Space Weather Observations, Alerts, and Forecast

Click for time-lapse image of the sun

Real Time Images of the Sun from the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO)

SOHO EIT 304
Click for time-lapse image of the sun
SOHO EIT 284
SOHO EIT 284 image of the sun
SOHO EIT 195
SOHO EIT 195 image of the sun

The sun is constantly monitored for sun spots and coronal mass ejections. EIT (Extreme ultraviolet Imaging Telescope) images the solar atmosphere at several wavelengths, and therefore, shows solar material at different temperatures. In the images taken at 304 Angstrom the bright material is at 60,000 to 80,000 degrees Kelvin. In those taken at 171 Angstrom, at 1 million degrees. 195 Angstrom images correspond to about 1.5 million Kelvin, 284 Angstrom to 2 million degrees. The hotter the temperature, the higher you look in the solar atmosphere.

Solar Cycle

Sunspot Number Progression
Graph showing current solar cycle progression
This plot shows the Solar Cycle Sun Spot Number Progression.
F10.7cm Radio Flux Progression
Graph showing current F10.7CM radio flux progression
This plot shows the F10.7cm Radio Flux Progression
AP Progression
Graph showing current solar cycle progression
This plot shows the Solar Cycle AP Progression.

The Solar Cycle or solar magnetic activity cycle is the nearly periodic 11-year change in the Sun's activity (including changes in the levels of solar radiation and ejection of solar material) and appearance (changes in the number and size of sunspots, flares, and other manifestations). They have been observed (by changes in the sun's appearance and by changes seen on Earth, such as auroras) for centuries. The changes on the Sun cause effects in space, in the atmosphere, and on Earth's surface. While it is the dominant variable in solar activity, aperiodic fluctuations also occur.

GOES 3-Day Solar X-ray Flux
Graph showing Real-Time Solar X-ray Flux
3-days of 1-minute plots solar x-ray flux
GOES 6-Hour Solar X-ray Flux
Graph showing Real-Time Solar X-ray Flux
6-hours of 1-minute plots solar x-ray flux

The GOES x-ray plots shown here are used to track solar activity and solar flares. Large solar x-ray flares can change the Earth’s ionosphere, which blocks high-frequency (HF) radio transmissions on the sunlit side of the Earth. Solar flares are also associated with Coronal Mass Ejections (CMEs) which can ultimately lead to geomagnetic storms. SWPC sends out space weather alerts at the M5 (5x10-5 Watts/mw) level. Some large flares are accompanied by strong radio bursts that may interfere with other radio frequencies and cause problems for satellite communication and radio navigation (GPS).

Aurora 30-Minute Forecast

Northern Hemisphere Auroral Map
Current Northern hemispheric power input map
Southern Hemisphere Auroral Map
Current Southern hemispheric power input map

The OVATION Aurora Forecast Model shows the intensity and location of the aurora predicted for the time shown at the top of the map. This probability forecast is based on current solar wind conditions measured at L1, but using a fixed 30-minute delay time between L1 and Earth. A 30-minute delay corresponds to approximately 800 km/s solar wind speed as might be encountered during geomagnetic storming conditions. In reality, delay times vary from less than 30 minutes to an hour or so for average solar wind conditions.

Sunspot Map

Credits:

Space Weather Images and Information courtesy of:
NOAA / NWS Space Weather Prediction Center
SOHO (ESA & NASA).