Solaris News

I've added this "Solaris News" page with associated RSS feed - hope you find it useful.

Solaris Widget 1.0 released

posted Aug 13, 2013, 10:54 AM by Tom O'Reilly

Finally at long last - the Solaris Widget is now available on Google Play!  Thanks again to everyone for your suggestions. The widget is free, and quite simple. If you own Solaris Alpha, you can configure the widget to open Solaris Alpha when the widget is tapped.

This simple widget displays solar and geomagnetic data from on your home screen. Many thanks to the folks at for making this data available! Tap the widget to open the Solaris Alpha application,, or the NOAA Space Weather Prediction Center home page for more information.

When you install the widget onto your phone's home screen, a configuration dialog allows you to select what happens when you tap the widget. To change this preference, remove the widget from the home screen and then add it back to the home screen.

Widget icons and labels indicate the power of the strongest recent solar flare, the current sunspot number, and the current 2-hour average planetary Kp index (the probability of aurora increases with Kp index). These values are updated every thirty minutes.

Please email me if you encounter problems, or with suggestions to improve the widget - thanks!

Solaris Alpha 3.15 released

posted Apr 20, 2012, 3:57 PM by Tom O'Reilly

I've just released Solaris Alpha version 3.15, which adds two new options, in response to user requests:
  • Option to manually set aurora-monitor location (in addtion to phone's network or GPS location), allowing you to monitor aurora visibility from almost any point on Earth! Selecting this option displays a Google map with push-pin; drag the push-pin to the desired monitor location. I say "almost any point on Earth" because Google map's Mercator projection restricts choices to be less than 80 degrees latitude (north or south).
  • Option to monitor aurora visibility during daylight. Some users prefer to receive aurora alerts only during nighttime hours. Note however that the aurora is sometimes visible when the Sun is above the horizon, as shown in this video

Both features are accesible through the "Settings" option menu.

Thanks again for all of your suggestions - hope you enjoy this new version of the app!

NOAA auroral oval data is back!

posted Mar 14, 2012, 2:33 PM by Tom O'Reilly

The NOAA Space Weather Prediction Center aurora server is back on-line, as are the Solaris Alpha aurora maps! I should point out that the particular SWPC data product that enables projection onto Solaris' Earth globe view is an experimental non-standard SWPC product. Many thanks are due to the SWPC team for restoring this service! 

Moreover, I believe I may have introduced a bug when I added code to deal with the server outage - the app still sometimes displays the "Server is down" message, even though the server is up. The temporary fix is to press the "Refresh data" button in Solaris' options menu. I'll take a look at this issue.

Thanks again to all for your patience!

NOAA auroral oval data offline

posted Mar 2, 2012, 1:51 PM by Tom O'Reilly   [ updated Mar 2, 2012, 11:48 PM ]

As of about 9:00 PST this morning, the NOAA auroral oval images used by Solaris Alpha and referenced from this link are offline. I've sent a message to NOAA asking about this - hopefully the data will be restored soon. Thanks for your patience!

UPDATE: I have just learned that the NOAA auroral server will be off-line until approximately March 9. My apologies for this outage. Note that these files are NOT a standard NOAA data product, probably explaining the one-week turnaround. However this outage has exposed a problem in the way Solaris Alpha handles server outages; the cloud-sunlight map should update even if the auroral data isn't available. I will look into the problem as soon as possible.

UPDATE 2: I've uploaded Solaris Alpha version 3.11, which properly updates the sunlight-cloud, Kp index, and solar flare data even when the NOAA aurora images are not available.

Solaris Alpha 3.09 released

posted Feb 27, 2012, 10:15 PM by Tom O'Reilly

I've just released Solaris Alpha 3.09 to the Android Market - the cloud-sunlight Earth image is back on the air! This version makes more effective use of limited bandwidth and limited server capacities. Many of the changes were recommended by Aaron H. the webmaster at the excellent World Sunlight Map, which is the source of sunlight-cloud images displayed by Solaris Alpha. Many thanks to Aaron, and thanks also to Hugh M. who kindly tested Solaris Alpha on several of his Android devices. Thanks to you all for your support and patience.

Still have a cloud map problem... but progress!

posted Feb 21, 2012, 3:39 PM by Tom O'Reilly

Despite several attempted fixes this weekend, Solaris still encounters errors when it attempts to retrieve cloud map data. But after talking with the webmaster of the cloud map server, I understand why; the webmaster is blocking access by Android apps, including Solaris. He took this step after an Android app made repeated image requests separated by 5 seconds, from a single phone, chewing up his server bandwidth. It's not clear which application made the requests - it is very possible that early, buggy Solaris versions still in the field are responsible. The webmaster has very kindly agreed to give Solaris access to the data again, after I've made changes to the app that will eliminate the chance for bad behavior. Hopefully I'll make these changes in the next few days, and Solaris' cloud display will be back on the air!

Problems with Earth map

posted Feb 13, 2012, 7:15 PM by Tom O'Reilly

In the past few days, the Earth map displayed by Solaris Alpha has not been updating properly. I apologize for this problem, and am working on a solution. The glitch is compounded by the fact that the hard drive on my development machine just crashed (yes, and my dog chewed up the software - enough of my lame excuses!) At any rate, a new hard drive is on order, and I expect to have this problem fixed within a few days. Thank you all for your patience!

Flare site is accessible again

posted Oct 27, 2011, 8:56 AM by Tom O'Reilly

The LMSAL site is accessible again as of 16:00 UTC today.

Lateset flare info site is down

posted Oct 25, 2011, 7:14 PM by Tom O'Reilly

Solaris Alpha retrieves solar flare information from the excellent Lockheed-Martin Solar and Astrophysics Lab site. Several users have noted that the site has been inaccessible for at least twenty four hours. I've contacted the site administrator, and hopefully the site will be up again soon.

Solaris Alpha 2.89 released

posted Mar 28, 2011, 8:48 PM by Tom O'Reilly

I've just released Solaris Alpha version 2.89, which implements a few new much-requested features.
  • The Earth and Sun globes can now be rotated independently of one another (previously both globes would always be displayed with the same orientation).
  • You can now save the orientations ("viewpoints") of the Earth and Sun globes and recall them later.  For example, you can position the Earth globe such that your GPS position is centered, then select "More->Save viewpoint" from the options menu. Likewise you can orient the Sun globe such that it appears as viewed from Earth. Then at any time you can select "More->Recall viewpoint" to restore the orientation of the currently-displayed globe. When the app is restarted, the globes are displayed with the last-saved orientations.
I hope you enjoy these new features - as always, I welcome your feedback.

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