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Solar wind
speed: 418.2 km/sec
density: 5.3 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2347 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: C7
1750 UT Sep24
24-hr: C7
1750 UT Sep24
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2300 UT
Daily Sun: 24 Sept 14
Sunspot AR2172 poses a growing threat for strong flares. Credit: SDO/HMI
Sunspot number: 90
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 24 Sep 2014

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 0 days
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%)

Update 24
Sep 2014

The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 138 sfu
explanation | more data
Updated 24 Sep 2014

Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
Planetary K-index
Now: Kp= 3 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 4
explanation | more data
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 6.1 nT
Bz: 3.0 nT north
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2347 UT
Coronal Holes: 24 Sep 14
A stream of solar wind flowing from the indicated coronal hole could reach Earth on Sept. 26-27. Credit: SDO/AIA. posts daily satellite images of noctilucent clouds (NLCs), which hover over Earth's poles at the edge of space. The data come from NASA's AIM spacecraft. The north polar "daisy" pictured below is a composite of near-realtime images from AIM assembled by researchers at the University of Colorado's Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (LASP).
Noctilucent Clouds
Switch view: Europe, USA, Asia, Polar
Updated at: 09-02-2014 12:55:12
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2014 Sep 24 2200 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
35 %
35 %
05 %
05 %
Geomagnetic Storms:
Probabilities for significant disturbances in Earth's magnetic field are given for three activity levels: active, minor storm, severe storm
Updated at: 2014 Sep 24 2200 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
35 %
35 %
15 %
15 %
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
10 %
10 %
30 %
30 %
50 %
50 %
Wednesday, Sep. 24, 2014
What's up in space

When is the best time to see auroras? Where is the best place to go? And how do you photograph them? These questions and more are answered in a new book, Northern Lights - a Guide, by Pal Brekke & Fredrik Broms.

Northern Lights - a Guide

CONGRATULATIONS TO INDIA: Mars is a notoriously risky planet to visit. Of 51 spacecraft sent to the Red Planet by the USA, Europe and Russia, only 21 have successfully entered orbit and/or landed. India joined that exclusive club today--and the newly spacefaring nation did it on the first try. At 7:30 AM India time on Sept. 24th, the Mars Orbiter Mission--a.k.a. "MOM"--entered orbit around Mars. Instruments onboard MOM will study the make-up of the Martian atmosphere and measure the abundance of methane, a possible marker of biological activity. Congratulations to India!

GEOMAGNETIC UNREST: Today, the interplanetary magnetic field (IMF) near Earth is tilting south, not much, but enough to open a crack in Earth's magnetosphere. Solar wind is pouring through the opening to fuel polar auroras. Among many beautiful examples in the aurora gallery, this photo gets front-page treatment because it captures a rare "fireball reflection" in the waves beneath beneath the lights:

"Northern Lights were all over the sky... then WOW! A meteor streaked through the frame," says photographer Joseph Bradley of Carcross, Yukon. "it was so bright it even cast a reflection in the water. I will never forget how beautiful it was. I thought it was going to hit the ground and at the last moment it broke up. It was a great event!"

So far, the solar wind disturbance is causing merely "geomagnetic unrest." NOAA forecasters estimate a 40% chance that a full-fledged geomagnetic storm could develop in the next 24 hours. Polar sky watchers should remain alert for auroras. Aurora alerts: text, voice

Realtime Aurora Photo Gallery

EQUINOX SOLAR FLARE: Northern autumn began with a bang, albeit only a medium-sized one. Big sunspot AR2172 erupted on Sept. 23rd at 2316 UT, producing an impulsive M2-class solar flare, shown here in a movie recorded by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory:

Update: Just-arriving data from SOHO coronagraphs show that the explosion did indeed produce a faint CME. Analysts are woring now to determine if the cloud has an Earth-directed component. Stay tuned.

Meanwhile, more flares are in the offing. AR2172 continues to grow and it has a 'beta-gamma' magnetic field that harbors energy for strong explosions. NOAA forcasters estimate a 30% chance of M-class flares and a 5% chance of X-flares on Sept. 24th. Solar flare alerts: text, voice

Realtime Space Weather Photo Gallery

MARS vs. ANTI-MARS: Shining bright red in the heart of the constellation Scorpius, 1st-magnitude star Antares is often mistaken for Mars. In Greek, "Antares" means "rival of Mars" or "anti-Mars," so-named because it is about the same brightness and color as the Red Planet. As September comes to a close, the rivals are converging. Jeff Dai sends this photo of Mars and Antares setting side-by-side behind Mount Balang in Sichuan, China:

"I was looking southwest in the evening sky on Sept. 20th when a conspicuous pair of ruddy objects grabbed my attention," says Dai. "Red planet Mars is moving in for a close encounter with its ancient rival, the red supergiant star Antares."

On Sept. 28th and 29th, the nights of closest approach, Mars and Antares will be only a few degrees apart, a conjunction tight enough to fit behind your outstretched palm. Sept. 29th is the best night to look because the Moon will join the display, lining up to form a near-vertical column of heavenly bodies just above the southwestern horizon. Sept. 27th is a good night, too, but for a different reason: A slender crescent Moon will pass very close to Saturn not far from Antares and Mars. Sky maps: Sept. 25, 26, 27, 28, 29.

Can't remember all these dates? Let do the remembering for you. Sign up for backyard astronomy alerts.

Realtime Space Weather Photo Gallery

Realtime Comet 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. 24, 2014, the network reported 29 fireballs.
(29 sporadics)

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 24, 2014 there were potentially hazardous asteroids.
Recent & Upcoming Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
2014 SG1
Sep 20
0.2 LD
7 m
2014 SD145
Sep 21
3.7 LD
18 m
2014 SR223
Sep 21
5.3 LD
21 m
2014 SE145
Sep 22
3.9 LD
15 m
2014 SN142
Sep 23
1.1 LD
10 m
2014 SC145
Sep 25
7.6 LD
28 m
2009 FG19
Sep 26
34.6 LD
1.1 km
2014 SS143
Sep 29
3.6 LD
16 m
2014 SZ144
Sep 29
3.9 LD
36 m
2014 NE52
Sep 30
61.2 LD
1.1 km
2014 SB145
Oct 6
4.4 LD
27 m
2001 EA16
Oct 7
35.5 LD
1.9 km
2011 TB4
Oct 9
5.8 LD
34 m
2010 FV9
Oct 11
8.7 LD
36 m
2003 UC20
Oct 31
52.4 LD
1.0 km
2004 JN13
Nov 18
52.4 LD
4.1 km
1998 SS49
Nov 18
73.9 LD
3.2 km
2005 UH3
Nov 22
44.4 LD
1.3 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
Space Weather Alerts
  more links...
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