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Solar wind
speed: 470.4 km/sec
density: 3.3 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2348 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: C1
1748 UT Oct12
24-hr: C1
1748 UT Oct12
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2300 UT
Daily Sun: 12 Oct 15
None of these sunspots poses a threat for strong flares. Solar activity remains low. Credit: SDO/HMI

Sunspot number: 36
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 12 Oct 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%)

Updated 12 Oct 2015

The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 85 sfu
explanation | more data
Updated 12 Oct 2015

Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
Credit: NOAA/Ovation
Planetary K-index
Now: Kp= 4 unsettled
24-hr max: Kp= 5
explanation | more data
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 7.4 nT
Bz: 2.3 nT south
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2348 UT
Coronal Holes: 12 Oct 15

A solar wind stream flowing from this sprawling northern coronal hole could reach Earth as early as Oct.12-13. Credit: SDO/AIA.
Noctilucent Clouds The northern season for NLCs is finished. According to NASA's AIM spacecraft, the last clouds were observed over Greenland on Aug. 27th. Now the waiting begins for the southern season expected to begin in November.
Switch view: Europe, USA, Asia, Polar
Updated at: 09-01-2015 09:00:00
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2015 Oct 12 2200 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
05 %
05 %
01 %
01 %
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 Oct 12 2200 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
30 %
35 %
10 %
20 %
01 %
05 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
15 %
10 %
35 %
30 %
40 %
55 %
Monday, Oct. 12, 2015
What's up in space

Marianne's Heaven On Earth Aurora Chaser Tours invites you to join them in their quest to find and photograph the Aurora Borealis. Experience the winter wonderland in the Tromsø Area.

Chase the Light Tours

AFTER LAST WEEK'S "MASSIVE AURORAS," WHAT WILL THIS WEEK BRING? Arctic sky watchers are still buzzing about last week's 3-day outburst of Northern Lights. Many veteran observers ranked it as the brightest display they had seen in years. Photographer Ole Salomonsen was one of them. "On Friday, Oct. 9th, I was treated with perhaps the most massive aurora I have ever witnessed," he says. "They appeared right over my hometown, Tromsø, Norway."

"The auroras were so strong that many of my shots were overexposed," he continues. "I had to continuously lower the exposure not to burn out the auroras. I have never in my life witnessed this amount of pink auroras, just MASSIVE!"

The display was caused by shock waves from a CIR (co-rotating interaction region), which hit Earth on Oct. 7th, followed by a stream of high-speed solar wind on Oct. 8th and 9th. Strong geomagnetic storms sparked Northern Lights as far south as Virginia, USA.

Another stream of solar wind is coming. ETA: Oct.12-13. Without another CIR to "pre-condition" Earth's magnetic field, however, this week's solar wind stream will probably have less effect. NOAA forecasters estimate a 60% chance of minor G1-class geomagnetic storms on Oct.12th. Aurora alerts: text or voice

Realtime Aurora Photo Gallery

MORNING SKY SHOW, IT'S ABOUT TO GET BETTER: All month long, "morning people" have been watching planets converge in the pre-dawn sky. Venus, Jupiter, and Mars are all visible in the east before sunrise. Pete Lawrence sends this picture from a beach in Selsey, West Sussex, UK

"This was the view at daybreak on Oct. 9th," says Lawrence. "Venus, Mars and Jupiter gathered together with the crescent Moon. What a great way to start the day!"

The view is about to get even better. For the rest of the month, the planets will draw closer and closer together until Oct. 24th - Oct. 29th when they fit within a circle only 5o wide (sky maps: #1, #2, #3, #4, #5, #6). Typical binoculars can see a patch of sky about 6o or 7o degrees wide.  So when the triangle of planets shrinks to 5o, they will all fit inside a binoculars field of view. Imagine looking through the eyepiece and seeing three planets--all at once.

By the time October comes to an end, the planetary triangle will start breaking apart.  But there are still two dates of special interest:  Nov. 6th and 7th (sky maps: #1, #2).  On those increasingly wintry mornings, the crescent Moon will swoop in among the dispersing planets for a loose but beautiful conjunction.

Look east before sunrise. There's a lot to see."

Realtime Space Weather Photo Gallery

Realtime Eclipse Photo Gallery

Realtime Sprite Photo Gallery

  Cosmic Rays in the Atmosphere
Situation Report -- Oct. 8, 2015 Stratospheric Radiation (+37o N)
Cosmic ray levels are elevated (+6.2% above the Space Age median). The trend is flat. Cosmic ray levels have increased +0% in the past month.
Sept. 06: 414 uRad/hr
Sept. 12: 409 uRad/hr
Sept. 23: 412 uRad/hr
Sept. 25: 416 uRad/hr
Sept. 27: 413 uRad/hr
These measurements are based on space weather balloon flights, described below.

Introduction: Once a week, and sometimes more often, and the students of Earth to Sky Calculus fly "space weather balloons" to the stratosphere. These balloons are equipped with radiation sensors that detect cosmic rays, a form of space weather important to people on Earth. Cosmic rays can alter the chemistry of the upper atmosphere, seed clouds, spark exotic forms of lightning, and penetrate commercial airplanes. This last point is of special interest to the traveling public. Our measurements show that someone flying back and forth across the continental USA, just once, can absorb as much ionizing radiation as 2 to 5 dental X-rays. From now on we will present the results of our regular weekly balloon flights in this section of our web site. Here is the radiation profile from our latest flight:

Radiation levels peak at the entrance to the stratosphere in a broad region called the "Pfotzer Maximum." This peak is named after physicist George Pfotzer who discovered it using balloons and Geiger tubes in the 1930s. Radiation levels there are nearly 100x sea level.

Note that the bottom of the Pfotzer Maximim is near 55,000 ft. This means that some high-flying aircraft are not far from the zone of maximum radiation. Indeed, according to the Sept. 27th measurements, a plane flying at 45,000 feet is exposed to 288 uRads/hr. At that rate, a passenger would absorb about one dental X-ray's worth of radiation in 5 hours.

The radiation sensors onboard our helium balloons detect X-rays and gamma-rays in the energy range 10 keV to 20 MeV. These energies span the range of medical X-ray machines and airport security scanners.

Stay tuned for improvements to this section in the days and weeks ahead as we develop a glossary and better plain language strategies for communicating this information. Suggestions are welcomed.

  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 Oct. 12, 2015, the network reported 26 fireballs.
(22 sporadics, 3 Orionids, 1 Southern Taurid)

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 October 12, 2015 there were 1618 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Recent & Upcoming Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
2015 TQ21
Oct 7
1 LD
15 m
2015 TC144
Oct 8
8.5 LD
61 m
2015 TM21
Oct 9
11.4 LD
28 m
2000 FL10
Oct 10
65.7 LD
1.9 km
2015 TN21
Oct 10
2.3 LD
17 m
2015 TB25
Oct 11
9.5 LD
55 m
2015 TK21
Oct 12
4.8 LD
24 m
2015 TG24
Oct 12
4 LD
18 m
2015 TC25
Oct 13
0.3 LD
5 m
2011 QD48
Oct 17
67.5 LD
1.0 km
2014 UR
Oct 18
3.8 LD
21 m
2011 SE97
Oct 18
11.9 LD
50 m
2015 TD144
Oct 20
11.7 LD
137 m
2001 UY4
Oct 21
58.2 LD
1.0 km
2015 TZ143
Oct 22
4.2 LD
26 m
2005 UL5
Nov 20
5.9 LD
390 m
2003 EB50
Nov 29
48.8 LD
2.2 km
2007 BG29
Dec 1
54.1 LD
1.1 km
1998 WT24
Dec 11
10.9 LD
1.1 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
Columbia Northern High School
  Web-based high school science course with free enrollment
  more links...
©2015 All rights reserved. This site is penned daily by Dr. Tony Phillips.
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