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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Solar wind
speed: 478.2 km/sec
density: 4.1 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2345 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: B9
1654 UT Aug02
24-hr: C1
1314 UT Aug02
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2300 UT
Daily Sun: 01 Aug 12
Sunspot AR1535 has a 'beta-gamma' magnetic field that harbors energy for M-class solar flares. Credit: SDO/HMI
Sunspot number: 118
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 01 Aug 2012

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 0 days
2012 total: 0 days (0%)
2011 total: 2 days (<1%)
2010 total: 51 days (14%)
2009 total: 260 days (71%)
Since 2004: 821 days
Typical Solar Min: 486 days

Updated 01 Aug 2012

The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 136 sfu
explanation | more data
Updated 01 Aug 2012

Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
Planetary K-index
Now: Kp= 4 unsettled
24-hr max: Kp= 5
explanation | more data
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 3.6 nT
Bz: 1.6 nT south
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2347 UT
Coronal Holes: 01 Aug 12
There are no large coronal holes on the Earthside of the sun. Credit: SDO/AIA.
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2012 Aug 02 2200 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
25 %
25 %
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: 2012 Aug 02 2200 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
15 %
05 %
05 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
15 %
15 %
20 %
15 %
20 %
05 %
Thursday, Aug. 2, 2012
What's up in space

Metallic photos of the sun by renowned photographer Greg Piepol bring together the best of art and science. Buy one or a whole set. They make a stellar gift.

Metallic pictures of the Sun

MINOR GEOMAGNETIC STORM: A minor geomagnetic storm is underway. The cause is a knot of south-pointing magnetism drifting past Earth. The IMF is opening a crack in Earth's magnetosphere, allowing solar wind to enter and fuel the storm. Aurora alerts: text, voice.

CURIOSITY & SOLAR FLARES: Mars rover Curiosity has beeen hit by multiple solar flares en route to the Red Planet, giving NASA planners an idea of what faces human astronauts in the Earth-Mars expanse. [full story]

RIPPING PERSEID: As Earth enters a broad stream of debris from Comet Swift-Tuttle, more and more Perseid meteors are appearing in the night sky. "Last night, I captured a Perseid fireball ripping through the ionosphere over New Mexico," reports amateur astronomer Thomas Ashcraft. "It was traveling pretty fast - 133,000 miles per hour!" Click to see and hear the meteoroid disintegrate:

The movie's sound track comes from Ashcraft's dual-frequency meteor radar. It works like this: Radio signals from distant VHF transmitters bounce off the meteor's ion trail. Ashcraft's antennas can pick up those reflections, which sound like ghostly echoes in the loudspeaker of his VHF receiver.

At the moment, Perseid meteor rates are low--no more than about 10 per hour. In the days ahead, however, Earth will plunge deeper into the comet's debris stream, and meteor activity will increase accordingly. Forecasters expect the shower to peak on August 12-13 with as many as 100+ meteors per hour visible from dark-sky sites. Stay tuned for Perseids.

Realtime Meteor Photo Gallery

CRACKLING SUNSPOT: Newly-numberd sunspot AR1538 is small but active. In an 18-hour period on July 30-31, it popped off more than 15 minor flares. Watch the sunspot crackle in this movie from NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory:

The nearly-constant flaring is a sign of tension in the sunspot's magnetic field. It is not, however, a sure-fire sign that a major eruption is in the offing. On the contrary, a large number of minor flares might provide a degree of "magnetic relief" that makes a major eruption less likely.

The most likely source of a major flare today is sunspot AR1535, located more than 400,000 km north of crackling sunspot AR1538. AR1535 is relatively quiet but has a beta-gamma magnetic field that harbors energy for strong M-class eruptions.Solar flare alerts: text, voice.

Realtime Space Weather Photo Gallery

Realtime Noctilucent Cloud Photo Gallery
[previous years: 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011]

  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 August 2, 2012 there were 1324 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Recent & Upcoming Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
2002 AM31
Jul 22
13.7 LD
1.0 km
2012 OQ
Jul 24
7.7 LD
190 m
2012 OU1
Jul 25
8.5 LD
54 m
37655 Illapa
Aug 12
37 LD
1.2 km
2000 ET70
Aug 21
58.5 LD
1.1 km
1998 TU3
Aug 25
49.2 LD
4.9 km
2009 AV
Aug 26
62.8 LD
1.1 km
1998 UO1
Oct 4
60.1 LD
2.1 km
2005 GQ21
Oct 12
77 LD
1.0 km
1998 ST49
Oct 18
28.7 LD
1.3 km
1991 VE
Oct 26
34 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
Trade Show Displays
  more links...
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