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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Solar wind
speed: 523.3 km/sec
density: 11.06 protons/cm3
more data: ACE, DSCOVR
Updated: Today at 1146 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: C9
2301 UT Jul26
24-hr: M4
1037 UT Jul26
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2350 UT
Daily Sun: 26 Jul 23
Expand: labels | no labels | Carrington
Sunspots AR3376 and AR3380 pose a threat for M-class solar flares. Credit: SDO/HMI

Sunspot number: 137
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 26 Jul 2023

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 0 days
2023 total: 0 days (0%)
2022 total: 1 day (<1%)
2021 total: 64 days (18%)
2020 total: 208 days (57%)
2019 total: 281 days (77%)
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 26 Jul 2023

Thermosphere Climate Index
today: 20.43x1010 W Warm
Max: 49.4
x1010 W Hot (10/1957)
Min: 2.05
x1010 W Cold (02/2009)
explanation | more data: gfx, txt
Updated 26 Jul 2023

The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 169 sfu
explanation | more data
Updated 26 Jul 2023

Cosmic Rays Solar Cycle 25 is intensifying, and this is reflected in the number of cosmic rays entering Earth's atmosphere. Neutron counts from the University of Oulu's Sodankyla Geophysical Observatory show that cosmic rays reaching Earth are slowly declining--a result of the yin-yang relationship between the solar cycle and cosmic rays.

Oulu Neutron Counts

Percentages of the Space Age average:
today: -2.2% Below Average
48-hr change: -0.5%
Max: +11.7% Very High
Min: -32.1% Very Low (06/1991)
explanation | more data
Updated 26 Jul 2023 @ 1700 UT

Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
Credit: NOAA/Ovation
Planetary K-index
Now: Kp= 2.33 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 4.67
explanation | more data
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 6.80 nT
Bz: 0.21 nT north
more data: ACE, DSCOVR
Updated: Today at 1146 UT
Coronal Holes: 26 Jul 23

There are no significant equatorial coronal holes on the Earthside of the sun.
Credit: SDO/AIA

Noctilucent Clouds
The northern season for NLCs began on May 26th. The first clouds were detected inside the Arctic Circle by the NOAA 21 satellite. An instrument onboard NOAA 21 (OMPS LP) is able to detect NLCs (also known as "polar mesospheric clouds" or PMCs). For the rest of the season, daily maps from NOAA 21 will be presented here:

Updated: Jul 21, 2023

Each dot is a detected cloud. As the season progresses, these dots will multiply in number and shift in hue from blue to red as the brightness of the clouds intensifies.

What happened to NASA's AIM spacecraft, which has been monitoring NLCs since 2007? Earlier this year, the spacecraft's battery failed. As a result AIM is offline, perhaps permanently. There may be some hope of a recovery as AIM's orbit precesses into full sunlight in 2024. Until then, we will maintain AIM's iconic "daily daisy," frozen at Feb. 28, 2023, as a show of thanks for years of service and hope for future daisies:
Switch view:Ross Ice Shelf, Antarctic Peninsula, East Antarctica, Polar
Updated Jul26
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2023 Jul 26 2200 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
35 %
25 %
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: 2023 Jul 26 2200 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
35 %
20 %
25 %
05 %
05 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
15 %
20 %
25 %
20 %
45 %
15 %
Wednesday, Jul. 26, 2023
What's up in space

This is an AI Free Zone! Text created by ChatGPT and other Large Language Models is spreading rapidly across the Internet. It's well-written, artificial, frequently inaccurate. If you find a mistake on, rest assured it was made by a real human being.


MYSTERY CME SPARKS GEOMAGNETIC STORM: Unexpectedly, a CME hit Earth's magnetic field on July 25th (2235 UT), sparking a G1-class geomagnetic storm. It is unclear if this is the early arrival of a CME originally expected on July 27th or a completely different CME which was previously overlooked. Because of the uncertainty, a minor geomagnetic storm watch is still in effect for July 27th. Aurora alerts: SMS Text

WELCOME BACK, STEVE: During last night's geomagnetic storm, Jody Majko of Bragg Creek, Alberta, went outside to look for auroras. Instead, there was STEVE:

"STEVE decided to make an appearance for a couple of hours shortly after midnight," says Majko. "It beamed from the north horizon almost to the south horizon--the brightest I've ever seen it!"

STEVE (Strong Thermal Emission Velocity Enhancement) looks like an aurora, but it is not. The phenomenon is caused by hot (3000°C) ribbons of gas flowing through Earth’s magnetosphere at speeds exceeding 6 km/s (13,000 mph). These ribbons appear during some geomagnetic storms, revealing themselves by their soft purple glow.

Realtime STEVE Photo Gallery
Free: Newsletter

A COMET SHAPED LIKE THE MILLENNIUM FALCON: Until a few days ago, Comet 12P/Pons-Brooks looked like a perfectly ordinary comet. Then, something on its surface exploded. Now it resembles "the fastest hunk of junk in the galaxy"--the Millennium Falcon:

These images are hot off the press (July 25.434) from the Comet Chasers, a team of researchers led by Helen Usher of Cardiff/The Open Universities. They are using telescopes at the Las Cumbres Observatory network to monitor this comet's unusual eruption.

The action began on July 20th when the comet abruptly brightnened 100-fold. Astronomers watched as double plumes of debris streamed out of the comet's core, sweeping back to form the Falcon shape. It is now shining with about the same brightness as an 11th magnitude star, making it an easy target for mid-sized backyard telescopes.

Comet 12P/Pons-Brooks is famous for exploding. Discovered in 1812 by Pons and discovered again in 1883 by Brooks, the bursty comet visits the inner solar system every 71 years. Since the 19th century at least seven significant outbursts have been observed.

At the Astronomical Station Vidojevica in Serbia, astronomers Igor Smolić and Marco Grazdanovic took a closer look using the station's big 1.4 meter telescope:

"This is a 60x30s exposure," says Smolić. "[It reveals the origin of the 'horns' curving out of the comet's compact core]."

Richard Miles of the British Astronomical Association thinks 12P may be one of 10 to 20 known comets with active ice volcanoes. The "magma" is a cold mixture of liquid hydrocarbons and dissolved gasses, all trapped beneath a surface which has the consistency of wax. These bottled-up volatiles love to explode when sunlight opens a fissure.

The best may be yet to come. The comet is currently beyond the orbit of Mars, but falling toward the sun for a close encounter in April 2024. At that time it is expected to become a naked-eye object at 4th or 5th magnitude.The timing is significant because 12P will reach maximum brightness only a few days before the total solar eclipse on April 8, 2024. Sky watchers in the path of totality could look up and see an outburst for themselves.

Amateur astronomers are encouraged to monitor developments. Comet 12P is currently crossing the head of Draco not far from the north celestial pole. Check out those horns! And submit your photos here.

more images: from Thomas Wildoner of Weatherly, PA; from David Strange of Salcombe Regis, East Devon, UK; from the Sormano Astronomical Observatory in Sormano CO Italy; from Tony Kiefer of Lexington, KY

Realtime Space Weather Photo Gallery
Free: Newsletter

STERLING SILVER STARCAT: Are you looking for a far-out gift? Introducing the Sterling SIlver StarCat Pendant. On July 14th, it hitched a ride to the stratosphere onboard an Earth to Sky Calculus cosmic ray research balloon:

You can have it for $159.95. The silver feline form is wrapped around a genuine moonstone with a matching 18 inch Italian sterling silver chain. It is 100% hypoallergenic.

The students of Earth to Sky are selling space pendants to support their cosmic ray ballooning program. Each one comes with a greeting card showing the pendant in flight and telling the story of its trip to the stratosphere and back again.

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

Realtime Noctilucent Cloud Photo Gallery
Free: Newsletter

Realtime Aurora 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 26, 2023, the network reported 21 fireballs.
(14 sporadics, 5 alpha Capricornids, 2 southern Delta Aquarids)

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 26, 2023 there were 2335 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Recent & Upcoming Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
Velocity (km/s)
Diameter (m)
2023 OS
5.1 LD
2023 OV1
1.4 LD
2023 NM1
13.3 LD
2023 MX5
11.9 LD
2023 NR1
2.9 LD
2023 MM3
19.1 LD
2023 OU
1.8 LD
2023 OZ1
17.1 LD
2015 MA54
16.6 LD
2023 OW
19.8 LD
2023 OR1
3.1 LD
2018 BG5
10.8 LD
2020 PP1
17 LD
2021 BD3
14 LD
2023 OQ2
4.1 LD
2016 AW65
16.7 LD
2023 OF1
17.8 LD
2020 PN1
10.8 LD
14 LD
2023 OQ
9.9 LD
2004 KG1
19.9 LD
2022 BS2
17.3 LD
2022 CP1
13.8 LD
2011 QJ21
13 LD
15.9 LD
2012 PZ17
16.8 LD
2017 BY32
16.4 LD
2021 JA5
13.3 LD
2020 GE
14.9 LD
2020 RT2
11 LD
2016 LY48
5 LD
2010 TE
6.8 LD
19.8 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.
  Cosmic Rays in the Atmosphere

SPACE WEATHER BALLOON DATA: Almost 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 sensors that detect secondary cosmic rays, a form of radiation from space that can penetrate all the way down to Earth's surface. Our monitoring program has been underway without interruption for 7 years, resulting in a unique dataset of in situ atmospheric measurements.

Latest results (July 2022): Atmospheric radiation is decreasing in 2022. Our latest measurements in July 2022 registered a 6-year low:

What's going on? Ironically, the radiation drop is caused by increasing solar activity. Solar Cycle 25 has roared to life faster than forecasters expected. The sun's strengthening and increasingly tangled magnetic field repels cosmic rays from deep space. In addition, solar coronal mass ejections (CMEs) sweep aside cosmic rays, causing sharp reductions called "Forbush Decreases." The two effects blend together to bring daily radiation levels down.

.Who cares? Cosmic rays are a surprisingly "down to Earth" form of space weather. They can alter the chemistry of the atmosphere, trigger lightning, and penetrate commercial airplanes. According to a study from the Harvard T.H. Chan school of public health, crews of aircraft have higher rates of cancer than the general population. The researchers listed cosmic rays, irregular sleep habits, and chemical contaminants as leading risk factors. A number of controversial studies (#1, #2, #3, #4) go even further, linking cosmic rays with cardiac arrhythmias and sudden cardiac death.

Technical notes: 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.

Data points in the graph labeled "Stratospheric Radiation" correspond to the peak of the Regener-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 Regener 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.
  information about sunspots based on the latest NOAA/USAF Active Region Summary
Starlink Satellite Statistics
  current counts of failed and deployed Starlink satellites from Jonathan's Space Page
The Aerospace Corporation
  Authoritative predictions of space junk and satellite re-entries
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
Live Aurora Webcam
  from Lights over Lapland
  the underlying science of space weather

To get the best views of the cosmos, check out the Phoenix Window Glass Replacement experts for all your window and glass needs

To get an up close view of the heavenly bodies surrounding Earth, think about selling your junk car for cash and buying a high quality telescope.
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NASA Near Earth Asteroid Home Page

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