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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Solar wind
speed: 461.9 km/sec
density: 0.3 protons/cm3
more data: ACE, DSCOVR
Updated: Today at 2349 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A7
1856 UT Jul12
24-hr: A8
1049 UT Jul12
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2300 UT
Daily Sun: 12 Jul 19
The sun is blank--no sunspots. Credit: SDO/HMI

Sunspot number: 0
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 12 Jul 2019

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 4 days
2019 total: 122 days (63%)
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 12 Jul 2019

Thermosphere Climate Index
today: 3.16
x1010 W Cold
Max: 49.4
x1010 W Hot (10/1957)
Min: 2.05
x1010 W Cold (02/2009)
explanation | more data
Updated 12 Jul 2019

The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 67 sfu
explanation | more data
Updated 12 Jul 2019

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: 6.6 nT
Bz: 1.9 nT north
more data: ACE, DSCOVR
Updated: Today at 2349 UT
Coronal Holes: 12 Jul 19

A stream of solar wind flowing from the indicated coronal hole should reach Earth on July 15th.
Credit: SDO/AIA

Noctilucent Clouds The northern season for noctilicent clouds is underway. Monitor the daily images from NASA's AIM spacecraft to see how the clouds spread around the Arctic Circle as northern summer unfolds.
Switch view: Europe, USA, Asia, Polar
Updated at: 07-12-2019 13:55:03
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2019 Jul 12 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: 2019 Jul 12 2200 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
10 %
10 %
05 %
05 %
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
15 %
15 %
20 %
20 %
15 %
15 %
Friday, Jul. 12, 2019
What's up in space

Special Offer: SAVE 600nok per person. Book a combination aurora borealis chase and scenic day tour during the months of September, October or November 2019 for the special price of 1800 kr. Check Marianne's webpage for details!


SPACEWEATHER PHOTO GALLERY OUTAGE: Today, our realtime photo gallery server experienced a catastrophic hardware failure. The gallery contains years of unique photos, preserving a record of noctilucent clouds, auroras, and many other phenomena. The good news: Most if not all of those images have been preserved. The bad news: Fixing the problem will take some days as we carefully migrate the gallery to a more capable platform, modernizing code in the process. In the meantime, if you have an image to share with readers of, please email it directly to Dr. Tony Phillips. Don't forget to include the time and location of the image + commentary about what you saw.

WHAT'S UP IN THE MESOSPHERE? Last month, people around the world who had never heard of noctilucent clouds (NLCs) suddenly found themselves seeing NLCs on a regular basis. The electric-blue clouds rippled to record low latitudes, with sightings as far south as New Mexico and southern California. As July unfolds, however, the clouds have subsided. 

What's happening up there? Lynn Harvey of the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics at the University of Colorado has taken a look at NASA satellite data, and here are her findings:

"At mid-latitudes, the mesosphere remains quite wet, but temperatures have been rising this month," says Harvey. "The rising temperatures could be suppressing the formation of NLCs."

Noctilucent clouds form when summertime wisps of water vapor rise to the edge of space, frosting specks of meteor smoke. When sunlight hits those tiny ice crystals, they glow electric-blue. Moisture boosts NLCs, but warmth destroys them. The recent uptick in temperature may be responsible for their retreat.

Although fewer people are seeing NLCs as July unfolds, the season is not over. NASA's AIM satellite continues to see a bright ring of electric-blue circling Earth's north pole, and only two days ago Bertrand Kulik witnessed a display of NLCs over Paris, France:

"Noctilucent clouds were visible over the Eiffel tower around 4 o'clock in the morning on July 10th," says Kulik. "It was not a strong display, but still very nice."

The northern summer season for noctilucent clouds typically continues through mid-August. Observing tips: Look west 30 to 60 minutes after sunset (or before sunrise) when the sun is just below the horizon. If you see luminous blue-white tendrils spreading across the sky, you may have spotted a noctilucent cloud.

Realtime Noctilucent Cloud Photo Gallery
The photo gallery is temporarily unavailable

MILLENNIUM FALCON IN THE STRATOSPHERE: It's the ship that made the Kessel Run in less than twelve parsecs! On July 6, 2019, the students of Earth to Sky Calculus launched the Millennium Falcon to the stratosphere. Riding onboard a high-altitude cosmic ray balloon, the laser-etched crystal spaceship traveled 103,018 feet above Earth's surface:

You can have it for $119.95. The students are selling the Falcon to fund the Earth to Sky ballooning program. Each one comes with a greeting card showing the Falcon in flight and telling the story of its journey to the edge of space. Also included: an LED-illuminated stand. This creates a colorful visual effect and allows the Falcon to be used as a far-out night light.

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

AURORAS SEEN FROM THE STRATOSPHERE: A solar wind stream hit Earth on July 9th and 10th. The view from the stratosphere was sublime. While the gaseous material from the sun was buffeting our planet's magnetic field, Ian Griffin photographed an outburst of auroras from NASA's Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA), a specially modified Boeing 747 aircraft that can skim the bottom of the stratosphere for crystal-clear views of the heavens:

"It was the best aurora adventure ever," says Griffin. "I was lucky to be a guest on board SOFIA, which is presently flying out of Christchurch, New Zealand, during its annual trip to view the southern sky during austral winter. Last night, for almost the whole flight, the sky to the south was bathed by an amazing auroral display! Some of the forms were truly astonishing, and at times the aurora in the window was so bright it mesmerized all on board."

The solar wind stream that caused the display came from a northern hole in the sun's atmosphere. Normally, such a stream might not be enough to spark spectacular auroras. This time, however, Earth's magnetosphere was already 'charged up' by an unexpected CME impact on July 8th. The arrival of the solar wind stream only one day later tipped the magnetosphere into a state of glowing G1-class storminess. Aurora alerts: SMS Text.

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 Jul. 12, 2019, the network reported 51 fireballs.
(51 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 July 12, 2019 there were 1983 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Recent & Upcoming Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
Velocity (km/s)
Diameter (m)
2016 OF
12.5 LD
2019 NP1
6.6 LD
2019 ME3
12.7 LD
2019 MT2
4.4 LD
2019 MB4
0.8 LD
2019 NX5
2.6 LD
2016 NO56
8 LD
2019 NP5
5.6 LD
2019 NM4
9 LD
2019 NM5
2.1 LD
2019 NN3
0.8 LD
2019 NW5
18.3 LD
2019 KD3
15.5 LD
2016 NJ33
15 LD
2019 MW1
7.8 LD
2019 NQ5
11.5 LD
2019 NR3
16.8 LD
2019 NF1
19.3 LD
2019 NJ2
13.4 LD
2015 HM10
12.2 LD
2010 PK9
8.2 LD
2019 NT1
19 LD
2019 NN4
6.6 LD
2006 QQ23
19.4 LD
17 LD
2018 PN22
17.1 LD
2016 PD1
11.4 LD
2002 JR100
19.4 LD
2018 DE1
12.7 LD
2019 GT3
19.5 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

SOMETHING NEW! We have developed a new predictive model of aviation radiation. It's called E-RAD--short for Empirical RADiation model. We are constantly flying radiation sensors onboard airplanes over the US and and around the world, so far collecting more than 22,000 gps-tagged radiation measurements. Using this unique dataset, we can predict the dosage on any flight over the USA with an error no worse than 15%.

E-RAD lets us do something new: Every day we monitor approximately 1400 flights criss-crossing the 10 busiest routes in the continental USA. Typically, this includes more than 80,000 passengers per day. E-RAD calculates the radiation exposure for every single flight.

The Hot Flights Table is a daily summary of these calculations. It shows the 5 charter flights with the highest dose rates; the 5 commercial flights with the highest dose rates; 5 commercial flights with near-average dose rates; and the 5 commercial flights with the lowest dose rates. Passengers typically experience dose rates that are 20 to 70 times higher than natural radiation at sea level.

To measure radiation on airplanes, we use the same sensors we fly to the stratosphere onboard Earth to Sky Calculus cosmic ray balloons: neutron bubble chambers and X-ray/gamma-ray Geiger tubes sensitive to energies between 10 keV and 20 MeV. These energies span the range of medical X-ray machines and airport security scanners.

Column definitions: (1) The flight number; (2) The maximum dose rate during the flight, expressed in units of natural radiation at sea level; (3) The maximum altitude of the plane in feet above sea level; (4) Departure city; (5) Arrival city; (6) Duration of the flight.

SPACE WEATHER BALLOON DATA: Approximately 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 radiation sensors that detect cosmic rays, a surprisingly "down to Earth" form of space weather. Cosmic rays can seed clouds, trigger lightning, and penetrate commercial airplanes. Furthermore, there are studies ( #1, #2, #3, #4) linking cosmic rays with cardiac arrhythmias and sudden cardiac death in the general population. Our latest measurements show that cosmic rays are intensifying, with an increase of more than 18% since 2015:

The data points in the graph above correspond to the peak of the Reneger-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 Reneger and Georg Pfotzer discovered the maximum using balloons in the 1930s and it is what we are measuring today.

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 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.

Why are cosmic rays intensifying? The main reason is the sun. Solar storm clouds such as coronal mass ejections (CMEs) sweep aside cosmic rays when they pass by Earth. During Solar Maximum, CMEs are abundant and cosmic rays are held at bay. Now, however, the solar cycle is swinging toward Solar Minimum, allowing cosmic rays to return. Another reason could be the weakening of Earth's magnetic field, which helps protect us from deep-space radiation.

  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
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 welcomes these supporters of science communication: RV Sales and CRAS, the Conservatory of Recording Arts and Sciences and Windshield Replacement Phoenix and Breast Augmentation Phoenix and Dentist Chandler, AZ.
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