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Solar wind
speed: 347.3 km/sec
density: 2.3 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 1156 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: B9
0510 UT May17
24-hr: C3
0239 UT May17
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 1100 UT
Daily Sun: 16 May 14
Sunspots AR2056, AR2060 and AR2063 all have 'beta-gamma' magnetic fields that harbor energy for M-class solar flares. Credit: SDO/HMI
Sunspot number: 136
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 16 May 2014

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 0 days
2014 total: 0 days (0%)
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%)

16 May 2014

The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 152 sfu
explanation | more data
Updated 16 May 2014

Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
Planetary K-index
Now: Kp= 1 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 2
explanation | more data
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 5.9 nT
Bz: 1.4 nT south
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 1157 UT
Coronal Holes: 16 May 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: 02-28-2014 16:55:02
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2014 May 16 2200 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
30 %
30 %
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: 2014 May 16 2200 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
05 %
05 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
15 %
15 %
15 %
15 %
05 %
05 %
Saturday, May. 17, 2014
What's up in space

Did you miss the lunar eclipse? No problem. The Coca-Cola Science Center recorded it for you. Click here to play the movie.

2014 Lunar Eclipse Live

IS LIGHTNING A FORM OF SPACE WEATHER? A new study published in the May 15th edition of Environmental Research Letters finds that lightning rates over Europe are modulated by the solar wind. The results contradict some previous studies, and the physical mechanism linking lightning and solar wind is uncertain. Nevertheless, the research appears credible and worthy of follow-up with global studies beyond Europe. Read the full report. Solar wind alerts: text, voice

EXTREMOPHILES BLASTED BY COSMIC RADIATION: On May 10th, the students of Earth to Sky Calculus flew four colonies of halobacteria to the stratosphere, setting a high-altitude ballooning record for this species of microbe. During the two and a half hour flight, they ascended to 111,000 feet. Radiation data from an X-ray/gamma-ray sensor on the payload have just been analyzed and, suffice it to say, the microbes had a blast:

The halobacteria were hit by ionizing radiation 28 times stronger than at ground level, similar to what they might experience on the planet Mars. It might seem counterintuitive that the radiation peak did not occur at the apex of the flight. Instead, the extremophiles absorbed their greatest dose about half way up. This peak at ~60,000 feet is the "Pfotzer Maximum," named after physicist George Pfotzer who discovered it using balloons and Geiger tubes in the 1930s.

When cosmic rays crash into Earth's atmosphere, they produce a spray of secondary particles. With increasing depth in the atmosphere, primary cosmic rays decrease as the secondary particles increase. This complex situation results in a maximum dose rate in the tropopause, not the overlying stratosphere. .

The students have been flying halobacteria through the Pfotzer Maximum to explore the possibility that terrestrial extremophiles could survive in places like Mars. The answers are growing inside an incubator in the students' AP Biology classroom. Stay tuned for updates from the Petri dish.

Realtime Space Weather Photo Gallery

PINK PLANET AT SUNSET: The Pink Planet is back. After an absence of more than 3 months, Mercury is emerging from the glare of the sun and making itself visible again in the evening sky. Giuseppe Petricca sends this picture taken last night in the Peligna Valley of central Italy,

"We had a wonderful sunset with beautiful twilight colors," says Petricca. "In the middle of my photographic session I remembered that Mercury would be visible, and indeed it was. It was the only bright dot shining through the twilight."

Mercury is mostly gray, not pink, but many observers perceive it as pink because of the surrounding rosy glow of sunset. Look west at sunset. What color do you see?

The view will improve in the evenings ahead. Mercury is heading for its best apparition of 2014 on May 25th when it willl be a full 23 degrees from the sun. Keep an eye on the sunset--and Mercury; it's a nice way to end the day.

Realtime Space Weather Photo Gallery

Realtime Aurora Photo Gallery

Realtime Mars Photo Gallery

Realtime Comet 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 May. 13, 2014, the network reported 7 fireballs.
(5 sporadics, 1 eta Lyrid, 1 eta Aquariid)

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 May 17, 2014 there were 1475 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Recent & Upcoming Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
2014 JD
May 9
7.7 LD
24 m
2014 JG55
May 10
0.3 LD
7 m
2014 JW55
May 13
4.3 LD
23 m
2014 JH15
May 17
8 LD
58 m
2010 JO33
May 17
4 LD
43 m
2005 UK1
May 20
36.7 LD
1.1 km
1997 WS22
May 21
47.1 LD
1.5 km
2002 JC
May 24
48.7 LD
1.4 km
2014 HQ124
Jun 8
3.2 LD
615 m
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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