Solar wind
speed: 443.9 km/sec
density: 4.5 protons/cm3
more data: ACE, DSCOVR
Updated: Today at 1005 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: B4
1002 UT Oct22
24-hr: B8
1515 UT Oct21
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 1010 UT
Daily Sun: 22 Oct 21
Expand: labels | no labels
A new and potentially active sunspot group is emerging at the circled location. Credit: SDO/HMI

Sunspot number: 11
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 22 Oct 2021

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 0 days
2021 total: 60 days (20%)
2020 total: 208 days (57%)
2019 total: 281 days (77%)
2018 total: 221 days (61%)
2017 total: 104 days (28%)
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%)
2008 total: 268 days (73%)
2007 total: 152 days (42%)
2006 total: 70 days (19%)

Updated 22 Oct 2021

Thermosphere Climate Index
today: 6.51
x1010 W Cold
Max: 49.4
x1010 W Hot (10/1957)
Min: 2.05
x1010 W Cold (02/2009)
explanation | more data: gfx, txt
Updated 21 Oct 2021

The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 82 sfu
explanation | more data
Updated 22 Oct 2021

Cosmic Rays Solar Cycle 25 is beginning, and this is reflected in the number of cosmic rays entering Earth's atmosphere. Neutron counts from the University of Oulu's Sodankyla Geophysical Observatory show that cosmic rays reaching Earth are slowly declining--a result of the yin-yang relationship between the solar cycle and cosmic rays.

Oulu Neutron Counts

Percentages of the Space Age average:
today: +9.1% High
48-hr change: +0.5%
Max: +11.7% Very High
Min: -32.1% Very Low (06/1991)
explanation | more data
Updated 22 Oct 2021 @ 0700 UT

Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
Credit: NOAA/Ovation
Planetary K-index
Now: Kp= 1 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 2
explanation | more data
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 5.0 nT
Bz: 2.5 nT north
more data: ACE, DSCOVR
Updated: Today at 1005 UT
Coronal Holes: 22 Oct 21

Earth is inside a stream of solar wind flowing from the indicated coronal hole.
Credit: SDO/AIA

Noctilucent Clouds The northern hemisphere season for noctilucent clouds appears to be over. NASA's AIM spacecraft detected no evidence of NLCs around the north pole on Aug. 29th.
Switch view: Europe, USA, Asia, Polar
Updated at:
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2021 Oct 21 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: 2021 Oct 21 2200 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
20 %
15 %
05 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
15 %
15 %
25 %
20 %
25 %
20 %
Friday, Oct. 22, 2021
What's up in space

Lights Over Lapland has a full catalogue of exciting adventures in Abisko National Park, Sweden! Check out our daytime and evening activities and book your adventure!


ACTIVITY ON THE SUN'S EASTERN LIMB: A new sunspot group is emerging over the sun's southeastern limb, right here. It is crackling with activity. An intensifying series of minor B-class solar flares is probably stronger than it looks because each explosion has been partially eclipsed by the edge of the sun. Solar flare alerts: SMS Text.

20 YEARS AGO, A SEVERE GEOMAGNETIC STORM: Paolo Bardelli will never forget Oct. 21, 2001. "The sky over my hometown in Italy suddenly filled with intense red auroras," he recalls. "This happened exactly 20 years ago today."

Above: Red auroras over Tradate, Italy (latitude +45N), on Oct. 21, 2001. Photo credit: Cesare Guaita

A trip down memory lane: In 2001, Solar Cycle 23 was peaking and solar activity was very high. Strong flares were a daily occurance. On Oct. 19th, giant sunspot AR9661 erupted twice in quick succession, producing almost identical X1.6-class solar flares. The double blast hurled two bright CMEs toward Earth: CME #1, CME #2.

This is what the sun looked like that day:

The first CME took only two days to reach Earth. It was fast and potent. The storm cloud's arrival on Oct. 21, 2001, ignited a severe geomagnetic storm (Kp=8). Solar wind speeds in the CME's wake topped 700 km/s, keeping the storm going for more than 15 hours.

In Troutman, North Carolina, Ronnie Sherril witnessed the CME's impact. "Auroras were visible in twilight even before the evening sky faded to black," says Sherril, who took this picture at 7:30 pm local time:

"By 10:30 pm the sky had exploded into bright red with yellowish beams," says Sherril. "What an awesome display!"

Less than a day later the second CME arrived, and it happened all over again. Another 15 hours of strong-to-severe storming ensued. Using data from a global network of magnetometers, NOAA made this record of planetary K-indices during the two-day event:

Red auroras were sighted in Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Australia, Japan, and in the United States as far south as latitude 35N. Remarkably, there were no widespread power outages or satellite disruptions. The Internet functioned normally throughout. It was mainly an aurora show.

Some observers are ready for more. "We are hoping for something similar for Solar Cycle 25, as the sun has recently had a good increase in its activity," says Bardelli. Indeed, young Solar Cycle 25 is intensifying, but Solar Max isn't expected for another 3 to 4 years. Until then, browse the Oct. 2001 photo gallery:

October 2001 Aurora Photo Gallery
Free: Newsletter

VOYAGER GOLDEN RECORD ORNAMENT: This is a must-have Christmas ornament for space fans: The Voyager Golden Record. On Oct. 15th, the students of Earth to Sky Calculus launched it to the stratosphere onboard an cosmic ray research balloon:

You can have it for $129.95. The 4-inch aluminum disk is imprinted with instructions intended for extraterrestrials, telling them how to play the phonographs now sailing through interstellar space onboard NASA's Voyager probes. Having touched the edge of space, it's the closest thing on Earth to an actual Golden Record.

The students are selling these unique ornaments to support their cosmic ray ballooning program. Each one comes with a greeting card showing the ornament in flight and extra materials decoding the markings on the disk.

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

Realtime Aurora Photo Gallery
Free: Newsletter

Realtime Space Weather Photo Gallery
Free: Newsletter

  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 21, 2021, the network reported 23 fireballs.
(13 sporadics, 8 Orionids, 2 southern Taurids)

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 22, 2021 there were 2226 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Recent & Upcoming Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
Velocity (km/s)
Diameter (m)
2021 UL
0.1 LD
2021 TJ15
1 LD
2021 TF13
7.5 LD
2021 TJ12
5.5 LD
2021 TH13
1.7 LD
2021 TG14
0.7 LD
2021 TO14
6.4 LD
2021 TQ15
8.2 LD
2020 TH6
7.3 LD
2021 TX2
9 LD
2021 TX14
1.3 LD
2021 TL20
12.4 LD
1996 VB3
8.8 LD
2021 TV3
13.2 LD
2021 TE4
8.3 LD
2021 SG2
15.9 LD
2021 RE10
15.5 LD
2021 TE1
9.5 LD
2017 SJ20
18.7 LD
2021 TO15
7.3 LD
2019 UW6
8 LD
2009 WY7
19.2 LD
2021 TJ14
19 LD
2017 TS3
13.9 LD
2005 VL1
17 LD
2020 KA
14.9 LD
2021 SP3
15.6 LD
2019 XS
1.5 LD
2017 WG14
18.6 LD
2007 VD138
16 LD
2004 UE
11.1 LD
2016 VR
8 LD
2010 VK139
6.4 LD
2019 VL5
8.6 LD
2021 TR15
11.8 LD
2016 JG12
14.4 LD
2021 KH2
19.3 LD
15.1 LD
2014 WF201
13.2 LD
2009 WB105
15.1 LD
2019 BB5
18.8 LD
1994 WR12
16.1 LD
10.3 LD
2019 XQ1
14.1 LD
2004 YC
18.4 LD
14.2 LD
2021 LX3
19.7 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

SPACE WEATHER BALLOON DATA: Almost 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 sensors that detect secondary cosmic rays, a form of radiation from space that can penetrate all the way down to Earth's surface. Our monitoring program has been underway without interruption for 6 years, resulting in a unique dataset of in situ atmospheric measurements.

Latest results: Our most recent flight on June 25, 2021, confirms a trend of decreasing cosmic radiation:

Cosmic ray dose rates peaked in late 2019, and have been slowly declining ever since. This makes perfect sense. Solar Minimum was in late 2019. During Solar Minimum the sun's magnetic field weakens, allowing more cosmic rays into the solar system. We expect dose rate to be highest at that time.

Now that Solar Minimum has passed, the sun is waking up again. Solar magnetic fields are strengthening, providing a stiffer barrier to cosmic rays trying to enter the solar system. The decline of cosmic radiation above California is a sign that new Solar Cycle 25 is gaining strength.

.Who cares? Cosmic rays are a surprisingly "down to Earth" form of space weather. They can seed clouds, trigger lightning, and penetrate commercial airplanes. According to a study from the Harvard T.H. Chan school of public health, crews of aircraft have higher rates of cancer than the general population. The researchers listed cosmic rays, irregular sleep habits, and chemical contaminants as leading risk factors. Somewhat more controversial studies (#1, #2, #3, #4) llink cosmic rays with cardiac arrhythmias and sudden cardiac death.

En route to the stratosphere, our sensors also pass through aviation altitudes:

In this plot, 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. The higher you fly, the more radiation you will absorb.

Technical notes:

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.

Data points in the first graph ("Stratospheric Radiation") correspond to the peak of the Regener-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 Regener 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.
  information about sunspots based on the latest NOAA/USAF Active Region Summary
Daily Sunspot Summaries
  from the NOAA Space Environment Center
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

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To get an up close view of the heavenly bodies surrounding Earth, think about selling your junk car for cash and buying a high quality telescope. welcomes these supporters of science communication: RV Sales and Arizona SEO and Arizona Business Directory and C8 Corvette | Phoenix Personal Injury Lawyer | Phoenix SEO
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