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Solar wind
speed: 327.5 km/sec
density: 1.8 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2347 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: C1
2154 UT Aug15
24-hr: C1
2154 UT Aug15
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2300 UT
Daily Sun: 15 Aug 14
Solar activity is very low. None of these sunspots poses a threat for strong flares. Credit: SDO/HMI
Sunspot number: 108
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 15 Aug 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%)

15 Aug 2014

The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 103 sfu
explanation | more data
Updated 15 Aug 2014

Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
Planetary K-index
Now: Kp= 0 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 2
explanation | more data
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 3.7 nT
Bz: 1.7 nT south
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2347 UT
Coronal Holes: 15 Aug 14
There are no large coronal holes on the Earthside of the sun. 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: 08-15-2014 16:55:08
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2014 Aug 15 2200 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
05 %
05 %
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: 2014 Aug 15 2200 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
10 %
05 %
05 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
15 %
15 %
15 %
10 %
15 %
05 %
Friday, Aug. 15, 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

EARTH-DIRECTED ERUPTION: A magnetic filament snaking down the middle of the solar disk erupted on Aug. 15th at approximately 1700 UT. Quick-look data from NASA's STEREO probes suggest that the blast hurled a CME toward Earth. If so, the cloud would probably arrive on or about Aug. 18th. Stay tuned for updates.

THE LANDSCAPE OF A COMET: On August 6th, Europe's Rosetta spacecraft rendezvoused with Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko and began to fly alongside it. Seven days later, mission scientists released this spectacular view of the comet's double-lobed core:

A closer look reveals many interesting features: While the comet's head (in the top half of the image) is scored with parallel linear features, the neck is peppered with boulders resting on a smooth underlying terrain. In comparison, the comet's body (lower half of the image) is jagged and dimpled by crater-like depressions.

Now imagine this magnificent landscape ruptured by dozens of geysers spewing dust and gas into space. Future pictures may show exactly that. Rosetta will follow this comet for more than a year as it approaches the sun. In 2015, if not sooner, solar heating will activate the comet's icy core, creating a riot of activity the likes of which no spacecraft has ever seen before. Stay tuned for that.

Realtime Comet Photo Gallery

PERSEID METEOR UPDATE: Earth is now exiting the debris stream of Comet Swift-Tuttle, bringing an end to the Perseid meteor shower. According to the International Meteor Organization, the shower peaked on August 13th with as many as 70 meteors/hr (ZHR). As the shower subsides, you can continue to hear late-arriving Perseid radar echoes on Space Weather Radio.

Before the Perseid meteor shower began, forecasters worried that people might not see it due to the glare of a supermoon. This photo illustrates why the Perseids succeeded in spite of lunar interference; the shower is rich in fireballs:

"This was the brightest Perseid I saw on the night of August 12/13," says photographer Pete Lawrence. "Visually, it was a stunner!"

After the meteor exploded over Lawrence's home in Selsey, UK, a wispy trail of debris appeared where the meteor had been a split-second before. "I recorded it in the very next frame," he says.

This is "meteor smoke," a sinuous cloud of microscopic cinders tracing the path of the incinerating fireball. The particles of meteor smoke disperse in Earth's upper atmosphere and, ultimately, become the seeds of noctilucent clouds. All meteors produce such smoke, but only the brightest fireballs create a lingering trail bright enough to see with the unaided eye.

Light from the supermoon, ironically, helps us see meteor smoke, because reflected moonlight increases the visibility of smoky debris. As a result, the smoke may have been photographed more often than usual during the 2014 Perseids. Browse the realtime meteor gallery to search for additional examples.

Realtime Meteor Photo Gallery

CONVERGING PLANETS: Venus and Jupiter are converging for a stunning conjunction in the pre-dawn sky. At closest approach on August 18th, the two planets will be just 0.2 degrees apart, tight enough to hide behind the tip of your outstretched pinky. Flying astrophotographer, pilot Brian Whittaker, photographed the converging pair 35,000 feet over Northern Ontario, Canada, on August 12th:

"I spotted Jupiter with Venus just 6 days before the super conjunction," says Whittaker. "It was a beautiful view--and it's only going to get better."

Observing tips: Look east about 30 minutes before sunrise. A clear view of the horizon is required to see the low-hanging pair. Each morning between now and the 18th the distance between the two will decrease as they converge for their dramatic meeting next Monday.

No special optics are required to see the amazingly bright pair, but if you have binoculars, use them.  A quick scan of the sky around Venus and Jupiter on August 18th reveals that the two worlds are not alone.  The planets are converging right beside M44, the Beehive Cluster. Located about 500 light years from Earth, this busy cluster of stars is barely visible to the naked eye, but it is an easy target for ordinary binoculars.  At first glance it might seem that a pair of supernovas has gone off inside the cluster—but that's just Venus and Jupiter passing by.

Photographers, if you take pictures of the morning show, submit them here.

Realtime Space Weather Photo Gallery

Realtime Aurora Photo Gallery

Realtime NLC 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. 15, 2014, the network reported 57 fireballs.
(33 Perseids, 21 sporadics, 3 kappa Cygnids)

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 15, 2014 there were 1492 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Recent & Upcoming Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
2001 RZ11
Aug 17
34.2 LD
2.2 km
2013 WT67
Aug 17
16.1 LD
1.1 km
2013 RZ53
Sep 9
1.9 LD
3 m
2002 CE26
Sep 9
47.9 LD
1.8 km
2009 RR
Sep 16
2 LD
34 m
2006 GQ2
Sep 19
65.9 LD
1.1 km
2009 FG19
Sep 26
34.6 LD
1.1 km
2014 NE52
Sep 30
61.2 LD
1.1 km
2001 EA16
Oct 7
35.5 LD
1.9 km
2011 TB4
Oct 9
5.8 LD
34 m
2003 UC20
Oct 31
52.4 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
Space Weather Alerts
  more links...
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