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Solar wind
speed: 584.8 km/sec
density: 2.3 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2347 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: B5
2141 UT Jul12
24-hr: B7
0117 UT Jul12
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2300 UT
Daily Sun: 12 Jul 15
None of these sunspots has the type of unstable magnetic field that poses a threat for strong solar flares. Solar activity is low. Credit: SDO/HMI

Sunspot number: 91
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 12 Jul 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 Jul 2015

The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 129 sfu
explanation | more data
Updated 12 Jul 2015

Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
Credit: NOAA/Ovation
Planetary K-index
Now: Kp= 3 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 3
explanation | more data
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 4.8 nT
Bz: 1.4 nT south
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2347 UT
Coronal Holes: 12 Jul 15

There are no large coronal holes on the Earthside of the sun. Credit: SDO/AIA.
Noctilucent Clouds The northern season for NLCs is underway. NASA's AIM spacecraft spotted the first noctilucent clouds over the Arctic Circle on May 19th.
Switch view: Europe, USA, Asia, Polar
Updated at: 07-12-2015 16:55:02
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2015 Jul 12 2150 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
10 %
10 %
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 Jul 12 2150 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
25 %
20 %
05 %
05 %
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
15 %
15 %
30 %
25 %
30 %
25 %
Sunday, Jul. 12, 2015
What's up in space

Learn to photograph Northern Lights like a pro. Sign up for Peter Rosen's Aurora Photo Courses in Abisko National Park, winner of the TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence Award 2015.

Lapland tours

(ALMOST NO) CHANCE OF FLARES: Solar activity is very low. With no sunspots actively flaring, the sun's X-ray output has flatlined. NOAA forecasters estimate a 10% chance of M-class solar flares and a miniscule 1% chance of X-flares on July 12th. Aurora alerts: text or voice.

THE FARSIDE OF PLUTO: Pluto has two sides: the nearside that New Horizons will see when it buzzes the dwarf planet on July 14th, and the farside that it won't. New Horizons just took the best picture it will ever take of Pluto's farside from a distance of 2.5 million miles:

Alan Stern, New Horizons principal investigator at the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado, describes this image as "the last, best look that anyone will have of Pluto's farside for decades to come."

Of particular interest on the farside are four dark spots connected to a dark belt that circles Pluto's equatorial region. What continues to pique the interest of scientists is their similar size and even spacing. "It's weird that they're spaced so regularly," says New Horizons program scientist Curt Niebur at NASA Headquarters.  Jeff Moore of NASA's Ames Research Center is equally intrigued: "We can't tell whether they're plateaus or plains, or whether they're brightness variations on a completely smooth surface." The spots appear on the side of Pluto that always faces its largest moon, Charon.

No one knows what these spots are, but there is hope for a solution to the mystery: "When we combine images like this of the farside with composition and color data the spacecraft has already acquired but not yet sent to Earth, we expect to be able to read the history of this face of Pluto," says Moore.

When New Horizons makes its closest approach to Pluto in just two days, it will focus on the nearside of the dwarf planet. On the morning of July 14, New Horizons will pass about 7,800 miles (12,500 kilometers) from the face with a large heart-shaped feature that's captured the imagination of people around the world.

Realtime Pluto Photo Gallery

SPACE WEATHER FORECAST FOR PLUTO: Forcasting space weather in the immediate vicinity of Earth is challenging. Forecasting space weather 3 billion miles away at the edge of the known solar system is almost impossible. Nevertheless, researchers at the Goddard Space Flight Center may have done it. Using a supercomputer model named "Enlil", they have tracked the motions of solar storms since January 2015 to predict conditions around Pluto in mid-July. Watch the movie, then read more about their predictions below:

"We set the simulation to start in January of 2015, because the particles passing Pluto in July 2015 took some six months to make the journey from the sun," says Dusan Odstricil of Goddard, who created the Enlil computer code in the 1990s. "During that time there were 120 separate CMEs."

"Our simulation estimates that during the New Horizon approach, Pluto might be immersed in a region with very low solar wind densities, lasting for about one month," says Odstricil. "This will be followed by a large merged region, which could significantly compress Pluto's atmosphere."

This one of the first space weather forecasts ever attempted so far from Earth. Needless to say, it is unlikely to be a perfect reflection of reality. Odstricil says his model could be off by two to three weeks. However, comparing the models with actual measurements from New Horizons will help make far-out space weather forecasts more accurate in the future.

Realtime Space Weather Photo Gallery

GEOMAGNETIC STORM: As predicted, a minor G1-class geomagnetic storm broke out during the late hours of July 10th when a high-speed solar wind stream hit Earth's magnetic field. "Aurora and pillars were visible to the naked eye, becoming bright at times," reports Randy Halverson from South Dakota's Badlands National Park. This is what he saw:

Auroras were also sighted above Vermont, Massachusetts, North Dakota, Wisconsin, Maine, and Michigan, and in eastern parts of Canada.

The storm is subsiding now. NOAA forecasters estimate a 50% chance that it could flare up again on July 12th as the solar wind continues to blow. Aurora alerts: text or voice.

Realtime Aurora Photo Gallery

Realtime NLC Photo Gallery

Realtime Sprite 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 Jul. 12, 2015, the network reported 14 fireballs.
(12 sporadics, 1 theta Perseid, 1 July Pegasid)

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 July 12, 2015 there were potentially hazardous asteroids.
Recent & Upcoming Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
2015 HM10
Jul 7
1.1 LD
81 m
2015 NR2
Jul 9
10.7 LD
28 m
1994 AW1
Jul 15
25.3 LD
1.3 km
2011 UW158
Jul 19
6.4 LD
540 m
2013 BQ18
Jul 20
7.9 LD
38 m
1999 JD6
Jul 25
18.8 LD
1.6 km
2005 NZ6
Aug 6
76.5 LD
1.4 km
2005 JF21
Aug 16
20.1 LD
1.6 km
2004 BO41
Aug 31
57.3 LD
1.2 km
1991 CS
Sep 4
62.1 LD
1.4 km
2014 KS76
Sep 14
8.7 LD
22 m
2004 TR12
Sep 15
58.8 LD
1.0 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...
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