Even though weather as we know it fades away 10 to 15 miles above the ground, dramatic changes
still occur in the atmosphere all the way into the reaches of space. Charged particles from the
sun produce beautiful auroras when they interact with the earth's magnetic field and the thin
outer regions of the atmosphere. Strong outbursts of radiation from the sun are linked to the 11-year
sunspot cycle, and can create unsafe conditions for astronauts and satellites.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is the parent agency of the National
Weather Service, and also the Space Environment Center (SEC). The SEC forecasts environmental conditions for the extreme upper atmosphere and the lower regions of space.
Space Weather Information
Data provided by the Space Environment Center and SOHO
Auroras (Northern Lights)
This plot shows the current extent and position of the northern auroral oval, extrapolated from measurements taken during the most recent polar pass of the NOAA POES satellite. To see the auroras from the Carolinas, look for the activity level (on left margin of image) to be 9 or greater, and for the brighter, more active shading to extend down into the Eastern US.
The weather isn't the only interesting thing to watch for in the sky. Have you ever noticed what appears to be a star slowly moving across the sky during the evening? You may have actually seen an orbiting satellite hundreds of miles away. Go to this NASA page to see if any satellites will be visible from your backyard soon.