Solar wind
speed: 400.3 km/sec
density: 4.0 protons/cm3
more data: ACE, DSCOVR
Updated: Today at 1112 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: B2
1031 UT Oct18
24-hr: B2
1031 UT Oct18
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 1100 UT
Daily Sun: 18 Oct 17
The sun is blank again--no sunspots. . Credit: SDO/HMI

Sunspot number: 0
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 18 Oct 2017

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 2 days
2017 total: 65 days (22%)
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%)

Updated 18 Oct 2017


The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 70 sfu
explanation | more data
Updated 18 Oct 2017

Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
Credit: NOAA/Ovation
Planetary K-index
Now: Kp= 1 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 2
quiet
explanation | more data
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 3.4 nT
Bz: -0.1 nT south
more data: ACE, DSCOVR
Updated: Today at 1113 UT
Coronal Holes: 18 Oct 17

Solar wind flowing from this coronal hole should reach Earth on Oct. 20-21. Credit: NASA/SDO.
Noctilucent Clouds Latest images from NASA's AIM spacecraft show that the 2017 northern summer season for noctilucent clouds has finished.
Switch view: Europe, USA, Asia, Polar
Updated at: 09-03-2017 01:55:03
SPACE WEATHER
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2017 Oct 17 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: 2017 Oct 17 2200 UTC
Mid-latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
ACTIVE
20 %
20 %
MINOR
10 %
10 %
SEVERE
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
ACTIVE
15 %
15 %
MINOR
25 %
25 %
SEVERE
30 %
30 %
 
Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2017
What's up in space
       
 

Lights Over Lapland is excited to announce that our Customizable Aurora Adventures are available for immediate booking! Reserve your adventure of a lifetime in Abisko National Park, Sweden today!

 

DECREASING CHANCE OF MAGNETIC STORMS: Today, Oct. 18th, solar wind is blowing around Earth with less speed and pressure than previously expected. As a result, NOAA forecasters have lowered the odds of polar geomagnetic storms to only 30%. Arctic auroras might be visible anyway thanks to the velvety-dark backdrop provided by the shrinking crescent Moon. Free: Aurora Alerts.

HURRICANE + DESERT DUST = WEIRD SKIES: For the past two days, sky watchers in parts of Europe have reported strange colors in the daytime sky. "There's a red glow overhead and the sun looks like a big Orange," says Vincent Phillips, who sends this picture from Hale village near Liverpool UK:


"This is apparently due to ex-hurricane Ophelia, which dragged up tropical air and dust from the Sahara desert when it battered the western UK earlier this week," says Phillips. "The air is full of fine dust. We had several inbound flights into Liverpool Airport declare emergencies after strange smells in cockpits of aircraft yesterday."

Atmospheric optics expert Les Cowley adds his own report: "I was driving near London yesterday afternoon and I experienced the strange skies at first hand. At first the sky was yellowish orange with the sun showing through as a blurred and lurid red. But quite unlike a sunset color. Gradually the sun was fully obscured and at 3pm headlights were needed. The sky was an unearthly yellow red."

"Given that over the last few days the U.K. has had unseasonably high temperatures and southerly winds associated partly with Ophelia, I think that fine dust/sand carried from the Sahara was the culprit," says Cowley. 

Similar reports are coming in from the Netherlands, Germany, and other parts of the UK, as forest fires in the Iberian peninsula add their ash to the desert dust, intensifying the phenomenon. Browse the realtime photo gallery for sightings.

Realtime Space Weather Photo Gallery

SPOTLESS SUN SPARKS BRIGHT AURORAS: The sun just did something ironic. For a whole week, Oct. 9th - 15th, the face of the sun was utterly blank. There were no sunspots and no solar flares; NOAA classified solar activity as "very low."  At the same time, space weather was remarkably stormy. From Oct. 11th through 15th, not a single day went by without a geomagnetic storm. This is what the sky looked like outside Fairbanks, Alaska, on Oct. 12th:


"It was an all-night, all-sky display that gave me 'aurora neck,' a stiff neck from spending 10 straight hours looking up!" says Todd Salat, who took the picture. "The reflection from Olnes Pond doubled our viewing pleasure."

Similar stories poured in from Sweden, Iceland, Norway, Canada, and Finland. In the USA, Northern Lights descended as far south as Michigan, Minnesota, Wyoming, and Washington--all without a single sunspot.

What happened? This:

This is a coronal hole, a place in the sun's atmosphere where the magnetic field peels back and allows solar wind to escape. Solar wind spewing from this hole hit Earth's magnetic field on Oct. 11th. It mimicked the effect of a CME (a cloud of gas hurled toward us by an exploding sunspot), rattling our planet's magnetic field and lighting up polar regions with beautiful lights. Five days of G1- and G2-class geomagnetic storms ensued.

In Preston, England, aerospace engineer Stuart Green captured the "rattling" of Earth's magnetic field on his backyard magnetometer, buried a half-meter beneath the surface of his garden. Click on the image to see the full 5 days of geomagnetic storming:

"Passing in two main waves, solar wind flowing from the coronal hole sparked beautiful auroras around both poles and clearly disturbed our local magnetic field," he says. "The activity now appears to be subsiding ahead of the next wave heading our way in the coming days."

Coronal holes are present throughout the solar cycle, even during Solar Minimum when sunspots are scarce, and they are a key reason why space weather never stops. Stay tuned for more!

Realtime Aurora Photo Gallery

PYRAMID FLIES THROUGH SOLAR STORM: On Sept. 10, 2017, giant sunspot AR2673 exploded, producing an X8-class solar flare. The powerful blast accelerated a stream of electrons and protons toward Earth. By the time the particles arrived, this crystal pyramid was waiting for them at the top of Earth's atmosphere:

What was it doing up there? It hitched a ride onboard a space weather balloon, launched by the students of Earth to Sky Calculus to measure radiation from the flare. In addition to the pyramid (flown for fundraising), the balloon's payload carried an array of X-ray/gamma-ray detectors, cameras, temperature/pressure sensors, GPS altimeters and, of course, extra pyramids.

You can have one for $119.95. Each pyramid comes with a unique gift card showing the crystal floating at the top of Earth's atmosphere. The interior of the card tells the story of the flight and confirms that this gift has been to the edge of space and back again.

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


  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 Oct. 17, 2017, the network reported 53 fireballs.
(30 sporadics, 12 Orionids, 4 epsilon Geminids, 4 Southern Taurids, 2 October delta Aurigids, 1 Leonis Minorid)

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 October 18, 2017 there were 1847 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Recent & Upcoming Earth-asteroid encounters:
Asteroid
Date(UT)
Miss Distance
Velocity (km/s)
Diameter (m)
2017 RV1
2017-Oct-12
17.8 LD
10.9
344
2012 TC4
2017-Oct-12
0.1 LD
7.6
16
2017 TZ5
2017-Oct-12
7 LD
9.7
16
2017 TT1
2017-Oct-13
2.5 LD
10.7
13
2017 TK2
2017-Oct-13
4.9 LD
11.6
25
2017 TU5
2017-Oct-13
6.9 LD
7.7
13
2017 UE
2017-Oct-13
4.4 LD
8.4
15
2017 TU1
2017-Oct-13
5.2 LD
10.4
21
2005 TE49
2017-Oct-13
8.5 LD
11.2
16
2017 TJ4
2017-Oct-13
10.2 LD
7.2
35
2017 TV1
2017-Oct-14
5.6 LD
10.4
20
2017 UD
2017-Oct-14
3.9 LD
15.7
27
2017 UF
2017-Oct-15
1 LD
23.1
10
2017 UC
2017-Oct-15
13.3 LD
5.4
20
2013 UM9
2017-Oct-15
17 LD
7.8
39
2017 TK4
2017-Oct-15
4.2 LD
4.2
11
2017 TH5
2017-Oct-16
0.3 LD
12.1
8
2017 TU3
2017-Oct-17
8.2 LD
12
41
2017 TE5
2017-Oct-17
1.3 LD
10.9
24
2017 UA
2017-Oct-17
1.2 LD
8
7
2017 TW5
2017-Oct-17
3.1 LD
15.5
14
2017 TX5
2017-Oct-18
4.6 LD
10.2
24
2017 TD5
2017-Oct-18
11.2 LD
18.7
36
2006 TU7
2017-Oct-18
18.7 LD
13.3
148
2017 UJ
2017-Oct-19
2.8 LD
12
29
2017 TG2
2017-Oct-19
19.9 LD
19.2
168
2017 TD6
2017-Oct-19
0.5 LD
9.2
13
2017 TA6
2017-Oct-19
6.7 LD
4.4
18
2017 UG
2017-Oct-20
4.3 LD
10.6
10
2017 SY20
2017-Oct-20
19 LD
7.2
49
2017 TO2
2017-Oct-20
13.9 LD
13.7
80
2017 SH14
2017-Oct-20
15.4 LD
6.9
45
2017 TG4
2017-Oct-21
4.8 LD
11.4
51
2017 TC5
2017-Oct-21
15.6 LD
8.3
20
2017 TV5
2017-Oct-22
3.4 LD
10.7
14
171576
2017-Oct-22
5.8 LD
21.2
677
2017 TQ5
2017-Oct-22
5.5 LD
5.8
11
2017 TQ4
2017-Oct-22
11.2 LD
11
39
2017 TK6
2017-Oct-23
19.3 LD
11.7
50
2017 UH
2017-Oct-25
15.1 LD
10.9
19
2017 TL4
2017-Oct-25
14.7 LD
11.4
49
2017 TZ4
2017-Oct-31
19.3 LD
13.1
102
2003 UV11
2017-Oct-31
15 LD
24.5
447
2017 TZ3
2017-Nov-09
10.4 LD
8.7
33
444584
2017-Nov-17
8.7 LD
14.8
324
2008 WM61
2017-Dec-03
3.8 LD
4.7
16
2015 XX169
2017-Dec-14
9.7 LD
6.3
11
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

Readers, thank you for your patience while we continue to develop this new section of Spaceweather.com. We've been working to streamline our data reduction, allowing us to post results from balloon flights much more rapidly, and we have developed a new data product, shown here:

This plot displays radiation measurements not only in the stratosphere, but also at aviation altitudes. 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. These measurements are made by our usual cosmic ray payload as it passes through aviation altitudes en route to the stratosphere over California.

What is this all about? 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 13% since 2015:


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.

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.

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.

  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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