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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Solar wind
speed: 380.9 km/sec
density: 0.4 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2347 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: C1
2221 UT Aug08
24-hr: C4
1132 UT Aug08
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2300 UT
Daily Sun: 08 Aug 12
Sunspot 1542 is cracklng with C-class flares. Credit: SDO/HMI
Sunspot number: 96
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 08 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 08 Aug 2012

The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 129 sfu
explanation | more data
Updated 08 Aug 2012

Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
Planetary K-index
Now: Kp= 1 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 4
explanation | more data
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 7.0 nT
Bz: 4.3 nT south
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2347 UT
Coronal Holes: 08 Aug 12
There are no large coronal holes on the Earthside of the sun. Credit: SDO/AIA.
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2012 Aug 08 2200 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
15 %
15 %
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 08 2200 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
20 %
05 %
05 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
15 %
15 %
30 %
15 %
25 %
05 %
Wednesday, Aug. 8, 2012
What's up in space

Listen to radar echoes from satellites and meteors, live on listener-supported Space Weather Radio.

Spaceweather Radio is on the air

'METEOR SMOKE' LINKED TO NOCTILUCENT CLOUDS: A key ingredient of Earth's strangest clouds does not come from Earth. New data from NASA's AIM spacecraft shows that "meteor smoke" is essential to the formation of noctilucent clouds. [full story] [video]

FIRST AURORAS OF THE SEASON: After a long summer of midnight suns and starless nights, the Arctic Circle is glowing with its first auroras of the new season. Todd Salat photographed the kick-off in Fairbanks, Alaska, on August 6th:

"From 1 am to 1:30 am local time I took these photos of the northern lights dancing above the Fairbanks city lights," says Salat. "Although the nights still do not get completely dark in the far northern latitudes, the deep blue twilight skies proved dark enough to make the auroras stand out. And at a balmy 55° F, it was quite a treat to be watching the lights in t-shirt weather."

The second auroras of the season could appear tonight. NOAA forecasters estimate a 30% chance of polar geomagnetic storms in response to the expected glancng blow from an incoming CME. Aurora alerts: text, phone.

Realtime Aurora Photo Gallery

THE OPPOSITION EFFECT ON MARS: Among the many striking images of Curiosity's August 5th descent to Mars, this one is particularly nerd-tastic because it illustrates an obscure bit of physics often seen on dusty alien worlds. Look inside the circle, then scroll down for an explanation of the bright spot:

"This picture was taken by Mars Descent Imager (MARDI) onboard Curiosity during its final stage of descent towards the surface of the Red Planet," says SWx-reader Radek Grochowski who noticed the optical phenomenon. "Above the falling heat shield you can see a distinct bright spot - an opposition effect."

The opposition effect occurs when sunlight is backscattered from a loosely-packed surface of dust or sand. Particles hide their own shadows, resulting in a bright spot on the ground as seen from above. This phenomenon has been observed on Earth, the Moon, Mars, and even in the rings of Saturn.

Realtime Space Weather Photo Gallery

Realtime Meteor 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 8, 2012 there were potentially hazardous asteroids.
Recent & Upcoming Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
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
2001 CV26
Oct 30
68 LD
2.4 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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