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There are currently an unprecedented number of scientific instruments watching the sun, Earth, and space in-between for signs of space weather. In space and on the ground, these instruments are improving our ability to forecast space weather.  
  The Space Weather Forecast Center at the Space Environment Center (SEC/NOAA) in Boulder, Colorado. (Photo courtesy of SEC/NOAA.)

Today's current solar and auroral images
Todays space weather forecast (from SEC/NOAA)


About Space Weather Forecasting

The official national space weather forecast center is the Space Environment Center (SEC/NOAA). Located in Boulder, Colorado, SEC's Space Weather Operations (SWO) issues space weather forecasts and alerts are issued by Space Weather Operations.

The SWO receives space weather data from many different satellites and ground-based stations around the world. Forecasters track sunspots, map coronal holes and provide a detailed description of all active regions visible on the solar disk. (Illustration courtesy of SEC/NOAA.)

  The Sun in H-alpha.
The face of the Sun, as seen here in Hydrogen-alpha wavelengths, is far more violent than most people suppose. Hydrogen-alpha is an absorption line of neutral hydrogen in the red part of the visible spectrum. It is used to characterize solar flares, filaments, prominences, and the fine structure of active regions.

  The Sun in white light, showing sunspots..
Sunspot Groups, like those seen as dark areas in white-light images of the Sun, are also responsible for X-ray emissions as shown in the figure. These are active regions where hot, dense plasmas are energized. They are also associated with regions of oppositely directed magnetic fields.

  The Sun in X-ray, from the Yohkoh spacecraft..
X-ray flares are classified as C (low intensity), M (moderate intensity), and X (high intensity). Because solar flares and coronal mass ejections can cause magnetic storms in Earth's magnetosphere, SESC also reports on geospace conditions and the likelyhood of a magnetic storm.

Forecasters in the SESC also monitor the near-Earth space environment. Solar flares produce vast amounts of X-rays and energetic protons which can be detected by NOAA satellites orbiting at geosynchronous altitudes. Energetic particles from the Sun and energized plasma in Earth's radiation belt environment can cause damage to satellites.



  The Space Weather Center is brought to you by the Space Science Institute as part of the National Space Weather Program. Funding is provided by NASA and the National Science Foundation.  

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