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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Solar wind
speed: 421.8 km/sec
density: 4.2 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2347 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: B5
2137 UT Jul20
24-hr: B7
0027 UT Jul20
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2300 UT
Daily Sun: 20 Jul 12
None of the spots on the Earth-facing side of the sun pose a threat for strong flares. Credit: SDO/HMI
Sunspot number: 39
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 20 Jul 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 20 Jul 2012

The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 110 sfu
explanation | more data
Updated 20 Jul 2012

Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
Planetary K-index
Now: Kp= 2 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 3
explanation | more data
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 4.4 nT
Bz: 3.2 nT south
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2347 UT
Coronal Holes: 20 Jul 12
A solar wind stream flowing from this coronal hole should reach Earth on July 23-24. Credit: SDO/AIA.
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2012 Jul 20 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: 2012 Jul 20 2200 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
05 %
30 %
01 %
05 %
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
15 %
15 %
10 %
30 %
05 %
35 %
Friday, Jul. 20, 2012
What's up in space

They came from outer space--and you can have one! Genuine meteorites are now on sale in the Space Weather Store.

Own your own meteorite

A TASTE OF SOLAR MAX: Forecasters say solar maximum is still a year away. Earlier this month sky watchers got a taste of things to come when a powerful flare sparked Northern Lights over the United States as far south as Arkansas, Colorado and California. [full story] [video]

RADIATION STORM: A low-level radiation storm is underway as solar protons swarm around our planet. Ranked S1 on NOAA space weather scales, the storm poses no serious threat to astronauts or satellites. Nevertheless it is a nuisance. Minor radiation storms can cause occasional reboots of computers onboard spacecraft and add "snow" to spacecraft imaging systems. This SOHO coronagraph image of the sun, taken during the early hours of July 20th, is a good example:

Each of the speckles in the image (a representative handful are circled) are caused by protons hitting the spacecraft's CCD camera. During minor storms it is possible to see through this kind of snow. During severe storms, such images become practically opaque.

The protons were accelerated toward Earth by an M7-class solar flare on July 19th. Although the blast site (sunspot AR1520) was on the farside of the sun, the protons were able to reach Earth anyway, guided toward our planet by backward-spiralling lines of magnetic force. Solar flare alerts: text, voice.

Realtime Space Weather Photo Gallery

SOUTHERN LIGHTS: The geomagnetic storm of July 14-16 was remarkable for the beauty of its auroras in the southern hemisphere. The view was especially good from above the southern hemisphere:

Astronaut Joe Acaba photographed these Southern Lights from the International Space Station on Saturday, July 14th. He was 400 km above Earth's surface, immersed in the fringes of the auroras themselves.

"It was absolutely incredible," says Acaba. "I was working out and in between sets I noticed that we were heading south during a night pass. So I decided my workout could be postponed for a few minutes and I turned out all of the lights in Node 3. Within a couple of minutes, I could not believe what I was seeing. I enjoyed the show for a few minutes [then alerted my crewmates to look]. Even Gennady, with all of his time on orbit, was amazed. Of course I took some obligatory pictures, but then I just sat in the dark, in the peace and quiet of this incredible man made, orbiting laboratory and just looked out the window in awe. What a truly magnificent planet we live on and solar system we live in."

Realtime Aurora 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 July 20, 2012 there were potentially hazardous asteroids.
Recent & Upcoming Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
2003 KU2
Jul 15
40.2 LD
1.3 km
2004 EW9
Jul 16
46.8 LD
2.1 km
2002 AM31
Jul 22
13.7 LD
1.0 km
2012 OQ
Jul 24
7.7 LD
195 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
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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