SOUTHERN CORONAL HOLE: A hole in the sun's atmosphere--a "coronal hole"--has opened up in the sun's southern hemisphere, and it is spewing a stream of solar wind into space. Extreme UV cameras onboard NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory photographed the dark gap during the early hours of Jan. 23rd.
Coronal holes are places in the sun's atmosphere where the sun's magnetic field opens up and allows solar wind to escape. A stream of solar wind flowing from this particular coronal hole should reach Earth's orbit on Jan. 26-27. Whether it will actually hit our planet is unknown. Because of the coronal hole's high southern latitude, the solar wind it emits might miss our planet, sailing high over our own South Pole. High-latitude sky watchers should nevertheless remain alert for auroras.
AWASH IN JUPITER RADIO BURSTS: The planet Jupiter is a powerful source of shortwave radio bursts. They come from natural radio lasers in the giant planet's polar magnetosphere that sometimes sweep past Earth as Jupiter rotates.
On Jan. 21st, as Jupiter and the Moon were converging high in the midnight sky, a series of Jupiter's radio laser beams hit Earth. Amateur astronomer Thomas Ashcraft recorded the static-y sounds coming from the loudspeaker of his shortwave radio telescope in New Mexico ([go to www.spaceweather.com to listen].