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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Solar wind
speed: 576.3 km/sec
density: 16.7 protons/cm3
more data: ACE, DSCOVR
Updated: Today at 2353 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: C1
1920 UT Sep12
24-hr: C3
0729 UT Sep12
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2300 UT
Daily Sun: 12 Sep 17
None of these sunspots poses a threat for strong solar flares. Credit: SDO/HMI

Sunspot number: 23
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 12 Sep 2017

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 0 days
2017 total: 56 days (22%)
2016 total: 32 days (9%)
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 Sep 2017

The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 80 sfu
explanation | more data
Updated 12 Sep 2017

Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
Credit: NOAA/Ovation
Planetary K-index
Now: Kp= 4 unsettled
24-hr max: Kp= 4
explanation | more data
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 10.3 nT
Bz: 3.4 nT north
more data: ACE, DSCOVR
Updated: Today at 2353 UT
Coronal Holes: 12 Sep 17

Solar wind flowing from this coronal hole could brush against Earth's magnetic field on Sept. 13th. Credit: NASA/SDO.
Noctilucent Clouds Latest images from NASA's AIM spacecraft show that the 2017 northern summer season for noctilucent clouds has finished.
Switch view: Europe, USA, Asia, Polar
Updated at: 09-03-2017 01:55:03
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2017 Sep 12 2200 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
01 %
01 %
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: 2017 Sep 12 2200 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
25 %
30 %
35 %
30 %
20 %
15 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
05 %
05 %
20 %
20 %
75 %
65 %
Tuesday, Sep. 12, 2017
What's up in space

Lights Over Lapland is excited to announce that our Customisable Aurora Adventures are available for immediate booking! Reserve your adventure of a lifetime in Abisko National Park, Sweden today!


THE CME HAS ARRIVED: Arriving earlier than expected, the flank of a CME hit Earth's magnetic field on Sept. 12th around 20:00 UT. G1- to G2-class geomagnetic storms are possible in the hours ahead as Earth moves deeper into the CME. If the G2-storm materializes, auroras in the USA could appear as low as New York to Wisconsin to Washington state. Free: Aurora Alerts

SOLAR RADIATION STORM AND GROUND LEVEL EVENT: On Sept. 10th, departing sunspot AR2673 erupted, producing a powerful X8-class solar flare. The explosion propelled a CME into space and accelerated a swarm of energetic protons toward Earth. Both are visible in this coronagraph movie from the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO):

The many specks in this movie are not stars--they are solar protons striking SOHO's digital camera. Almost two days later these protons are still streaming past our planet, causing a moderately strong (S2-class) solar radiation storm. The latest data from SOHO show an ongoing blizzard of digital "snow" in coronagraph images:

What made this flare so 'radioactive'? It has to do with the location of AR2673 at the time of the explosion. The sun's western limb is magnetically well-connected to Earth. Look at this diagram. Magnetic fields spiraling back from the blast site led directly to our planet, funneling these energetic protons Earthward.

Normally, solar radiation storms are held at bay by our planet's magnetic field and upper atmosphere. On Sept.10th, however, there was a "ground level event" (GLE). Neutron monitors in the Arctic, Antarctic, and several other high latitude locations detected a surge of particles reaching all the way down to Earth's surface:

The Bartol Research Institute's South Pole Neutron Monitor detected a GLE on Sept. 10th.

""In historical terms, this was a relatively small ground level event-- only about one thousandth as strong as the event of 23 Feb 1956, which is the largest measured," says Clive Dyer, a Visiting Professor at the University of Surrey Space Centre.

However, that does not mean the Sept.10th GLE was negligible. Dyer says that "passengers flying on high-latitude routes at 40,000 feet could have absorbed an extra 10 microSieverts of radiation. During the first hour of the GLE, the dose rate inside the aircraft during such a flight would have approximately doubled."

He also notes that the GLE could have caused minor upsets of onboard electronics and avionics, although nothing on the scale of the epic 1956 GLE, "which would be very challenging to modern systems."

"Since measurements began around 1942 there have now been 73 events detected by ground level radiation monitors," Dyer adds. "The Sept.10, 2017, event is far from the strongest, but it is of special interest because it demonstrates the need for continual vigilance even during Solar Minimum."

Realtime Space Weather Photo Gallery

ROSE QUARTZ CRYSTAL ECLIPSE PENDANTS: On Aug. 21st during the Great American Solar Eclipse, the students of Earth to Sky Calculus launched 11 space weather balloons from the path of totality. They aimed to photograph the Moon's shadow from the stratosphere--and they succeeded. As a fundraiser, some of the balloons carried jewelry. Here is a rose quartz crystal pendant entering the Moon's shadow more than 90,000 feet above the Malheur National Forest in eastern Oregon:

During the 2.5 hour flight, the pendants were wrapped in the Moon's shadow for more than two minutes, experiencing a spooky darkness colder than -50 C.

You can have one for $149.95. Each crystal pendant comes with a unique gift card showing the jewelry passing through the Moon's shadow and floating at the top of Earth's atmosphere. The interior of the card tells the story of the flight and confirms that this gift has been to the edge of space and back again.

Far Out Gifts: Earth to Sky Store
All proceeds support hands-on STEM education

Realtime Aurora Photo Gallery

Solar Eclipse Photo Gallery

  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 Sep. 12, 2017, the network reported 53 fireballs.
(49 sporadics, 4 September epsilon Perseids)

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 September 12, 2017 there were 1803 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Recent & Upcoming Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
Velocity (km/s)
Diameter (m)
2017 OP68
20 LD
2017 QK18
14.8 LD
2014 RC
15.1 LD
2017 PR25
17.9 LD
1989 VB
7.9 LD
2017 OD69
13.2 LD
2012 TC4
0.1 LD
2005 TE49
8.5 LD
2013 UM9
17 LD
2006 TU7
18.7 LD
5.8 LD
2003 UV11
15 LD
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.
  Cosmic Rays in the Atmosphere

Readers, thank you for your patience while we continue to develop this new section of We've been working to streamline our data reduction, allowing us to post results from balloon flights much more rapidly, and we have developed a new data product, shown here:

This plot displays radiation measurements not only in the stratosphere, but also at aviation altitudes. Dose rates are expessed as multiples of sea level. For instance, we see that boarding a plane that flies at 25,000 feet exposes passengers to dose rates ~10x higher than sea level. At 40,000 feet, the multiplier is closer to 50x. These measurements are made by our usual cosmic ray payload as it passes through aviation altitudes en route to the stratosphere over California.

What is this all about? Approximately once a week, and the students of Earth to Sky Calculus fly space weather balloons to the stratosphere over California. These balloons are equipped with radiation sensors that detect cosmic rays, a surprisingly "down to Earth" form of space weather. Cosmic rays can seed clouds, trigger lightning, and penetrate commercial airplanes. Furthermore, there are studies ( #1, #2, #3, #4) linking cosmic rays with cardiac arrhythmias and sudden cardiac death in the general population. Our latest measurements show that cosmic rays are intensifying, with an increase of more than 13% since 2015:

Why are cosmic rays intensifying? The main reason is the sun. Solar storm clouds such as coronal mass ejections (CMEs) sweep aside cosmic rays when they pass by Earth. During Solar Maximum, CMEs are abundant and cosmic rays are held at bay. Now, however, the solar cycle is swinging toward Solar Minimum, allowing cosmic rays to return. Another reason could be the weakening of Earth's magnetic field, which helps protect us from deep-space radiation.

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.

The data points in the graph above correspond to the peak of the Reneger-Pfotzer maximum, which lies about 67,000 feet above central California. When cosmic rays crash into Earth's atmosphere, they produce a spray of secondary particles that is most intense at the entrance to the stratosphere. Physicists Eric Reneger and Georg Pfotzer discovered the maximum using balloons in the 1930s and it is what we are measuring today.

  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
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NOAA 27-Day Space Weather Forecasts
  fun to read, but should be taken with a grain of salt! Forecasts looking ahead more than a few days are often wrong.
Aurora 30 min forecast
  from the NOAA Space Environment Center
  the underlying science of space weather welcomes two supporters of science communication: SEO Phoenix AZ and CRAS, the Conservatory of Recording Arts and Sciences.
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