Solar wind
speed: 390.3 km/sec
density: 8.5 protons/cm3
more data: ACE, DSCOVR
Updated: Today at 1043 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A1
0413 UT Jan17
24-hr: A1
0413 UT Jan17
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 1000 UT
Daily Sun: 17 Jan 19
The sun is blank--no sunspots. Credit: SDO/HMI

Sunspot number: 0
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 17 Jan 2019

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 10 days
2019 total: 10 days (59%)
2018 total: 221 days (61%)
2017 total: 104 days (28%)
2016 total: 32 days (9%)
2015 total: 0 days (0%)
2014 total: 1 day (<1%)
2013 total: 0 days (0%)
2012 total: 0 days (0%)
2011 total: 2 days (<1%)
2010 total: 51 days (14%)
2009 total: 260 days (71%)
2008 total: 268 days (73%)
2007 total: 152 days (42%)
2006 total: 70 days (19%)

Updated 17 Jan 2019


Thermosphere Climate Index
today: 3.19
x1010 W Cold
Max: 49.4
x1010 W Hot (10/1957)
Min: 2.05
x1010 W Cold (02/2009)
explanation | more data
Updated 16 Jan 2019

The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 70 sfu
explanation | more data
Updated 17 Jan 2019

Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
Credit: NOAA/Ovation
Planetary K-index
Now: Kp= quiet
24-hr max: Kp=
quiet
explanation | more data
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 9.4 nT
Bz: 7.1 nT north
more data: ACE, DSCOVR
Updated: Today at 1041 UT
Coronal Holes: 17 Jan 19

Solar wind flowing from this equatorial coronal hole should hit Earth's magnetic field, squarely, on Jan. 23rd. Credit: SDO/AIA
Noctilucent Clouds The southern season for noctilucent clouds (NLCs) has begun! NASA's AIM spacecraft is detecting electric blue clouds at the edge of space over Antarctica.
Switch view: Europe, USA, Asia, Polar
Updated at:
SPACE WEATHER
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2019 Jan 16 2200 UTC
FLARE
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
CLASS M
01 %
01 %
CLASS X
01 %
01 %
Geomagnetic Storms:
Probabilities for significant disturbances in Earth's magnetic field are given for three activity levels: active, minor storm, severe storm
Updated at: 2019 Jan 16 2200 UTC
Mid-latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
ACTIVE
10 %
10 %
MINOR
05 %
01 %
SEVERE
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
ACTIVE
15 %
15 %
MINOR
20 %
20 %
SEVERE
20 %
10 %
 
Thursday, Jan. 17, 2019
What's up in space
       
 

Solar minimum is here - but even now strangely beautiful auroras are dancing around the poles. Deep inside the Arctic Circle, the expert guides of Aurora Holidays in Utsjoki, Finland, can help you chase them. Book now!

 

A HOLE IN THE SUN'S ATMOSPHERE: Minor geomagnetic storms are possible on Jan. 23rd and 24th when a stream of solar wind is expected to hit Earth's magnetic field. The gaseous material is flowing from an equatorial hole in the sun's atmosphere. Aurora chasers can get an instant text alert when the storm begins. Free: SWx Newsletter

EARTH'S SHIFTING MAGNETIC POLES ARE CONFUSING YOUR PHONE: Pick up your cell phone and look at it. That rectangular marvel of modern technology contains thousands of lines of code. Among them is the World Magnetic Model (WMM)–a program that helps your phone navigate. And it's in a bit of trouble. Researchers have announced that the WMM needs an emergency update because Earth's magnetic field is changing.

Savvy backcountry hikers have long known that compass needles don't really point north. The magnetic north pole is displaced hundreds of miles from the true north pole and, to make matters worse, it wanders unpredictably from year to year. To find true north in the continental USA, you have to correct compass directions by as much as 20 degrees using a special "declination table."

The World Magnetic Model is a computer program that makes this correction for you. It improves the navigation of devices ranging from nuclear submarines to common smartphones.

"The WMM is the standard magnetic model used for navigation by organizations such as NATO, the Ministry of Defence, and the US Department of Defense, and also by smartphone operating systems such as Android and iOS," explains Will Brown of the British Geological Survey's Geomagnetism Team, which produces the model in collaboration with NOAA of the USA.

"When you open your smartphone's map app, you may see an arrow pointing which way you're facing, and there's something quite clever going on underneath," he continues. "Your phone contains a magnetometer that is measuring the Earth's magnetic field. In order to make sense of this information, Android and iOS operating systems use the WMM to correct the measurements to true north."

Normally the World Magnetic Model is updated every 5 years. For decades that's been often enough to track natural changes in our planet's magnetism caused by fluctuations in Earth's molten core. But suddenly things are changing faster than before.


Annual rate of change of declination for 2015.0 to 2020.0 from the World Magnetic Model (WMM2015).

"Since late 2014, Earth's core field has varied in an unpredicted, and currently unpredictable, manner [including a sudden change in declinaton called a 'geomagnetic jerk' in 2014/2015]," says Brown. "The aim of the WMM is to be globally accurate within 1 degree of declination, but we were going to exceed that limit in only 3 years." That's why, for the first time, they are issuing an update to the WMM before the usual 5 year mark in 2020.

The new model is based data from a global network of 160 surface observatories and satellites in low-Earth orbit such as ESA's Swarm mission. It was supposed to be released on Jan. 15th but has been delayed until Jan. 30th because of the partial shutdown of the US government.

A sharable permalink to this story may be found here.

Realtime Space Weather Photo Gallery

FULL MOON VALENTINE'S PENDANT: Poets, lovers, and artists have long known this simple truth: Nothing is more romantic than a full Moon. Now you can give the full Moon as a Valentine's Gift--the full Moon space pendant, that is. This one flew to the stratosphere on Dec. 26, 2018, onboard an Earth to Sky Calculus cosmic ray balloon:

You can have it for $99.95. The students are selling these spherical glass pendants to support their cosmic ray ballooning program. Each one comes with a Valentine's card showing the pendant in flight and telling the story of its journey to the edge of space and back again.

Far Out Gifts: Earth to Sky Store
All sales support hands-on STEM education

WINTER SPRITES: Summer is the season for sprites. The strange red forms shoot up from the tops of intense thunderstorms, tapping the heat energy of the atmosphere to create exotic upward-directed lightning.  So it came as a bit of a surprise on the night of Jan. 14th when Daniel Ščerba of the Czech republic photographed sprites in the dead of winter:

"These sprites were shooting up over a thunderstorm in the Adriatic Sea more than 700 km from my location," says Ščerba. In this map of weather radar data, the red arrow points from Ščerba's observatory to the storm. "In total, I photographed 16 sprites--my first of 2019."

What makes sprites appear in winter? Some researchers believe sprites are linked to cosmic rays: subatomic particles from deep space striking the top of Earth's atmosphere produce secondary electrons that, in turn, provide the spark that triggers sprites. Increasing levels of cosmic rays during Solar Minimum might explain why the red forms are spilling over into the "off-season." Diagram: How to Look for Sprites

Realtime Sprite Photo Gallery


Realtime Aurora Photo Gallery


  All Sky Fireball Network
Every night, a network of NASA all-sky cameras scans the skies above the United States for meteoritic fireballs. Automated software maintained by NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office calculates their orbits, velocity, penetration depth in Earth's atmosphere and many other characteristics. Daily results are presented here on Spaceweather.com.

On Jan. 16, 2019, the network reported 12 fireballs.
(11 sporadics, 1 Canum Venaticid)

In this diagram of the inner solar system, all of the fireball orbits intersect at a single point--Earth. The orbits are color-coded by velocity, from slow (red) to fast (blue). [Larger image] [movies]

  Near Earth Asteroids
Potentially Hazardous Asteroids (PHAs) are space rocks larger than approximately 100m that can come closer to Earth than 0.05 AU. None of the known PHAs is on a collision course with our planet, although astronomers are finding new ones all the time.
On January 17, 2019 there were 1947 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Recent & Upcoming Earth-asteroid encounters:
Asteroid
Date(UT)
Miss Distance
Velocity (km/s)
Diameter (m)
2018 YU2
2019-Jan-12
5.6 LD
4.6
19
2019 AE9
2019-Jan-12
0.3 LD
19.2
13
2019 AX2
2019-Jan-12
17.6 LD
22.1
43
2019 AK3
2019-Jan-12
4.9 LD
10.7
14
2019 AC9
2019-Jan-12
4.1 LD
10.1
26
2019 AK12
2019-Jan-13
2 LD
15.3
11
2019 AR2
2019-Jan-13
7.6 LD
4.8
49
2019 AG3
2019-Jan-14
12.9 LD
14.6
85
2019 AS6
2019-Jan-14
12.2 LD
7.2
20
2019 AU6
2019-Jan-14
2.6 LD
8.9
17
2018 XN
2019-Jan-14
11.9 LD
5.6
59
2019 AT6
2019-Jan-15
8.1 LD
5.1
10
2019 AM8
2019-Jan-15
8.6 LD
10.9
15
2019 AG7
2019-Jan-15
3.9 LD
6.8
30
2019 AU9
2019-Jan-16
7.7 LD
5.1
16
2019 AM10
2019-Jan-16
17.5 LD
3.6
36
2019 AR8
2019-Jan-16
9.7 LD
8.9
27
2019 AC3
2019-Jan-17
10.7 LD
4.4
12
2019 AB5
2019-Jan-19
7.5 LD
6.6
28
2019 AZ8
2019-Jan-20
13.7 LD
10
25
2019 AO8
2019-Jan-20
10.4 LD
11.3
26
2019 AX8
2019-Jan-22
18.1 LD
16.2
38
2019 AS11
2019-Jan-23
7 LD
4.3
16
2019 AN12
2019-Jan-25
9.2 LD
20.3
29
2019 AG11
2019-Jan-25
8.7 LD
7.5
20
2019 AA10
2019-Jan-26
5.6 LD
9.8
28
2019 AP11
2019-Jan-28
10.3 LD
7.8
31
2019 AN11
2019-Jan-29
12.7 LD
8.1
31
2013 CW32
2019-Jan-29
13.9 LD
16.4
148
2019 AV2
2019-Feb-01
17.6 LD
13
204
2013 RV9
2019-Feb-06
17.9 LD
5.9
68
2017 PV25
2019-Feb-12
7.3 LD
6.1
43
455176
2019-Feb-20
19.2 LD
26.5
269
2016 CO246
2019-Feb-22
15.8 LD
5.5
23
2018 DE1
2019-Feb-27
19.8 LD
6.5
28
2016 FU12
2019-Feb-27
15.4 LD
5.2
15
2015 EG
2019-Mar-04
1.2 LD
9.6
26
2013 EG68
2019-Mar-13
19.3 LD
17
37
2012 VZ19
2019-Mar-13
7.7 LD
8
27
Notes: LD means "Lunar Distance." 1 LD = 384,401 km, the distance between Earth and the Moon. 1 LD also equals 0.00256 AU. MAG is the visual magnitude of the asteroid on the date of closest approach.
  Cosmic Rays in the Atmosphere

SOMETHING NEW! We have developed a new predictive model of aviation radiation. It's called E-RAD--short for Empirical RADiation model. We are constantly flying radiation sensors onboard airplanes over the US and and around the world, so far collecting more than 22,000 gps-tagged radiation measurements. Using this unique dataset, we can predict the dosage on any flight over the USA with an error no worse than 15%.

E-RAD lets us do something new: Every day we monitor approximately 1400 flights criss-crossing the 10 busiest routes in the continental USA. Typically, this includes more than 80,000 passengers per day. E-RAD calculates the radiation exposure for every single flight.

The Hot Flights Table is a daily summary of these calculations. It shows the 5 charter flights with the highest dose rates; the 5 commercial flights with the highest dose rates; 5 commercial flights with near-average dose rates; and the 5 commercial flights with the lowest dose rates. Passengers typically experience dose rates that are 20 to 70 times higher than natural radiation at sea level.

To measure radiation on airplanes, we use the same sensors we fly to the stratosphere onboard Earth to Sky Calculus cosmic ray balloons: neutron bubble chambers and X-ray/gamma-ray Geiger tubes sensitive to energies between 10 keV and 20 MeV. These energies span the range of medical X-ray machines and airport security scanners.

Column definitions: (1) The flight number; (2) The maximum dose rate during the flight, expressed in units of natural radiation at sea level; (3) The maximum altitude of the plane in feet above sea level; (4) Departure city; (5) Arrival city; (6) Duration of the flight.

SPACE WEATHER BALLOON DATA: Approximately once a week, Spaceweather.com and the students of Earth to Sky Calculus fly space weather balloons to the stratosphere over California. These balloons are equipped with radiation sensors that detect cosmic rays, a surprisingly "down to Earth" form of space weather. Cosmic rays can seed clouds, trigger lightning, and penetrate commercial airplanes. Furthermore, there are studies ( #1, #2, #3, #4) linking cosmic rays with cardiac arrhythmias and sudden cardiac death in the general population. Our latest measurements show that cosmic rays are intensifying, with an increase of more than 18% since 2015:

The data points in the graph above correspond to the peak of the Reneger-Pfotzer maximum, which lies about 67,000 feet above central California. When cosmic rays crash into Earth's atmosphere, they produce a spray of secondary particles that is most intense at the entrance to the stratosphere. Physicists Eric Reneger and Georg Pfotzer discovered the maximum using balloons in the 1930s and it is what we are measuring today.

En route to the stratosphere, our sensors also pass through aviation altitudes:

In this plot, dose rates are expessed as multiples of sea level. For instance, we see that boarding a plane that flies at 25,000 feet exposes passengers to dose rates ~10x higher than sea level. At 40,000 feet, the multiplier is closer to 50x.

The radiation sensors onboard our helium balloons detect X-rays and gamma-rays in the energy range 10 keV to 20 MeV. These energies span the range of medical X-ray machines and airport security scanners.

Why are cosmic rays intensifying? The main reason is the sun. Solar storm clouds such as coronal mass ejections (CMEs) sweep aside cosmic rays when they pass by Earth. During Solar Maximum, CMEs are abundant and cosmic rays are held at bay. Now, however, the solar cycle is swinging toward Solar Minimum, allowing cosmic rays to return. Another reason could be the weakening of Earth's magnetic field, which helps protect us from deep-space radiation.

  Essential web links
NOAA Space Weather Prediction Center
  The official U.S. government space weather bureau
Atmospheric Optics
  The first place to look for information about sundogs, pillars, rainbows and related phenomena.
Solar Dynamics Observatory
  Researchers call it a "Hubble for the sun." SDO is the most advanced solar observatory ever.
STEREO
  3D views of the sun from NASA's Solar and Terrestrial Relations Observatory
Solar and Heliospheric Observatory
  Realtime and archival images of the Sun from SOHO.
Daily Sunspot Summaries
  from the NOAA Space Environment Center
NOAA 27-Day Space Weather Forecasts
  fun to read, but should be taken with a grain of salt! Forecasts looking ahead more than a few days are often wrong.
Aurora 30 min forecast
  from the NOAA Space Environment Center
Heliophysics
  the underlying science of space weather
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