Solaris News

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

Solaris Alpha 3.31 - not supported on Gingerbread and older

posted Jan 24, 2015, 9:55 PM by Tom O'Reilly   [ updated Jan 24, 2015, 10:47 PM ]

I've just released Solaris Alpha 3.31.

This release is targeted for devices running HoneyComb or newer - and will NOT run on devices with Gingerbread or earlier. I've encountered problems in making the app compatible with these older devices (Gingerbread was released in 2011).  Google stats tell me that about 15% of devices running Solaris Alpha are on Gingerbread or earlier, but I don't know how many of those users are actually using the app. If you are running Gingerbread or earlier and you'd like continued support, please send me an email at

The app now displays a soft menu button in the "action bar" running across the top of the screen. So far I've been unable to make the app completely backwards compatible to earlier versions - and version 3.31 will NOT run on devices with Gingerbread or earlier. 

This version replaces the now-discontinued NOAA SWPC "POES" auroral oval with their new "Ovation" 30-minute forecast of aurora visibility. The app uses a yellow-red color scale rather then the SWPC's green-red scale, as the latter does not stand out on a small screen. On another aesthetic note: the Ovation data do not cover as much of the hemisphere as the old POES data - hence the "hole" in the global cloud data is often (painfully!) visible. The global cloud data is built from weather satellites in equatorial orbit - hence clouds near the poles are not visible, resulting in the "holes". I hope to address this problem either by finding a cloud dataset that includes the poles, or perhaps by filling in the holes in an acceptable way. Stay tuned!

More changes

posted Jan 18, 2015, 10:33 AM by Tom O'Reilly   [ updated Jan 18, 2015, 10:36 AM ]

Alert users will notice that the Solaris non-realtime Sun images have a date of 18-Aug-2014 - that is the date on which the last high-bandwidth data were received from the spacecraft. As noted in an earlier update, an antenna overheating problem prevents download of this data given the current alignment of spacecraft, Sun, and Earth - the STEREO team now estimates full data will be restored in early 2016 ( The STEREO team also announced that all contact with the "STEREO B" spacecraft has been lost ( - last contact was on October 1, following a test procedure. The team holds out some hope that contact may be reestablished and continues to try. Note that even if STEREO B is lost permanently, Solaris will still be able to display at least partial data in the Sun view, as that image is a combination of STEREO A and Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) data. 

I'm now working to integrate NOAA's excellent "Ovation" auroral prediction data ( into Solaris, which will replace the "power flux" POES auroral oval currently displayed on Solaris' Earth view.  NOAA has informed me that the auroral oval power flux data is being permanently discontinued. So look for app updates in the coming weeks!

Back on the Air!

posted Jan 6, 2015, 11:40 PM by Tom O'Reilly

Solaris Alpha version 3.29 has been published - the app now properly retrieves data from the new NOAA SWPC website. Thanks everyone for your patience and support!

Earth view problems

posted Dec 22, 2014, 10:56 AM by Tom O'Reilly

NOAA Space Weather Prediction Center has restructured their website. Since Solaris gets much of the information displayed in its 'Earth view' (auroral oval, Kp graph), some of those items are no longer displayed properly. Very sorry about this inconvenience, I will get these bugs fixed ASAP.

NASA announces STEREO data outage

posted Oct 8, 2014, 11:15 PM by Tom O'Reilly   [ updated Oct 9, 2014, 8:28 PM ]

Bad news - the NASA STEREO science team has discovered unexpected spacecraft antenna issues at the current Sun-Earth-spacecraft geometry. As a result, the antennas cannot be pointed directly at Earth for several months, resulting in drastically reduced image data return. Hence Solaris Alpha does not have access to recent STEREO data - and nor does anyone else. NASA says that normal science operations will resume in early December 2014. Sorry about this news...  More details are at the NASA STEREO site:

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.

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