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Solar wind
speed: 378.2 km/sec
density: 2.8 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2350 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: C1
1935 UT Jan13
24-hr: M5
0424 UT Jan13
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2300 UT
Daily Sun: 13 Jan 15
Sunspot AR2257 has a 'beta-gamma-delta' magnetic field that harbors energy for X-class solar flares. Credit: SDO/HMI

Sunspot number: 111
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 13 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 13 Jan 2015

The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 159 sfu
explanation | more data
Updated 13 Jan 2015

Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
Credit: NOAA/Ovation
Planetary K-index
Now: Kp= 2 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 3
explanation | more data
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 6.8 nT
Bz: 1.9 nT north
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2350 UT
Coronal Holes: 13 Jan 15
There are no large coronal holes on the Earthside of the sun. 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: 01-07-2015 23:55:08
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2015 Jan 13 2200 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
45 %
40 %
10 %
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 13 2200 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
10 %
30 %
01 %
15 %
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
15 %
15 %
20 %
30 %
10 %
40 %
Tuesday, Jan. 13, 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

SOLAR FLARE AND RADIO BLACKOUT (UPDATED): Sunspot AR2257 erupted on Jan. 13th, producing an M5-class solar flare at 04:24 UT. A pulse of extreme UV radiation from the flare ionized Earth's upper atmosphere over Australia and the Indian Ocean. Mariners and ham radio operators may have noticed a brief communications blackout at frequencies below about 10 MHz. This map from NOAA shows the affected region:

Incoming coronagraph data from the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) show no significant CME emerging from the blast site. This means no there will be no Earth-CME collision, and no geomagnetic storms as a result of this event. The effects of the flare are therefore finished.

More flares could be in the offing. AR2257 has an unstable 'beta-gamma-delta' magnetic field that seems poised to explode again. NOAA forecasters estimate a 40% chance of M-class flares and a 10% chance of X-flares on Jan. 13th. Solar flare alerts: text, voice

Realtime Space Weather Photo Gallery

SPACE WEATHER BUOYS INVESTIGATE COSMIC RAYS: Did you know...? The flux of cosmic rays around Earth has been increasing for the past week. To investigate, and the students of Earth to Sky Calculus are launching a series of Space Weather Buoys to the stratosphere. Carred aloft by helium balloons, each Buoy carrries a pair of radiation sensors, a GPS altimeter, and multiple cameras to record the flight. Here is the view from 111,100 feet captured by a Buoy launched on Jan. 10th:

In the lower right of this picture, visible through a wide gap in the clouds, is Bishop, CA, the small mountain town where most of the student researchers live. HQ is located in the Sierras overlooking Bishop, underneath a bank of white, fluffy clouds.

Another launch is scheduled for tomorrow, Jan. 14th. By the end of the week we hope to share data showing how atmospheric radiation levels are responding to the ongoing uptick in cosmic rays.

Hey thanks! The Jan. 10th flight was made possible by a generous donation of $500 from reader Jack Jewell. A picture of Jack crossing the finish line of a 50-mile ultramarathon flew to the stratosphere on top of the Bouy. Here it is in flight:

Readers, if you would like to follow in Jack's footsteps to the stratosphere by sponsoring a flight, please contact Dr. Tony Phillips to make arrangements.

Realtime Space Weather Photo Gallery

THE "OTHER" MILKY WAY: On Jan. 11th, Michael Jäger of Weißenkirchen, Austria, photographed a milky band meandering through the constellation Taurus. It was not, however, the Milky Way. Click on the image to discover its identity:

It is the tail of Comet Lovejoy (C/2014 Q2), which now stretches more than 10o across the sky. For comparison, that is 20 times the width of a full Moon. The actual Milky Way is made of stars. The tail of Comet Lovejoy is made of ionized gas, and it is considerably more dynamic. Earlier this month, a magnetic storm in the comet's tail caused a "disconnection event" and a blob of plasma to propagate down the long gaseous structure.

Comet Lovejoy's tail is faint. Considerable skill is required to photograph its delicate streamers and meandering blobs. However, almost anyone can see the comet's head, which is now glowing like a 4th magnitude star in the constellation Taurus. It is visible to the unaided eye from dark-sky sites far from cities, and it is an easy target for backyard telescopes even in light-polluted urban areas. Check Sky & Telescope for finder charts. Also, the Minor Planet Center has published an ephemeris for accurate pointing of telescopes.

Realtime Comet Photo Gallery

SUNSET PLANETS: Hold your index finger at arm's length. Observe the width of the fingertip. That's the distance between Venus and Mercury in the sunset sky. The two planets have converged to form a tight pair visible from towns and cities around the world. Paolo Bardelli sends this picture, taken Jan. 12th, from Schiranna (Varese), Italy:

To observe the conjunction, look west at the end of the day. Venus pops out of the twilight first, followed by Mercury. If you can't see Mercury, wait a while for the sky to darken, or scan the area around Venus using binoculars to reel in the fainter planet. The two worlds will appear close together for the next week. A date of special interest is Jan. 21st when the crescent Moon will join Mercury and Venus to form a sunset triangle about 5o wide. Stay tuned for that.

Sunset Planets 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. 13, 2015, the network reported 16 fireballs.
(14 sporadics, 2 alpha Hydrids)

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 13, 2015 there were potentially hazardous asteroids.
Recent & Upcoming Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
2014 YP34
Jan 4
8.8 LD
26 m
2007 EJ
Jan 12
68.9 LD
1.1 km
1991 VE
Jan 17
40.6 LD
1.0 km
2015 AK1
Jan 18
5.6 LD
58 m
2004 BL86
Jan 26
3.1 LD
650 m
2008 CQ
Jan 31
4.8 LD
36 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...
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