Solar wind
speed: 734.8 km/sec
density: 7.3 protons/cm3
more data: ACE, DSCOVR
Updated: Today at 1341 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: B1
1300 UT Apr23
24-hr: B3
0306 UT Apr23
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 1300 UT
Daily Sun: 23 Apr 17
Sunspot AR2653 is an old friend. One solar rotation ago it crossed the face of the sun as "AR2645." The formerly-large sunspot has decayed substantially during its two-week trip around the farside of the sun. Credit: SDO/HMI

Sunspot number: 29
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 23 Apr 2017

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 0 days
2017 total: 30 days (26%)
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 23 Apr 2017


The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 84 sfu
explanation | more data
Updated 23 Apr 2017

Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
Credit: NOAA/Ovation
Planetary K-index
Now: Kp= 5 storm
24-hr max: Kp= 6
storm
explanation | more data
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 5.8 nT
Bz: 4.6 nT north
more data: ACE, DSCOVR
Updated: Today at 1339 UT
Coronal Holes: 23 Apr 17

Solar wind flowing from this coronal hole could reach Earth as early as April 23rd, although April 24th is more likely. Credit: NASA/SDO.
Noctilucent Clouds The southern season for noctilucent clouds began on Nov. 17, 2016. Come back to this spot every day to see the "daily daisy" from NASA's AIM spacecraft, which is monitoring the dance of electric-blue around the Antarctic Circle.
Switch view: Ross Ice Shelf, Antarctic Peninsula, East Antarctica, Polar
Updated at: 02-24-2017 17:55:02
SPACE WEATHER
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2017 Apr 22 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 Apr 22 2200 UTC
Mid-latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
ACTIVE
30 %
40 %
MINOR
45 %
30 %
SEVERE
15 %
05 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
ACTIVE
05 %
05 %
MINOR
15 %
20 %
SEVERE
80 %
65 %
 
Sunday, Apr. 23, 2017
What's up in space
       
 

Looking for a far-out Mother's Day gift? Find something truly out of this world in the Earth to Sky Store. Space roses, Cosmic Reindeer, Arctic space pendants, and more!

 

LYRID METEOR SHOWER: Earth is entering a stream of debris from Comet Thatcher, source of the annual Lyrid meteor shower. Tonight and tomorrow, dark sky observers could see 10 to 20 shooting stars per hour. The best time to look is during the hours before dawn when the constellation Lyra is high in the sky. [sky map]

SURPRISE! EARTH DAY AURORA STORM: Last night, Northern Lights descended into the United States as far south as Michigan, Minnesota, and Washington, kicking off an unexpected display of bright auroras for Earth Day. Both ends of our planet started to glow as the magnetic storms intensified. Cindy Ballantyne sends this picture from the Otago Peninsula in New Zealand:

What happened? A bright CME that left the sun on April 19th was supposed to miss Earth. Instead, it hit, delivering a glancing blow that surprised forecasters.

The show's not over. G1 and G2-class geomagnetic storms are underway on April 22nd as Earth moves through the CME's magnetized wake.  High-latitude sky watchers should remain alert for midnight auroras on April 22-23. Free: Aurora Alerts

Realtime Aurora Photo Gallery

THESE PENDANTS HAVE TOUCHED SPACE: These pendants have touched space--and returned to Earth in time for Mother's Day. On April 15, 2017, the students of Earth to Sky Calculus flew a payload-full of heart-shaped Venus pendants to the stratosphere onboard a high-altitude helium balloon. Here's one, 111,550 feet above the Sierras of central California:

These blue jewels make great Mother's Day gifts--and you have have one for $99.95. Each glittering pendant comes with a greeting card showing the jewelry in flight and telling the story of its journey to the stratosphere and back again.

More far-out Mother's Day gifts may be found in the Earth to Sky Store. All proceeds support atmospheric radiation monitoring and hands-on STEM education.

POTENT CORONAL HOLE TURNS TOWARD EARTH: A large hole in the sun's atmosphere is turning toward Earth, and it is spewing a stream of fast-moving solar wind toward our planet. NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory photographed the giant fissure on April 21st:

This is a "coronal hole" (CH) -- a vast region where the sun's magnetic field opens up and allows solar wind to escape. Gaseous material flowing from this coronal hole is expected to reach our planet on April 23rd or 24th and could spark moderately-strong G2-class geomagnetic storms. NOAA forecasters say the odds of a magnetic storm is 75%.

We've seen this coronal hole before. On March 27th it lashed Earth's magnetic field with a fast-moving stream that ignited intense auroras around both of Earth's poles. The coronal hole is potent because it is spewing solar wind threaded with "negative polarity" magnetic fields. Such fields do a good job connecting to Earth's magnetosphere and energizing geomagnetic storms. Free: Aurora Alerts

Realtime Space Weather Photo Gallery


Realtime Comet 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 Apr. 22, 2017, the network reported 37 fireballs.
(24 sporadics, 13 April Lyrids)

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 April 23, 2017 there were 1798 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Recent & Upcoming Earth-asteroid encounters:
Asteroid
Date(UT)
Miss Distance
Velocity (km/s)
Diameter (m)
2017 GO4
2017-Apr-15
13.8 LD
6
34
2014 UR
2017-Apr-19
18.8 LD
4.4
17
2014 JO25
2017-Apr-19
4.6 LD
33.6
852
2017 GL4
2017-Apr-20
17.5 LD
7.4
22
2017 GM4
2017-Apr-20
13.1 LD
16.6
143
2017 FH101
2017-Apr-24
18.8 LD
9.9
103
2017 FE157
2017-Apr-29
18.6 LD
8.6
64
2015 VD1
2017-May-07
18.2 LD
10.5
34
2012 EC
2017-May-16
19.5 LD
4.5
74
2017 CS
2017-May-29
8 LD
9.1
468
418094
2017-Jun-01
8 LD
23.2
490
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 12% 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
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NOAA 27-Day Space Weather Forecasts
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Aurora 30 min forecast
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