Solar wind
speed: 426.3 km/sec
density: 3.2 protons/cm3
more data: ACE, DSCOVR
Updated: Today at 1217 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A1
0707 UT Oct17
24-hr: A1
0707 UT Oct17
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 1200 UT
Daily Sun: 16 Oct 18
Decaying sunspot AR2725 is almost invisible. Solar flare activity remains very low. Credit: SDO/HMI

Sunspot number: 11
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 16 Oct 2018

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 0 days
2018 total: 165 days (57%)
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 16 Oct 2018


The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 72 sfu
explanation | more data
Updated 16 Oct 2018

Current Auroral Oval:
UPDATING NORMALLY AGAIN--HIT RELOAD
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
Credit: NOAA/Ovation
Planetary K-index
Now: Kp= 0 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 2
quiet
explanation | more data
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 3.0 nT
Bz: 3.0 nT north
more data: ACE, DSCOVR
Updated: Today at 1216 UT
Coronal Holes: 16 Oct 18

Earth is inside a stream of solar wind flowing from this coronal hole. Credit: SDO/AIA
Noctilucent Clouds The season for noctilucent clouds (NLCs) in the northern hemisphere has come to an end. Images from NASA's AIM spacecraft show no NLCs around the north pole.
Switch view: Europe, USA, Asia, Polar
Updated at: 09-03-2018 14:55:02
SPACE WEATHER
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2018 Oct 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: 2018 Oct 16 2200 UTC
Mid-latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
ACTIVE
10 %
25 %
MINOR
01 %
10 %
SEVERE
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
ACTIVE
15 %
15 %
MINOR
20 %
25 %
SEVERE
20 %
35 %
 
Wednesday, Oct. 17, 2018
What's up in space
       
 

Lights Over Lapland has a brand-new website full of exciting adventures in Abisko National Park, Sweden! Take a look at our aurora activities and book your once-in-a-lifetime trip with us today!

 

THE MOON AND MARS--TONIGHT! When the sun goes down tonight, step outside and face south. The waxing gibbous Moon is approaching Mars for a conjunction in the constellation Capricornus. Mars is distinctly red and it shines about 6x brighter than a 1st magnitude star--easy to see even beside the glaring Moon. Try to look before the sky fades to black. The pair will look extra beautiful surrounded by twilight blue. Sky maps: Oct. 17, 18.

COMING SOON, THE COMET OF THE YEAR: Astronomers are calling Comet 46P/Wirtanen the "comet of the year." Two months from now, on Dec. 16th, the kilometer-wide ball of dirty ice will come within 11.5 million km of Earth--making it one of the 10 closest-approaching comets of the Space Age. Comet 46P/Wirtanen will probably become a naked eye object for several weeks during the holidays. Here's what it looks like now:

Yasushi Aoshima of Ishikawa, Japan, took the picture using a 12-inch telescope. It shows the comet's green atmosphere which is, impressively, almost twice as wide as the planet Jupiter. The green color comes from diatomic carbon (C2)--a gaseous substance common in comet atmospheres that glows green in the near-vacuum of space.

At the moment, the integrated brightness of the comet is similar to a 10th magnitude star--that is, dim. However, forecasters expect it to brighten more than 200-fold by December. If current trends hold, 46P could ultimately reach magnitude +3, making it not a Great Comet but a very good one, visible to the unaided eye and an easy target for binoculars or small telescopes.

Comet Wirtanen passes through the inner solar system every 5.4 years. Right now it is near the orbit of Mars, and it is heading in our direction. Click on the image above to explore the comet's approach, courtesy of NASA/JPL.

Are you new to comet photography? Get Astro-imaging Tutorials from award-winning astrophotographer Damian Peach.

More resources: sky map; ephemeris; 3D orbit; light curve.

Realtime Comet Photo Gallery

THE PLUTO PENDANT: When NASA's New Horizons spacecraft flew past Pluto in the summer of 2015, planetary scientists were amazed by they saw: towering mountains, methane dunes, deep canyons. Most amazing of all was the giant heart in Pluto's southern hemisphere. That heart, a.k.a. "Tombaugh Regio", is featured on the Pluto Pendant:

On Oct 11th the students of Earth to Sky Calculus launched this pendant to the edge of space using a high altitude cosmic ray balloon. It reached an altitude of 35.6 km (116,798 feet) above Earth's surface, touching space like Pluto itself.

You can have it for $119.95. The students are selling these pendants support their cosmic ray ballooning program. And if you buy it this week, you may have a "Pluto is a Planet" Space Pendant free of charge.

Each pendant comes with a unique gift card showing the item at the edge of space and telling the story of its flight. Proceeds support Earth to Sky Calculus and hands-on STEM research.

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


Realtime Space Weather 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 Oct. 16, 2018, the network reported 18 fireballs.
(15 sporadics, 2 Southern Taurids, 1 October Ursae Majorid)

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 17, 2018 there were 1936 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Recent & Upcoming Earth-asteroid encounters:
Asteroid
Date(UT)
Miss Distance
Velocity (km/s)
Diameter (m)
2018 TS4
2018-Oct-11
5.2 LD
2.3
12
2018 TR4
2018-Oct-11
6.9 LD
11
36
2018 TD2
2018-Oct-12
12.9 LD
11.2
18
2018 TQ3
2018-Oct-12
10.5 LD
7.4
14
2018 TB5
2018-Oct-13
3.1 LD
16.3
17
2018 TC5
2018-Oct-13
12.6 LD
7.6
20
2018 TU4
2018-Oct-15
14.2 LD
11
29
2018 SL3
2018-Oct-15
9.1 LD
13.4
34
2018 TS1
2018-Oct-15
6.6 LD
10.9
27
2018 TZ2
2018-Oct-16
9.1 LD
16.7
41
2014 US7
2018-Oct-17
3.2 LD
8.7
19
2013 UG1
2018-Oct-18
10.4 LD
13.4
123
2016 GC221
2018-Oct-18
8.7 LD
14.4
39
2018 TT5
2018-Oct-24
15.9 LD
10.2
29
475534
2018-Oct-29
7.5 LD
18.1
204
2002 VE68
2018-Nov-04
14.7 LD
8.6
282
2018 TF3
2018-Nov-05
7.8 LD
20.6
310
2010 VQ
2018-Nov-07
15.6 LD
3.8
10
2009 WB105
2018-Nov-25
15.2 LD
18.9
71
2008 WD14
2018-Nov-27
7.4 LD
9.3
93
2001 WO15
2018-Nov-28
13.6 LD
11.7
107
2013 VX4
2018-Dec-09
4.1 LD
6.6
65
2015 XX169
2018-Dec-13
17 LD
5.8
12
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
Spaceweather.com welcomes two supporters of science communication: SEO Phoenix AZ and CRAS, the Conservatory of Recording Arts and Sciences.
   
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