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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Solar wind
speed: 602.6 km/sec
density: 1.9 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2347 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: B1
2118 UT Jan07
24-hr: B5
1520 UT Jan07
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2300 UT
Daily Sun: 07 Jan 11
Sunspot 1142 is rapidly fading away. Credit: SDO/HMI
Sunspot number: 28
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 06 Jan 2011

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 0 days
2011 total: 0 days (0%)
2010 total: 51 days (14%)
2009 total: 260 days (71%)
Since 2004: 819 days
Typical Solar Min: 486 days

Updated 06 Jan 2011

The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 87 sfu
explanation | more data
Updated 06 Jan 2011

Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
Planetary K-index
Now: Kp= 2 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 4
explanation | more data
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 3.2 nT
Bz: -0.0 nT
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2347 UT
Coronal Holes: 07 Jan 10
Earth is inside a solar wind stream flowing from the indicated coronal hole. Credit: SDO/AIA.
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2011 Jan 07 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: 2011 Jan 07 2200 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
20 %
20 %
10 %
10 %
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
30 %
30 %
15 %
15 %
01 %
01 %
Friday, Jan. 7, 2011
What's up in space

Turn your cell phone into a field-tested satellite tracker. Works for Android and iPhone.

Satellite flybys

NACREOUS CLOUD ALERT: Auroras aren't the only colors in the polar sky. Observers around the Arctic Circle are reporting vivid, iridescent nacreous clouds, which form in the stratosphere during the coldest months of northern winter. "Once seen they are never forgotten," says Marketa Stanczykova who photographed these specimens outside Reykjavik, Iceland, on Jan. 4th. Another onlooker in Reykjavik, Albert Jakobsson, describes how "the beautiful colors played in the clouds and kept going for about one and half hour after sunset."

AURORA WATCH : As expected, a solar wind stream hit Earth's magnetic field during the early hours of Jan. 7th. The impact sparked a G1-class (Kp=5) geomagnetic storm and bright auroras around the Arctic Circle. "It was just amazing," says Kjetil Skogli, who sends this picture from Tromsø, Norway:

"The display began with a faint band in the north and quickly developed into several spectacular waves with extreme high speed rays," he says.

The lights were so intense, they could be seen as far away as Northern Ireland. "The glow was faint, but definitely there," reports Martin McKenna of Maghera, Co. Derry.

High latitude sky watchers should remain alert for auroras as the solar wind continues to blow.

more images: from Timo Newton-Syms of Ruka, Finland; from Bernt Olsen of Tromsø, Norway; from Frank Olsen of Tromsø, Norway;

EXPLODING COMET FRAGMENTS: According to counts from around the world, the Quadrantid meteor shower peaked during the early hours of Jan. 4th with nearly 100 shooting stars per hour. The source of the Quadrantids is shattered comet 2003 EH1. During the peak, Mike Hankey watched a fragment explode just above his home in Freeland, Maryland:

"Here's a video of a Quadrantid fireball and the smoke trail it left behind," says Hankey. "It took 10 minutes for the trail to dissipate." The fireball itself produced a magnitude -9 flash, about ten times brighter than Venus.

Observers say most Quadrantids were faint, but the shower was spiced by occasional fireballs such as the one Hankey recorded. Browse the gallery for more exploding fragments:

NEW: 2011 Quadrantid Meteor Gallery
[international meteor counts] [meteor text alerts]

Solar Eclipse Photo Gallery

December 2010 Aurora Gallery
[2010 Recap: Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr, May, Jun, Jul, Aug, Sept, Oct, Nov, Dec]


  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 7, 2011 there were 1167 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Recent & Upcoming Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
2011 AD3
Dec 29
9.4 LD
21 m
2010 YD
Jan 2
6.7 LD
21 m
2011 AF3
Jan 6
4.8 LD
41 m
2008 EA32
Jan 7
76.5 LD
2.1 km
2011 AN4
Jan 9
5.1 LD
23 m
2011 AN1
Jan 10
5.5 LD
12 m
2009 BS5
Jan 11
3.4 LD
14 m
2003 YG118
Feb 20
67.7 LD
1.8 km
2000 PN9
Mar 10
45.5 LD
2.6 km
2002 DB4
Apr 15
62.5 LD
2.2 km
2008 UC202
Apr 27
8.9 LD
10 m
2009 UK20
May 2
8.6 LD
23 m
2008 FU6
May 5
75.5 LD
1.2 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
  more links...
©2010 All rights reserved. This site is penned daily by Dr. Tony Phillips.
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