Scheduled image interruption, weekend of 27 September 2014

Due to some necessary infrastructure upgrades, users of Helioviewer Project clients will experience an interruption in the availability of AIA images, HMI images, and HEK feature and event data, over the weekend of 27-28 September. We apologize for this interruption. Data from all other instruments should update as normal. Normal service with respect to AIA, HMI and the HEK will be restored as soon as possible.

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Helioviewer API tools for multiple platforms now available

The Helioviewer Project maintains a set of public APIs with the goal of improving access to solar and
heliospheric datasets to scientists, educators, developers, and the general public. Helioviewer.org and JHelioviewer are two client applications that make use of the Helioviewer API. You can build your own. The API is fully described at our API documentation page. Examples of usage are also provided.

For easy access to API responses within your code, check out the open-source libraries available at Unirest.io. Libraries are provided for integration with Python, PHP, Java, Ruby, Objective-C, Node.js, .NET, and Windows 8 code bases.

The API is also available via Mashape – check it out here.

The combination of our API documentation page and the Unirest.io libraries puts solar and heliospheric image data in your hands so you can develop your own applications. If you have any questions regarding usage of the API, please send us an email at contact@helioviewer.org.

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Follow the Helioviewer Project on Twitter

The Helioviewer Project is now on Twitter, @Helioviewer.

twitter_hv

Please follow us on Twitter for the latest solar and heliospheric news and movies, as well as new Helioviewer Project features.

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Strong geomagnetic storm expected and a scrubbed launch

Yesterday, many users posted movies of the first X-class flare of 2014:

from Youtube user otraLoly

from Youtube user Jorge Armando Cazares

As a result of this flare and the accompanying coronal mass ejection, the
Space Weather Prediction Center of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) are anticipating strong Geomagnetic Storm conditions to occur on January 9 and 10.

The high level of radiation due to this eruptive event also led to the scrubbing of a resupply mission to the International Space Station (ISS).

Thanks again to our users for sharing their movies!

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Comet ISON is approaching

Comet ISON will shortly appear in images from our suite of Sun-watching instruments available via the Helioviewer Project. It has already been seen in images from the Heliospheric Imager onboard STEREO.

Comet ISON will first appear in LASCO C3 at 02:00 UT on Wednesday 27th November, and will appear in the LASCO C2 field-of-view at 13:00 UT on Thursday 28th November.

Path of COMET ISON as seen from SOHO

Path of COMET ISON as seen from SOHO LASCO C2 and C3 coronagraphs.

The comet will exit the LASCO C2 field of view at C2 field-of-view at 23:00 UT on Thursday November 28, and the C3 field-of-view at 23:00 UT on Friday, 29th November.

Comet ISON will also move in to the SDO field of view. SDO is taking special observations of the passage of the comet in order to learn more about what happens to a comet so close to the Sun. You’ll be able to see some of the latest available images from SDO at http://cometison.gsfc.nasa.gov/#.

Please note that images will not be available precisely the times mentioned here since it takes time for the data to be downloaded from their spacecraft and processed on the ground. We will endeavor to ensure that all out users will be able to see this rare event

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Normal Helioviewer services now resumed

Full Helioviewer Project services originating at NASA – helioviewer.org, JHelioviewer and the Helioviewer API – are now back up and running. Over the next couple of days we will be backfilling in missing data from the period October 1 – 17, 2013. Thanks to our colleagues at the Space Influences Data Center (SIDC) at the Royal Observatory of Belgium for providing Helioviewer services in that period.

JHelioviewer users who edited their user profile files to use the ROB server can switch back to using Helioviewer services at NASA by removing the edits

We thank you for your patience over the past couple of weeks.

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Temporary Helioviewer services now online

Our colleagues at the Space Influences Data Center (SIDC) at the Royal Observatory of Belgium have kindly brought a Helioviewer server online at http://swhv.oma.be/helioviewer/. The webpage provides AIA 171 and 304 images taken once every 10 minutes. PROBA2-SWAP images (at full cadence) are also provided.

Users of JHelioviewer on Mac OS X can also use the Helioviewer server at SIDC to stream movies. Go to your JHelioviewer directory and look for the subdirectory “Settings”. Add these lines to the user.properties file:

API.dataSources.path=http\://swhv.oma.be/helioviewer/api/?action\=getDataSources&verbose\=true&enable\=[PROBA2]
API.jp2images.path=http\://swhv.oma.be/helioviewer/api/
API.jp2series.path=http\://swhv.oma.be/helioviewer/api/

Many thanks to our colleagues at the Royal Observatory of Belgium for providing their resources in support of the Helioviewer Project.

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Helioviewer services to cease temporarily

All Helioviewer services (helioviewer.org, JHelioviewer and any use of the API) will cease temporarily in the next few hours. Users of helioviewer.org will be re-directed to notice.usa.gov. Users of JHelioviewer will not be able to stream movies from the main Helioviewer server. Users of the API will not receive any data from their requests.

Helioviewer services are ceasing temporarily due to a partial shutdown of the US federal government.

We apologize for the interruption to our service. Normal service will be resumed as soon as possible. Please keep checking this blog for further updates.

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User highlight: prominence motions

YouTube and Helioviewer.org user CuriousTess shared two two colour movie of a prominence coming over the solar limb. The first one shows the prominence at the solar limb:

and the second one shows the same feature further onto disk:

These movies show motions in a solar prominence. Prominences are clouds of relatively cool plasma magnetically suspended in the hotter surrounding solar atmosphere. By studying the motions and oscillations in a prominence, we can gain insight into their dynamic structure. A longer term research goal is to understand what makes some prominences unstable and erupt into space, while others don’t.

This image in the AIA 304 channel shows the same prominence:

2013_08_15_11_24_21_AIA_304

You can see from this picture that the prominence extends for a considerable distance, and appears to bend.

Thanks for sharing these movies, CuriousTess!

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Temporary delay in AIA and HMI data

We are currently experiencing some issues in the pipeline that brings SDO AIA and HMI data to Helioviewer.org. The problem is being diagnosed and the latest images should be available shortly. We apologize for this delay in bringing you the latest images of the Sun.

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UPDATE: new functionality for the Earth scale tool

In response to user feedback, the Earth scale tool (located in the bottom left hand corner of the viewer window) has some new functionality:

(1) The Earth scale tool can now be toggled on/off using the diagonal arrow in the top left corner. When toggled off, it looks like this:

earth scale down

and the viewer window looks like this

fullscreen with earth toggle off_red_box

You can see the Earth scale toggle in the bottom left hand corner highlighted by the red box. When the Earth scale in the “off” mode, it does not appear in any screenshots or movies, for example:

2013_07_27_13_00_07_HMI_Int_earth_down

When the toggle is on, the Earth scale appears in your movies and screenshots:

2013_07_27_13_00_07_HMI_Int_earth_toggled_on

Pressing the diagonal arrow in the Earth scale tool

earth_scale_up

at any time returns the Earth scale tool to the bottom left hand corner and sets it to “off” so it will not appear in any screenshots or movies.

(2) The Earth scale tool is now draggable to anywhere in the viewer window. This makes it easier to compare the size the Earth to solar and heliospheric events; for example,

2013_07_27_13_00_07_HMI_Int_earth_up

Sunspots are pretty big, and that coronal hole is enormous, compared to the Earth.

We hope you enjoy this updated capability. We welcome your feedback regarding Helioviewer. If you have any other ideas about how Helioviewer can be improved, we’d love to hear them! Thanks!

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NEW: Solar features and events from the Heliophysics Event Knowledgebase

The Sun has many different features and events of great scientific interest. It’s useful to be able to catalog those features and measure their properties. By doing so, we can build up more knowledge about the Sun.

The Heliophysics Event Knowledgebase (HEK) is one such catalog. The HEK collects and stores information about many different types of solar feature – active regions, flares, etc, from many different sources around the world. Each solar feature and event can be detected in different ways. Some features and events are detected by people looking at the data, and some are detected by specialized computer vision algorithms.

We’ve taken the information in the HEK and designed a simple interface to allow you to find out what features and events occurred on the Sun at any given time. We’ve organized the information in the HEK by feature/event. You may need to reload helioviewer.org to get the latest version which includes the HEK.

HV intro: Screenshot from 2013-07-16 10:18:37

The numbers at the end of each line tell you the total number of features/events of each type on the Sun at that time. You can select any combination of features and events you want (green tick marks), or you can select none. If you’ve selected a particular type of feature/event but the text is faded out, this means that there are none of those particular feature/events at the time you’ve requested. If you browse forward and backwards and time and those feature/events are in the HEK, helioviewer.org will display them.

We then break down the total number of features/events by feature recognition method. We do this because different feature recognition methods can give different results for the same feature/event type. You can select any combination of the available feature recognition methods, or you can select none. For example, the active regions on the Sun at this time were detected using two different feature recognition methods:

HV Intro: Screenshot from 2013-07-16 10:19:05

The numbers at the end of each line tell you how many active regions were detected by SPoCA (a computer vision algorithm) and the NOAA SWPC Observer (people looking at the data).

Here’s a typical view of some AIA 304 data with the HEK features and events overplotted.

HV Intro: Screenshot from 2013-07-16 10:29:31

Each of the marker pins corresponds to the feature/event detected by a feature recognition method. Clicking on them pulls up much more information on each individual event. Each of the marker pins also has a small label attached to it with an important piece of information concerning that feature/event. We’ve also extended the movie and screenshot capability so that your selected feature/event markers and labels appear in any movies and screenshots you make.

Finally, in the bottom left-hand corner of the viewer window you’ll see a small image of the Earth. This is the size of the Earth on the same scale as the solar and heliospheric images. This also appears in movies and screenshots of the Sun. Full information on using helioviewer.org can be found by clicking the help link at the bottom of the helioviewer.org webpage.

The HEK is the result of much work by many different people around the world. We are happy to be able to present data from this great solar and heliospheric resource in Helioviewer.org.

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Users highlights: spectacular prominences

Yesterday the Sun showed off a series of spectacular prominence eruptions that were recorded by many users.
Prominences are relatively cool, dense clouds of plasma that lie suspended in Sun’s magnetic field, sometimes for weeks. Occasionally, they become unstable and they erupt.

YouTube user 38starman posted these full disk movies of the Sun. The first is in AIA 304: this waveband sees plasma at around 50,000 K

and this is taken in PROBA2 173

It is possible that one event may have triggered another. Understanding the connection between separate events is a big part of Solar Dynamics Observatory science.

YouTube user коля павл posted a close-up of the prominence towards the south, this time in AIA 131

AIA 131 picks up temperatures at around 400,000 K, 10,000,000 K and 16,000,000 K. By looking at the AIA 304 images, it seems more likely that the prominence has plasma at around 50,000 and 400,000 K. The hotter temperatures that AIA 131 can see occur in flares, which are much more dynamic events than prominences. This is a good example demonstrating that the images we see can contain features at different temperatures.
Multiple wavebands really help us understand the true temperature of features on the Sun.

Thanks to 38starman and коля павл for sharing these movies!

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Over one million movies created

We’ve reached an amazing milestone thanks to you, our users. Users of Helioviewer.org and Jhelioviewer have created over one million movies since we started counting them in February 2011. This represents an incredible amount of interest from you – our users – in the Sun and the inner heliosphere. We’d like to thank you for your continued interest in exploring our star and its influence in interplanetary space.

The millionth movie was of one hour’s worth of data from the Atmospheric Imaging Assembly (AIA) on SDO, focusing on this small but fast ejection from the Sun.

This led to a faint and extended coronal mass ejection seen in LASCO C2.

The coronal mass ejection was noticed in many different online catalogs of features and events in the Sun, but the original eruption was not. This is an example of how users are finding events on the Sun which are sometimes overlooked.

Just before the millionth movie, someone made this movie of one week of solar activity. This movie shows many different flares and eruptions of all sizes over the course of a week. Also, about 10 seconds into the movie (beginning around 2013-04-17 16:30 UT), you can see that black edges appear on all sides of the field of view. This is caused by the SDO spacecraft pointing slightly away from the center of the Sun for short periods of time. SDO does this to enable measurements of the AIA and HMI detectors. These measurements are a regular and normal part of running the AIA and HMI instruments, and allow us to keep track of the degradation of the detectors.

We’ll be adding new functionality and datasets to the Helioviwer Project in the next few months. We are committed to making it easy for everyone everywhere to explore the Sun and inner heliosphere, in the way you want. We hope that you continue to enjoy using Helioviewer.org and Jhelioviewer. If you have any ideas on how we can improve our service, please let us know.

Finally we’d like to thank the many NASA, ESA and JAXA funded organizations that have made the Helioviewer Project possible.

Thanks!

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Coming up: Comet ISON in November 2013

You may have heard of Comet ISON, a comet discovered last year that is currently approaching the Sun. It is expected to be visible in the SOHO-LASCO C2 and C3: from SOHO’s viewpoint the comet enters from the lower right early on November 27 and exits towards the top near the end of November 30 this year.

Path of COMET ISON as seen from SOHO

Path of COMET ISON as seen from SOHO LASCO C2 and C3 coronagraphs.

It will also be visible from the COR1 and COR2 instruments on board both STEREO spacecraft. The SOHO Hotshot webpage for Comet ISON has many more links to more details on the path of the comet as seen from SOHO and STEREO. At the moment it looks like this, as seen by the Hubble Space Telescope. It might be a spectacular sight from Earth. The appearance of comets from Earth is hard to predict because how it looks when it gets closer to the Sun depends on the details of its composition. We’ll have to wait and see!

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