FORECAST SOL: Normal green MAG: Moderate yellow ION: Moderate yellow
SDO solar image - 171 angstroms - Courtesy of NASA/SDO and the AIA, EVE, and HMI science teams.
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Today's Space Weather
Thursday 08 December
last updated 07/2339 UT
Very low solar flare activity is expected for today, December 8. The earth is currently under the influence of a large southern hemisphere coronal hole. Solar winds are expected to reach very high levels of ~700 km/s later today and as a result active to minor storm conditions could occur today. Auroras may be visible on the local nights of 8 and 9 December in Tasmania and possibly the coastline of Victoria. High-frequency radio communications users are advised to use lower than the monthly predicted frequencies due to ionospheric depressions associated with the current magnetic storms.
What is Space Weather ?

Space weather refers to changes in the space environment, particularly the region between the Earth and Sun. The "solar wind" from the Sun stream past the Earth and is mostly deflected by the Earth's magnetic field, but variations in the solar wind cause changes in the Earth's magnetic field.

solar prominence

Occasionally, a huge release of magnetic energy, called a solar flare, occurs on the Sun. Flares can produce large quantities of x-rays which affect the Earth's atmosphere. They can also accelerate atomic particles (mostly protons) to very high speeds (a substantial fraction of the speed of light!). These high energy particles are dangerous to man and can reach the stratosphere where jetliners fly.

Most aspects of space weather affect us to some extent. The more our society becomes dependent on technology and the more we utilise space, the more we are affected by space weather. Some aspects of space weather are benevolent, and allow activities not otherwise possible such as long range radio communications. Some aspects are benign but fascinating such as the Aurora, and some are malevolent. Like terrestrial weather, it sometimes depends on the situation and the event.

The image below is an artists impression of the solar wind interacting with the Earth's magnetic field.

Solar wind
Combined image of active region 1520 shortly before it unleashed an X-class flare. The image is made up of light in the 171 Angstrom wavelength, and a magnetogram.
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