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NW7US Space Weather / Radio Proapgation Podcast; E4 - Subject: No more sunspots by 2015!? It is possible, if the trend revealed in current sunspot research at Kitt Peak, AZ, continues. Listen now!

Podcast home: NW7US Podcast

Gain the on-air edge: This article explains how the ANTENNA is the key! -> Read this introduction to Antenna Modeling



X-ray Conditions (Flares) 5-min.

X-ray plot

X-ray Conditions (Flares) 1-min.

X-ray plot

Geomagnetic Conditions (Kp)

plot of Kp

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Satellite Environment Plot

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Warnings/Alerts issued
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(Key: NOAA Scales)

[ live aurora display ]
[ auroral power maps ]

[ d-layer conditions ]

[ latest solar images 1 ]
[ latest solar images 2 ]
[ latest solar images 3 ]

[ active solar regions ]
[ current solar region image ]

[ What is a flare and its class? ]

Recent Space Environment Reports:

+ Reports of Solar & Geophysical Activity
+ Solar & Geophysical Activity Summaries

From the Space Environment Center:

Solar X-ray Flux

+ A 3 day plot of 5-minute solar X-ray flux values measured on the GOES 8 and 10 satellites.
+ A 6-hour 1-min Solar X-ray Flux plot

Satellite Environment Plot

[ Proton Flux ] [Electron Flux ]
[ GEOS Hp ] [ Estimated Kp ]

Additional Resources

+ Aurora Network
+ D-Layer Absorption Conditions/Predictions
+ 160 Meter Propagation Forecast
+ Solar Physics Department of the Royal Observatory of Belgium, the official keepers of sunspot data.

Solar Activity Forecast
The Forecast of Solar Activity as well as Geomagnetic Activity

Probability of Flares
and Proton Events
0-24 hrs
24-48 hrs
Geomagnetic Activity Probabilities

Middle latitudes
High latitudes

0-24 hrs
24-48 hrs
0-24 hrs
24-48 hrs
Minor Storm
Major-severe Storm

Solar Sunspot Cycle 24 Progress

Solar Cycle 24 Smoothed Sunspot Progress
Solar Cycle 24 10.7-cm Monthly Progress
Solar Cycle 24 Planetary A Index (Ap) Monthly Progress
Do you want the latest solar conditions sent to you as an RSS feed? Click: XML RSS propagation feed

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This page was rendered on 28-Mar-15 0145 UTC.
This page was first created in 1998, by Tomas David Hood (NW7US)

Current Sunspot Cycle 24 Activity and Space Weather

Please share this page:

Sun Spots: 103 as of 03/26/2015 :: 10.7-cm Flux: 138 SFU
(SFU=Solar Flux Units)

Space Weather Overview Graphic from SWPC

The Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) Latest Solar Images
Click on an image for full-sized view

SDO - Solar Dynamics Observatory     SDO - Solar Dynamics Observatory

D Region Absorption Predictions (D-RAP) Global Map

Map, Above: Conditions in the D region of the ionosphere have a dramatic effect on high frequency (HF) communications and low frequency (LF) navigation systems. The global D Region Absorption Predictions (D-RAP) depicts the D region at high latitudes where it is driven by particles as well as low latitudes, where photons cause the prompt changes.

Note: At times, images may appear broken or missing, when SDO is working on the AIA/HMI instruments.

Planetary A-index (Ap): 8 | Planetary K-index (Kp): 2
Solar Wind: 375 km/s at 9.0 protons/cm3, Bz is 5.0 nT
(Mar 28, 2015 at 0138 UT)

X-ray Solar Flares:
6h hi [C1.8][1506Z 03/27] 24h hi [C1.8][1506Z 03/27]

Background X-ray Level, Last Six Days

Mar 26 2015 :: B4.5
Mar 25 2015 :: B5.4
Mar 24 2015 :: B4.8
Mar 23 2015 :: B4.7
Mar 22 2015 :: B4.0
Mar 21 2015 :: B4.0

Check out the current Aurora Oval and activity.

If you are using software utilities such as Ace-HF, that require a "smoothed" sunspot number
(Referred to as the SSN), or the smoothed 10.7-cm flux index,
use the following predicted values in this table:

To understand more about the Maximum Usable Frequencies, and related
science, please read the MUF Basics Page.

Global HF Propagation Conditions
Global HF Propagation Conditions for 0100Z on 28 Mar, 2015
High Latitude: Normal
Middle Latitude: Normal
Low Latitude: Normal

Geomagnetic Latitude Ranges:
High: 60-90 degrees
Middle: 20-60 degrees
Low: 0-20 degrees

Global Ionospheric Map - Critical Frequencies - foF2 (Created with PropLab PRO)
Critical foF2 map (2014 June 08 at 1000 UTC)

At 0805 UTC, on 9 August 2011, a strong magnitude X6.9 X-ray flare -- the strongest yet in this current solar cycle (Cycle 24) -- erupted on the northwestern solar limb. Here is a HD Movie of the event:

Videos of Interest - Space Weather, Solar Dynamics Observatory, STEREO, and more... from the NW7US YouTube Channel. (Click on the small image to launch the video...)

Video: Voyager Finds Magnetic Foam at Solar Systems Edge
Video: Voyager Finds Magnetic Foam at Solar Systems Edge

Video: Zoom View of Prominence Eruption and X-Ray Flare - M2.5 Magnitude - June 7 2011
Video: Zoom View of Prominence Eruption and X-Ray Flare - M2.5 Magnitude - June 7 2011

Video: X-Ray Flare, Coronal Mass Ejection, Proton Storm - M2.5 Magnitude - June 7 2011
Video: X-Ray Flare, Coronal Mass Ejection, Proton Storm - M2.5 Magnitude - June 7 2011 (Close-up of the video, above)

Video: Stunning Close-up View of M3 X-Ray Flare 24 February 2011
Video: Stunning Close-up View of M3 X-Ray Flare 24 February 2011

Video: June 2011 20-meter (14-Mhz) JT65A Coverage Map of NW7US Radio Signal
Video: June 2011 20-meter (14-Mhz) JT65A Coverage Map of NW7US Radio Signal

The NW7US Current Sunspot and Geophysical Activity Report
The observations, prognastications, and comments by NW7US
NW7US is Tomas David Hood, Propagation and Space Weather Columnist
for CQ Communications

More about Background X-rays

The hard X-ray energy present from the wavelengths of 1 to 8 Angstroms provide the most effective ionizing energy throughout all of the ionospheric layers in our atmosphere. The GEOS satellites measure these wavelengths and the resulting measurements are reported as the "background X-ray level" throughout the day. A daily average is reported, as well.

Just like X-ray flares, the background hard X-ray level is measured in watts per square meter (W/m2), reported using the categories, A, B, C, M, and X. These letters are multipliers; each class has a peak flux ten times greater than the preceding one. Within a class there is a linear scale from 1 to 9.

If one records the daily background X-ray levels for the course of a sunspot cycle, one would discover that the background X-ray levels remained at the A class level during the sunspot cycle minumum. During the rise and fall of a solar cycle, the background X-ray energy levels remained mostly in the B range. During peak solar cycle periods, the background energy reached the C and sometimes even M levels.

Armed with this information, can we discover any clues as to the current status of Sunspot Cycle 24? Below is a graph plotting the background hard X-ray energy reported by the GEOS satellites since the end of Sunspot Cycle 22. Clearly, we see a noticeable rise in Cycle 24 activity. We're seeing the energy mostly in the B level more often, supporting the view that Cycle 24 is alive and moving along toward an eventual sunspot cycle peak in several years.

Overall, the monthly average background 'hard' X-ray level is rising (as seen by the following plot), showing a change from deep solar cycle minimum. We are certainly in the rising phase of Sunspot Cycle 24. While it has been a slow up-tick over the last eighteen months, I expect to see a more rapid rise during mid to late 2011.

Background X-ray (1 to 8 Angstrom) Plot

Highlights of Solar and Geomagnetic Activity
Covering the period: 01 - 07 December 2014

Solar activity ranged from low to high levels with the majority of activity occurring from Region 2222 (S19, L=085, class/area Ekc/770 on 04 December). Region 2222 produced a total of 54 C-flares and 5 M-flares since it began its transit on the visible disk on 26 November. The largest flares of the period were an M1/1n at 01/0641 UTC, an M1/1n at 04/0810 UTC, a long duration M6 at 04/1825 UTC, an M1 at 04/1941 UTC, and another M1 at 05/1225 UTC. Region 2222 continued to be in a growth phase through 04 December, when it began to decay. By the end of the period, the region was a large Hkx/alpha group with approximately 640 millionths of area. No Earth-directed coronal mass ejections were observed.

No proton events were observed at geosynchronous orbit.

The greater than 2 MeV electron flux at geosynchronous orbit was normal levels on 02 December, moderate levels on 01 and 03-06 December, and reached high levels on 07 December. Maximum flux values of 2,030 pfu were observed at 07/1755 UTC.

Geomagnetic field activity ranged from quiet to minor storm levels. Solar wind parameters measured at the ACE satellite were indicative of two negative polarity coronal hole high speed streams (CH HSS). The first began just after midday on 01 December. Solar wind speeds gradually increased from approximately 430 km/s to near 630 km/s while total field reached a peak of around 14 nT. Solar wind speed declined by 03 December, but remained enhanced around 400 km/s to 550 km/s through the majority of the period. By early on 06 December, total field increased to a maximum of 25 nT along with an increase in density as a co-rotating interaction region (CIR) began to influence the geomagnetic field. Solar wind speed showed an increase late on 06 December and through 07 December to a maximum around 800 km/s as a southern polar coronal hole extension became geoeffective. The geomagnetic field responded with quiet to unsettled levels on 02-03 and 05 December, quiet to active levels on 01, 04, and 06 December, and unsettled to minor storm (G1-Minor) on 07 December.

Monthly and smoothed sunspot number - The monthly mean sunspot number (blue) and 13-month smoothed monthly sunspot number (red) for the last five cycles. You can see that this current cycle, Cycle 24, is a weak cycle, compared to the last few.

(Click to see actual size)
Monthly and smoothed sunspot number chart

Daily and monthly sunspot number (last 13 years)

Daily sunspot number (yellow), monthly mean sunspot number (blue), smoothed monthly sunspot number (red) for the last 13 years and 12-month ahead predictions of the monthly smoothed sunspot number:

SC (red dots) : prediction method based on an interpolation of Waldmeier's standard curves; It is only based on the sunspot number series.

CM (red dashes) : method (from K. Denkmayr and P. Cugnon) combining a regression technique applied to the sunspot number series with the aa geomagnetic index used as a precursor (improved predictions during the minimum phase between solar cycles).

(Click to see actual size)
Daily and monthly sunspot number (last 13 years)

What is 'Space Weather'? Click on these two information slides to view them in full size:

What is Space Weather? Slide 1 of 2 What is Space Weather? Slide 2 of 2

View of numbered sunspot regions and plages (if any)
(Click for large view)

Active Regions and Plages

Active sunspot regions, and plages, identified by SIDC

SIDC Solar Disc with active regions and plages

Latest GOES 15 Image of the Sun

Latest GOES-15 Image of the Sun

STEREO Behind Image
What is coming
SOHO EIT 195 Image
Current View
STEREO Ahead Image
What was...

Real Time Solor Wind and Aurora:

On 2014 Dec 09 1853Z: Bz: -3.9 nT
Bx: -3.7 nT | By: 0.4 nT | Total: 5.4 nT
Most recent satellite polar pass:
Centered on 12/09/2014 : 1725 UTC
Aurora Activity Level was 4 at 1725 UTC
visit noaa for latest.

[ See this current Aurora Oval Map ]

This is a video of the simulation from May 27-28, 2011, showing
the Geomagnetic disturbance caused by the solar wind

All NICT images are Copyright@NICT,
used by express, written permission from NICT

Space Weather and Propagation Forecast
Prepared by the US Dept. of Commerce, NOAA,
and the Space Weather Prediction Center

Three Day Forecast of Solar and Geomagnetic Activity
(as of 2200Z on 07 Dec 2014)

Solar Forecast:

Solar activity is expected to be low with a chance for M-class flares on days one, two, and three (08 Dec, 09 Dec, 10 Dec).

Geomagnetic Forecast:

The geomagnetic field is expected to be at quiet to minor storm levels on day one (08 Dec), quiet to active levels on day two (09 Dec) and quiet levels on day three (10 Dec).

Forecast of Solar and Geomagnetic Activity
08 December - 03 January 2015

Solar activity is expected to be at low levels with a chance for M-class flaring (R1-R2, Minor to Moderate) for the forecast period as region 2222 continues to rotate off the visible disk as well as the return of old Region 2209 (S13, L=251) on 08 December.

No proton events are expected at geosynchronous orbit.

The greater than 2 MeV electron flux at geosynchronous orbit is expected to reach high levels from 08-22 and again on 03 January due to CH HSS influence.

Geomagnetic field activity is expected to be at unsettled to minor storm (G1-Minor) on 08 December and 03 January due to CIR/CH HSS activity. Unsettled, with possible active, levels are expected on 09, 12-15, 17-20, 28-29 December due to recurrent CH HSS effects. Quiet to unsettled with possible isolated active periods are expected from 31 December through 02 January due to possible recurrent extended periods of negative Bz as part of a variable current sheet.

Real-time foF2 map from IPS (Ionospheric Prediction Service), Australian Space Weather Agency

foF2 Map from IPS, Australia

Space Weather Page

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view larger versions

The following images
are from SOHO

C2 LASCO Image
C3 LASCO Image

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Purchase the STD Internet Space Weather & Radio Propagation Forecasting Course

Solar Terrestrial Dispatch (STD) is a world-leader in space weather forecasting services, as was demonstrated in late October and early November 2003 (Oler, C., "Prediction Performance of Space Weather Forecast Centers during the Extreme Space Weather Events of October and November 2003," published in the peer-reviewed scientific journal "Space Weather" by the American Geophysical Union in 2004). A copy of this paper is available here.

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The course, if you choose the option, also includes the STD's powerful and popular Proplab-Pro HF Radio Propagation Laboratory software! All software products are optional elaborate tools that will contribute to your application of the knowledge obtained through this course.

NOTE: The certificate is no longer being offered. The course, never-the-less, still provides you with a very well-rounded knowledge base with which you can understand and work with space weather and radio propagation data.

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A list of the topics covered in this home-study course include:
  • The Sun
    • Basics of the Sun
    • Sunspots
      • Types of Sunspots
      • Sunspot Magnetic Fields
    • Solar Radiation and Radio Emissions
    • Solar Cycles
    • Techniques for Modelling Solar Cycles
    • Sources of Information and Imagery
  • Interplanetary Space
    • The Solar Wind
    • Magnetic Fields
    • Heliospheric Current Sheet
    • Solar Sector Structures
  • The Earth
    • Magnetosphere
      • The quiet magnetosphere
      • The disturbed magnetosphere
      • Understanding Magnetic Indices
      • Magnetic Storms
        • Sudden Storm Commencements (SSCs)
        • Gradual Storm Commencements
      • Geomagnetically Induced Currents (GICs)
        • Effects on Electrical Hydro Systems
        • Effects on Other Long Conductors
    • Ionosphere
      • Formation of Ionospheric Layers
      • Factors Affecting Ionospheric Layers
  • Solar Disturbances
    • Transient Solar Coronal Mass Ejections (CMEs)
      • Types and Structures of Coronal Mass Ejections
      • Understanding the Importance of CME Structures
      • Inferring CME Structures from Available Solar Data
      • Coronal Mass Ejection Detection Methods
      • Using IMPACT (software) to Aid in CME Disturbance Predictions
      • Solar Cycle Dependencies
    • Solar Flares
      • Basic Nature of Flares
      • Types of Flares
      • Flare Rating Systems
      • Significance of Proton Flares
      • Ground Level Events (GLEs)
      • Fast Transit Events
      • Interpreting Magnetograms
      • Determining Magnetic Shear and Flare Susceptability
      • Solar Flare (and Proton Flare) Prediction Techniques
      • Solar Flare Related Coronal Mass Ejection Prediction Techniques
      • Sources of Solar Flare Information
    • Solar Coronal Holes
      • Coronal Hole Basics
      • Recurrence
      • Solar Cycle Correlations
      • Associations with Near-Relativistic Electrons
      • Coronal Hole Related Disturbance Prediction Techniques
    • Filament Eruptions
      • Filaments and Prominences
      • Eruptive and Non-Eruptive Activity
      • Filament-Associated Coronal Mass Ejections
      • Filament-Related Disturbance Prediction Techniques
  • Auroral Activity
    • Basic Theory of the Northern/Southern Lights
    • Behavioral Characteristics of the Auroral Ovals
    • Sensitivity to Solar Disturbances
    • Affects on Satellite Health and Radio Communications
    • Mathematical Models of the Auroral Zones
    • Auroral Activity Prediction Techniques
    • Information Sources
  • Conditions Affecting Satellite Health
    • Atmospheric Drag
    • Surface Charging Anomalies
    • Deep Dialectric Charging Anomalies
    • Interplanetary Shocks
    • Magnetopause Crossings
  • Postulated Sun/Earth Climate Connections
    • Possible Long-Term Climatic Trends
      • Rainfall
      • Temperatures
      • Atmospheric Pressure
      • Storm Tracks
      • Ozone Correlations
    • Possible Short-Term Meteorological Trends
      • Pressure and Winds
      • Lightning
      • Storm Systems
      • Ozone Responses
  • Radio Propagation
    • Basic Theory (Non-Technical)
      • Characteristics and Components of Radio Signals
      • Understanding Plasmas
      • Importance of Electron Collisions
      • Appleton/Hartree Contributions
      • Signal Polarization and Coupling
      • Ionospheric Absorption
        • Deviative Absorption
        • Non-Deviative Absorption
      • Fading
      • Multipathing
      • Travelling Ionospheric Disturbances
      • Solar Related Disturbances
      • Structure of the Ionosphere
        • Ionospheric Layers
        • Importance of Sporadic-E
        • Effects of Spread-F
        • Solar-Cycle Dependencies
        • Models of the Ionosphere
          • Simple Mathematical Models
          • Numerical Maps
          • CCIR
          • URSI
          • The International Reference Ionosphere (IRI)
          • Others
        • Probing the Ionosphere
        • Probing Techniques
        • Probing Instruments
        • Sources of Ionosonde Information
    • Basic Ray-Tracing Concepts
      • Ordinary vs Extraordinary Signals
      • Becoming Familiar with Ray-Tracing Software
    • Ray-Tracing in Three-Dimensions
      • Ray-Tracing Software Considerations
      • Preparing for 3D Ray-Tracings
      • Performing 3D Ray-Tracings
      • Studying 3D Ray-Tracing Results
    • Vertical Radio Signal Propagation
      • Signal Reflection Behavior
      • Critical Frequencies
      • Ray-Tracing Vertically-Incident Signals
    • Oblique Radio Signal Propagation
      • Signal Refraction/Reflection Characteristics
      • Effects of Geomagnetic Activity
      • Effects of Solar Activity
      • Ray-Tracing Obliquely Incident Radio Signals
      • Determination of Maximum Usable Frequencies
        • Simple Empirical Methods
        • Ray-Tracing Techniques
      • Effects of Sporadic-E
      • Non-Great-Circle (NGC) Propagation
        • Responsible Conditions
        • Compensation Methods
        • Ray-Tracing Techniques to Analyze NGC Propagation
      • Chordal-Hop and Inter-Layer Ducting Propagation
        • Advantages and Disadvantages
        • Analysis using Ray-Tracing Techniques
      • Searching for and Exploiting Exotic Propagation Paths
        • Properties of Exotic Paths
        • Searching for Exotic Paths using 3D Ray-Tracing Techniques
        • Determining the Most Reliable Exotic Radio Paths
    • Ionospheric Disturbances
      • Solar Related Disturbances
        • Solar Flares and Related Coronal Mass Ejections
        • Coronal Holes and High Speed Solar Wind Streams
        • Filament Related Coronal Mass Ejections
        • Impact of Flare Related Radio Noise Bursts
      • Short Wave Fadeouts
      • Sudden Phase Anomalies
      • Sudden Frequency Deviations
      • Devastating Effects of Polar Cap Absorption
      • Disturbances and their Effects on Satellite Communications
  • Radio Propagation Prediction Methods
    • Short-Term Forecasting Techniques
    • Medium-Term Forecasting Techniques
    • Long-Term Forecasting Techniques
    • Sources of Forecasting Information
  • Applied Forecasting Techniques
    • Climatology
    • Pattern Recognition
    • Compiling Necessary Information
    • Exploiting Databases
    • Computer Related Aids
    • Studying Real-Life Examples
    • Developing Experience and "Intuition"
  • Field Experience
    • The STD SW Course presents you with some specific historic real-life scenarios. Using the information and techniques studied in this course, you are asked to develop your own space-weather and radio-propagation predictions. The actual real-life impacts are then studied and compared with your forecasts.
    • The Course presents you with several hypothetical (possible future) examples and ask you to develop your own forecasts.
  • Course Completed


Check out these books on Radio Propagation:

+ The New Shortwave Propagation Handbook (Paperback) - by George Jacobs, Theodore J. Cohen, R. B. Rose. The NEW Shortwave Progagation Handbook may well be the only book you'll need on the subject of ionospheric propagation! It is a "must read" for Radio Amateurs, Shortwave Listeners, and radio communicators of any type who need to make the most productive use of the radio spectrum, regardless of the time of day, the season of the year, or the state of the sunspot cycle. It will become your ever-present companion a the operating table as you master the art of shortwave radio progagation.

+ How Radio Signals Work (Paperback) - by Jim Sinclair. This book provides a basic understanding of the way radio signals work-without becoming bogged down with the technicalities. It covers all kinds of radio signal types--including mobile communications, short-wave, satellite, and microwave. No detailed knowledge of electronics or mathematics is required. A-Z coverage of radio signals including satellites, mobile communications, and short-wave radio. No math or electronics background necessary.

+ Introduction to RF Propagation (Hardcover) - by John S. Seybold. This book provides readers with a solid understanding of the concepts involved in the propagation of electromagnetic waves and of the commonly used modeling techniques. While many books cover RF propagation, most are geared to cellular telephone systems and, therefore, are limited in scope. This title is comprehensive-it treats the growing number of wireless applications that range well beyond the mobile telecommunications industry, including radar and satellite communications.

Data and images courtesy of IPS Australia, NOAA, NASA, SWPC, SIDC

Layout, analysis, commentary, and certain forecasts and content is
Copyright, 2015, Tomas David Hood (NW7US), all rights reserved.
No part, except for the space weather 'banners', may be copied without express permission.

Last Update: March 02, 2015