74
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 29 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 29 Jan 2012

The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 110 sfu
explanation | more data
Updated 29 Jan 2012

Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
Planetary K-index
Now: Kp= 3 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 3
explanation | more data
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 8.0 nT
Bz: 1.4 nT north
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2346 UT
Coronal Holes: 30 Jan 12
There are no big coronal holes on the Earthside of the sun. Credit: SDO/AIA.
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2012 Jan 30 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 Jan 30 2200 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
05 %
05 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
05 %
05 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
Monday, Jan. 30, 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

CHANCE OF AURORAS: NOAA forecasters estimate a 30% chance of minor geomagnetic storms on Jan. 30th in response to a possible glancing blow from a coronal mass ejection (CME). The CME is from last Friday's off-center X-flare. High-latitude sky watchers should be alert for auroras. Aurora alerts: text, voice.

ARIZONA AURORAS: The geomagnetic storm of Jan. 24th produced some spectacular auroras around the Arctic Circle. Unnoticed by most observers, the Northern Lights reached all the way down to Arizona. In Payson, AZ, a robotic camera system operated by amateur astronomer Chris Schur captured the telltale green glow:

"From sunrise to sunset, our automated robotic camera system with a fish-eye lens recorded the northern half of the sky every five minutes," says Schur. "When reviewing all the frames taken during this night of massive auroral storming to the north, I discovered that the display had reached us, too. The normally neutral grey sky to the north suddenly at around 3am glowed an intense green hue for only about half an hour, then returned to normal. Although we have some airglow visible on many nights here photographically, we never get one this bright. I suspect I was actually getting the topmost layers of the aurora which was seen in its entirety in the northern US that evening."

The auroras were not visible to the unaided eye. It took a five-minute exposure by a low-light astronomy camera to reveal the faint and distant lights. These "deep-sky auroras" are a promise of bigger things to come--maybe even naked-eye auroras in Arizona--as solar maximum approaches in 2013. "The sun," says Schur, "is finally waking up!"

January 2012 Aurora Gallery
[previous Januaries: 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2005, 2004]

WINTER PLANETS: All weekend long, sky watchers marveled at a beautiful sunset display of planets. Jupiter, the fat crescent Moon, and Venus formed a bright line in the western sky, as shown in this Sunday night photo from Vesa Vauhkonen of Rautalampi, Finland:

"The winter landscape was brightly illuminated by moonlight," says Vauhkonen. "There was a half meter of snow on the ground and a definite nip in the air. The temperature outside was -25 C!"

Consider this a preview of even better things to come. Venus and Jupiter are converging, and when the Moon swings around the sky to meet them again in late February, they will form a triangle in the sky less than 15o wide. Key dates to watch are Feb. 25 and 26. After that, Venus and Jupiter will converge even more until, on March 12th, the two bright planets will form a double-beacon in the sunset sky only 3o apart. In fact, throughout the first three weeks of March, Venus and Jupiter will be less than 10o apart, close enough to hide behind your outstretched palm. The winter planet show is just getting started, so stay tuned.

more images: from P-M Hedén of Vallentuna, Sweden; from Daryl Pederson of Kihei, Maui, HI; from Tamas Abraham of Perbal, Hungary; from Stuart Atkinson of Cumbria, UK; from Alan C Tough of Elgin, Moray, Scotland; from Mariusz Rudziński of Mirostowice Dolne, Poland; from Boris Kozelov of Apatity, Murmansk region, Russia

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 January 30, 2012 there were 1272 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Recent & Upcoming Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
2012 BY1
Jan 24
2 LD
30 m
1991 VK
Jan 25
25.3 LD
1.9 km
2012 BW13
Jan 26
1.7 LD
16 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
2.3 km
2011 YU62
Mar 16
73.4 LD
1.4 km
1996 SK
Apr 18
67.2 LD
1.6 km
2007 HV4
Apr 19
4.8 LD
8 m
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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