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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Solar wind
speed: 451.5 km/sec
density: 9.4 protons/cm3
more data: ACE, DSCOVR
Updated: Today at 2352 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: C1
1756 UT Aug23
24-hr: C2
1343 UT Aug23
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2300 UT
Daily Sun: 23 Aug 17
Sunspot AR2671 has a 'beta-gamma' magnetic field that harbors energy for M-class solar flares. Credit: SDO/HMI

Sunspot number: 48
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 23 Aug 2017

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 0 days
2017 total: 56 days (24%)
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%)

Updated 23 Aug 2017

The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 90 sfu
explanation | more data
Updated 23 Aug 2017

Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
Credit: NOAA/Ovation
Planetary K-index
Now: Kp= 5 storm
24-hr max: Kp= 5
explanation | more data
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 3.4 nT
Bz: -0.5 nT south
more data: ACE, DSCOVR
Updated: Today at 2352 UT
Coronal Holes: 23 Aug 17

There are no large coronal holes on the Earthside of the sun. Credit: NASA/SDO.
Noctilucent Clouds They're back! Images of noctilucent clouds from NASA's AIM spacecraft are available again. The spacecraft's orbit had recently changed, requiring a new way to point AIM's science instruments. This problem has now been solved, and "daily daisies" have returned to
Switch view: Europe, USA, Asia, Polar
Updated at: 08-23-2017 16:55:04
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2017 Aug 23 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: 2017 Aug 23 2200 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
35 %
15 %
15 %
05 %
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
15 %
15 %
25 %
20 %
35 %
15 %
Wednesday, Aug. 23, 2017
What's up in space

Lights Over lapland is excited to announce that Autumn Aurora Adventures are available for immediate booking! Reserve your adventure of a lifetime in Abisko National Park, Sweden today!


GEOMAGNETIC STORMS UNDERWAY: Intermittent G1-class geomagnetic storms are underway on Aug. 23rd as Earth passes through a region of disturbed solar wind. These are minor storms, but they are producing occasional bright auroras below the Arctic Circle. NOAA forecasters say there is a 40% chance that these storms will continue for the next 12-24 hours. Free: Aurora Alerts

SOLAR ECLIPSE IN THE STRATOSPHERE: During the Great American Solar Eclipse on August 21st, and Earth to Sky Calculus launched 11 high-altitude balloons carrying more than 20 cameras from the path of totality. We hoped to catch the Moon's shadow sweeping across the landscape from a vantage point in the stratosphere--and we succeeded! This picture shows the inky-black shadow of the Moon darkening a 70 mile-wide patch of Wyoming/Nebraska:

Sponsored by the Southern Maine Community College, the balloon was launched from Ft. Laramie, Wyoming, by a joint team of Earth to Sky students from Maine and California. This is just a single frame of a much longer HD video still being processed by the launch crew. Stay tuned for footage of the shadow in motion.

Solar Eclipse Photo Gallery

THE GREAT AMERICAN SOLAR ECLIPSE: On Monday, Aug. 21st, the Moon passed directly in front of the sun, producing a total solar eclipse visible in the USA from coast to coast. "The sky darkened so rapidly it was almost impossible to believe," reports Mark Rosengarten, who photographed totality from Madras, Oregon:

"You could actually see darkness in the sky rushing in from the west before totality hit," he says. "As the Moon slid into place over the sun, the corona became visible. There was an inky black circle in the sky with a shimmery ring around it, from which emanated the silvery tendrils of the corona."

"After the eclipse, I fought five hours of absolutely horrifying traffic going home to Portland,"adds Rosengarten. "It was worth every minute."

Outside the path of totality, people witnessed a partial eclipse. The sun turned into a luminous crescent as the Moon passed by, off center. Charles Yeager of Birmingham, Alabama, photographed crescent-shaped sunbeams on an American flag:

"I shot an eclipse in 1984, so I knew to look for this kind of eclipse highlight," he says.

Note: Last week, NASA-supported researchers at Predictive Science Inc. used magnetohydrodynamic models of the sun's atmosphere to predict the appearance of this solar eclipse. Take a look at Rosengarten's photo one more time, then compare it to the prediction. Good match!

Realtime Eclipse Photo Gallery

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

Realtime Aurora Photo Gallery

Realtime Space Weather 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 Aug. 23, 2017, the network reported 41 fireballs.
(39 sporadics, 1 kappa Cygnid, 1 Perseid)

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 August 23, 2017 there were 1803 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Recent & Upcoming Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
Velocity (km/s)
Diameter (m)
2017 QN2
0.6 LD
2017 QO1
10.6 LD
2017 QS16
3.5 LD
2017 PV25
5.5 LD
2017 QT1
2.6 LD
2017 QF3
1.4 LD
2017 PE
19.4 LD
2017 QJ2
9.1 LD
2017 QX1
12.9 LD
2017 QU1
16.2 LD
2017 PL26
14.2 LD
2017 QN1
5.5 LD
2017 QP2
10.1 LD
2017 QQ1
4.8 LD
18.5 LD
2017 OP68
20 LD
2014 RC
15.1 LD
2017 PR25
17.9 LD
1989 VB
7.9 LD
2012 TC4
0.1 LD
2005 TE49
8.5 LD
2013 UM9
17 LD
2006 TU7
18.7 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

Readers, thank you for your patience while we continue to develop this new section of We've been working to streamline our data reduction, allowing us to post results from balloon flights much more rapidly, and we have developed a new data product, shown here:

This plot displays radiation measurements not only in the stratosphere, but also at aviation altitudes. 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. These measurements are made by our usual cosmic ray payload as it passes through aviation altitudes en route to the stratosphere over California.

What is this all about? 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 13% since 2015:

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.

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.

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.

  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
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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
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