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SpaceWeather.com -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
 
Solar wind
speed: 413.0 km/sec
density: 3.6 protons/cm3
more data: ACE, DSCOVR
Updated: Today at 2348 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A5
1918 UT Nov04
24-hr: A6
0506 UT Nov04
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2300 UT
Daily Sun: 04 Nov 17
The sun is blank--no sunspots. Credit: SDO/HMI

Sunspot number: 0
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 04 Nov 2017

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 3 days
2017 total: 71 days (23%)
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 03 Nov 2017


The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 73 sfu
explanation | more data
Updated 04 Nov 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= 1
quiet
explanation | more data
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 4.2 nT
Bz: -0.6 nT south
more data: ACE, DSCOVR
Updated: Today at 2348 UT
Coronal Holes: 04 Nov 17

Solar wind flowing from this northern coronal hole could brush against Earth's magnetic field on Nov. 7th. Credit: SDO/AIA
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 Nov 04 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 Nov 04 2200 UTC
Mid-latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
ACTIVE
10 %
15 %
MINOR
01 %
05 %
SEVERE
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
ACTIVE
15 %
15 %
MINOR
15 %
25 %
SEVERE
10 %
20 %
 
Saturday, Nov. 4, 2017
What's up in space
       
 

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SOLAR SECTOR BOUNDARY CROSSING: On Nov. 6th, Earth will cross a fold in the heliospheric current sheet--a vast wavy structure in interplanetary space separating regions of opposite magnetic polarity. This is called a "solar sector boundary crossing," and it could trigger geomagnetic activity around Earth's poles. Arctic sky watchers should be alert for auroras when the crossing occurs. Free: Aurora Alerts.

A METEOR MELTS AWAY: On the night of Oct. 26th, sky watchers in Japan witnessed a fireball tearing through the belt of Orion. "It was yellow and very bright," reports Yasushi Aoshima, who captured the dramatic disintegration in a series of rapid-fire photos. Click to watch the meteor melt away:

The swirling wisps in Aoshima's photos are the meteoroid's smokey remains, stretched and twisted by high altitude winds in the upper atmosphere. "I classify this as a 'melting-away type meteor,' says Aoshima.

Another group in Japan, the SonotaCo Meteor Network, used images from multiple cameras to calculate the meteoroid's orbit. They found that it came from beyond the orbit of Mars, a random piece of rocky space debris in the Asteroid Belt.  Possibly nudged out of its orbit by the gravity of Jupiter or a collision with a neighboring meteoroid, it fell toward Earth and made a beautiful yellow fireball over Japan.

More fireballs are in the offing. Right now, Earth is passing through a broad, sparse stream of debris from Comet Encke, source of the annual Taurid meteor shower. Taurid meteor rates are typically low, only a handful per hour, but the shower compensates for that by being rich in fireballs.  Encke's gravelly debris tends to produce beautifully bright meteors like the one Aoshima recorded on Oct. 26th. The northern branch of the Taurid meteor shower peaks on Nov. 10-11.

Realtime Space Weather Photo Gallery

AURORAS MIX WITH MOONLIGHT: Some photographers worry that bright moonlight will spoil their aurora photos. "Not last night," says Chad Blakley of Abisko, Sweden. "The full Moon illuminated our snowy landscape and made a beautiful moonbow beneath the aurora borealis." The Lights over Lapland automated webcam captured the scene:

"It was a spectacular sight as the the auroras and the moonbow mirrored each other's shape almost perfectly," he says. Moonbows (lunar rainbows) form when bright moonlight bounces in and out of falling raindrops.  "It had been raining earlier in the evening, and there were still some water droplets in the air when the clouds parted to reveal the auroras," says Blakley. "It was a perfect mix!"

Realtime Aurora Photo Gallery

THIS WATCH FLEW TO SPACE ... AND KEPT ON TICKING: On Aug. 21, 2017, during the Great American Solar Eclipse, the students of Earth to Sky Calculus launched 11 space weather balloons from the path of totality. They soared into the stratosphere, photographing the shadow of the Moon more than 100,000 feet above Earth's surface. As a fundraiser, one of the balloons carried this wristwatch:

With the sun, Earth, and Moon perfectly aligned, the watch entered the space-cold shadow of the Moon … and kept on ticking! Watch the video. It survived temperatures lower than -49 C and cosmic ray dose rates more than 100 times sea level.

You can have one for $79.95. Each timepiece comes with a unique gift card showing the watch floating at the top of Earth's atmosphere and touching the shadow of the Moon. 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 Nov. 4, 2017, the network reported 9 fireballs.
(9 sporadics)

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 November 4, 2017 there were 1853 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Recent & Upcoming Earth-asteroid encounters:
Asteroid
Date(UT)
Miss Distance
Velocity (km/s)
Diameter (m)
2017 UL8
2017-Oct-30
1.2 LD
10.5
8
2017 UK8
2017-Oct-30
0.6 LD
14.1
8
2017 UL43
2017-Oct-30
14.2 LD
10.4
18
2017 UJ6
2017-Oct-30
5.5 LD
11.3
18
2017 UO43
2017-Oct-31
6.6 LD
5.7
9
2017 TZ4
2017-Oct-31
19.3 LD
13.1
96
2003 UV11
2017-Oct-31
15 LD
24.5
447
2017 UP6
2017-Oct-31
15.1 LD
11.6
22
2017 UO2
2017-Oct-31
11 LD
8.7
22
2017 UD43
2017-Nov-01
4.7 LD
8.8
7
2017 UL44
2017-Nov-03
13.3 LD
15.4
64
2017 UX42
2017-Nov-05
10.5 LD
2.6
7
2017 US7
2017-Nov-05
7.1 LD
8.8
13
2017 UJ7
2017-Nov-05
16.8 LD
13
28
2017 UJ43
2017-Nov-05
4.6 LD
7.3
10
2013 BD74
2017-Nov-06
10.6 LD
9
51
2017 TZ3
2017-Nov-09
10.3 LD
8.7
39
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
2011 YD29
2017-Dec-19
17.6 LD
7.7
20
2006 XY
2017-Dec-20
6.5 LD
5
56
2017 TS3
2017-Dec-22
18.2 LD
10.2
133
418849
2017-Dec-22
15.3 LD
17.4
257
2015 YQ1
2017-Dec-22
17.3 LD
11.1
9
2017 QL33
2017-Dec-30
13.3 LD
8.2
191
2015 RT1
2018-Jan-02
19.7 LD
9
30
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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