Culgoora Solar image - White light
radio propagation
Today's Space Weather
Wednesday 20 August
last updated 19/2333 UT
Very low to low solar flare activity. Minor coronal mass ejection effects in progress from the 15 Aug filament eruption which impacted at ~0600 UT 19 Aug. Light solar wind. Geomagnetic conditions at unsettled to active levels with isolated minor storm periods possible in first half of 20 Aug. High-frequency radio communications fair to normal. Travelling waves in the ionosphere and variable MUF support may degrade communications at times.
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
Closeup of a sunspot showing convection cells.
What's Inside