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SpaceWeather.com -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
 
Solar wind
speed: 575.0 km/sec
density: 15.2 protons/cm3
more data: ACE, DSCOVR
Updated: Today at 2353 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: M1
1930 UT Sep06
24-hr: X9
1202 UT Sep06
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2300 UT
Daily Sun: 06 Sep 17
Sunspot AR2673 has a "beta-gamma-delta" magnetic field that harbors energy for X-class solar flares. Credit: SDO/HMI

Sunspot number: 122
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 06 Sep 2017

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 0 days
2017 total: 56 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 06 Sep 2017


The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 121 sfu
explanation | more data
Updated 06 Sep 2017

Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
Credit: NOAA/Ovation
Planetary K-index
Now: Kp= 0 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 3
quiet
explanation | more data
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 14.6 nT
Bz: 12.4 nT north
more data: ACE, DSCOVR
Updated: Today at 2352 UT
Coronal Holes: 06 Sep 17

There are no large coronal holes on the Earthside of the sun. 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 Sep 05 2200 UTC
FLARE
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
CLASS M
75 %
75 %
CLASS X
25 %
25 %
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 Sep 05 2200 UTC
Mid-latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
ACTIVE
15 %
15 %
MINOR
40 %
35 %
SEVERE
45 %
50 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
ACTIVE
01 %
15 %
MINOR
10 %
35 %
SEVERE
90 %
45 %
 
Wednesday, Sep. 6, 2017
What's up in space
       
 

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GEOMAGNETIC STORM WATCH (G3-CLASS): A CME hurled toward Earth by sunspot AR2673 on Sept.4th is due to arrive later today. NOAA forecasters say the CME's impact could spark moderately-strong G2-class geomagnetic storms with isolated periods of strong G3-class storming on Sept. 6th and 7th. High-latitude sky watchers should be alert for auroras in bright moonlight. Free: Aurora Alerts

MAJOR X-CLASS SOLAR FLARE: On Sept. 6th at 1202 UT, sunspot AR2673 unleashed a major X9.3-class solar flare--the strongest solar flare in more than a decade. X-rays and UV radiation from the blast ionized the top of Earth's atmosphere, causing a strong shortwave radio blackout over Europe, Africa and the Atlantic Ocean: blackout map.


Above: The extreme UV flash from today's X9-class flare. Credit: Solar Dynamics Observatory

The explosion also produced a CME, shown here in a movie from NASA's STEREO-A spacecraft. (The fast moving star-like object in the STEREO-A movie is the planet Mercury.) NOAA analysts are still modeling the trajectory of the CME to determine whether or not it is Earth-directed.

Many readers are asking about the historic context of this event. How epic is it? Answer: This is a decade-class flare. A list of the most powerful solar flares recorded since 1976 ranks today's flare at #14, tied with a similar explosion in 1990. Compared to the iconic Carrington Event of 1859, or even the more recent Halloween storms of 2003, this event is relatively mild. Modern power grids, telecommunications, and other sun sensitive technologies should weather the storm with little difficulty.

On the other hand, sky watchers could see some fantastic auroras before the week is over. And ham radio operators will surely be noticing strange propagation effects as the sun exerts its influence on our planet's ionosphere.Stay tuned for updates.

Realtime Space Weather Photo Gallery

ONE. BIG. SUNSPOT. The source of today's major flare is huge sunspot AR2673, shown here in a Sept. 5th photo taken by amateur astronomer Philippe Tosi of Nîmes, France:

How big is AR2673? An image of Earth has been inserted for scale. The largest of AR2673's dark cores are as wide as our entire planet, and they are surrounded by dozens of smaller cores as big as continents. Amateur astronomers with safely-filtered solar telescopes will have no trouble seeing this behemoth.

Overarching the complex collection of spots is a tangled magnetic canopy that harbors energy for strong solar flares. NOAA forecasters estimate a 75% chance of M-flares and a 25% chance of X-flares on Sept. 6th. Stay tuned for more explosions... Free: Solar Flare Alerts

Realtime Aurora Photo Gallery

ROSE QUARTZ CRYSTAL ECLIPSE PENDANTS: On Aug. 21st during the Great American Solar Eclipse, the students of Earth to Sky Calculus launched 11 space weather balloons from the path of totality. They aimed to photograph the Moon's shadow from the stratosphere--and they succeeded. As a fundraiser, some of the balloons carried jewelry. Here is a rose quartz crystal pendant entering the Moon's shadow more than 90,000 feet above the Malheur National Forest in eastern Oregon:

During the 2.5 hour flight, the pendants were wrapped in the Moon's shadow for more than two minutes, experiencing a spooky darkness colder than -50 C.

You can have one for $149.95. Each crystal pendant comes with a unique gift card showing the jewelry passing through the Moon's shadow and 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


Solar Eclipse 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 Sep. 6, 2017, the network reported 27 fireballs.
(26 sporadics, 1 alpha Aurigid)

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 September 6, 2017 there were 1803 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Recent & Upcoming Earth-asteroid encounters:
Asteroid
Date(UT)
Miss Distance
Velocity (km/s)
Diameter (m)
3122
2017-Sep-01
18.5 LD
13.5
5376
2017 QT17
2017-Sep-01
17.3 LD
10
55
2017 QG18
2017-Sep-01
4.4 LD
6.6
13
2017 QV32
2017-Sep-02
12 LD
11
21
2017 QR32
2017-Sep-02
2.8 LD
18
17
2017 QB35
2017-Sep-03
0.9 LD
4.1
5
2017 RB
2017-Sep-06
3.8 LD
5.2
9
2017 OP68
2017-Sep-10
20 LD
11.7
287
2017 QK18
2017-Sep-11
14.8 LD
7.8
45
2014 RC
2017-Sep-11
15.1 LD
8.9
16
2017 PR25
2017-Sep-23
17.9 LD
13.5
241
1989 VB
2017-Sep-29
7.9 LD
6.3
408
2012 TC4
2017-Oct-12
0.1 LD
7.6
16
2005 TE49
2017-Oct-13
8.5 LD
11.2
16
2013 UM9
2017-Oct-15
17 LD
7.8
39
2006 TU7
2017-Oct-18
18.7 LD
13.3
148
171576
2017-Oct-22
5.8 LD
21.2
677
2003 UV11
2017-Oct-31
15 LD
24.5
447
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
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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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