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SpaceWeather.com -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
 
Solar wind
speed: 669.3 km/sec
density: 4.4 protons/cm3
more data: ACE, DSCOVR
Updated: Today at 2348 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A5
1821 UT Oct14
24-hr: A5
1821 UT Oct14
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2300 UT
Daily Sun: 14 Oct 17
The sun is blank--no sunspots--for the 6th day in a row. Credit: SDO/HMI

Sunspot number: 0
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 13 Oct 2017

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 6 days
2017 total: 62 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 14 Oct 2017


The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 70 sfu
explanation | more data
Updated 14 Oct 2017

Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
Credit: NOAA/Ovation
Planetary K-index
Now: Kp= 3 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 5
storm
explanation | more data
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 4.9 nT
Bz: -4.7 nT south
more data: ACE, DSCOVR
Updated: Today at 2348 UT
Coronal Holes: 14 Oct 17

Earth is inside a stream of solar wind flowing from the indicated coronal hole. 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 14 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 14 2200 UTC
Mid-latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
ACTIVE
30 %
25 %
MINOR
15 %
10 %
SEVERE
05 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
ACTIVE
10 %
15 %
MINOR
25 %
25 %
SEVERE
45 %
35 %
 
Saturday, Oct. 14, 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!

 

GEOMAGNETIC STORMS CONTINUE: For the 5th day in a row, Earth is passing through a stream of high-speed solar wind. Forecasters expected the wind to slacken by now, but it is still blowing faster than 600 km/s--a pleasant surprise for aurora watchers. NOAA says there is a 75% chance of G1-class geomagnetic storms on Oct. 14th. Free: Aurora Alerts.

AURORAS IN THE USA: Friday the 13th was a lucky day ... for auroras. A high-speed solar wind stream sparked moderately-strong G2-class geomagnetic storms, pushing Northern Lights across the Canadian border into at least half a dozen US states. Thomas J. Spence sends this picture from Schroeder, Minnesota:


"Friday the 13th auroras! Just after sunset, auroras were visible to the naked eye," says Spence. "After a sweet pass from the international Space Station in the west, I turned to the north to see the luminous arc rising. It exploded into color and pillars for a few brief minutes."

So far, we have received photos of the US display from Michigan, Wisconsin, Washington, and Minnesota. Monitor the real-time photo gallery for more sightings. Free: Aurora Alerts

Realtime Aurora Photo Gallery

A NEW THREAT TO THE OZONE LAYER: High above Earth, more than 20 miles above sea level, a diaphanous layer of ozone surrounds our planet, absorbing energetic ultraviolet rays from the sun. It is, essentially, sunscreen for planet Earth. Without the ozone layer, we would be bathed in dangerous radiation on a daily basis. 

For more than 30 years, the Montreal Protocol has regulated ozone-destroying chemicals, allowing Earth's ozone holes to heal and shrink. But there's trouble on the horizon. An international team of researchers led by David Oram of the University of East Anglia has found an unexpected, growing danger to the ozone layer from substances not regulated by the treaty.


Above: The Antarctic ozone hole in Sept. 2016. [more]

The danger comes from a class of chemicals known as "chlorocarbons." Dichloromethane is an example. It is used in paint stripping, agricultural fumigation, and the production of pharmaceuticals. Over the past decade dichloromethane became approximately 60% more abundant. "This was a major surprise to the scientific community and we were keen to discover the cause of this sudden increase," says Oram.

Developing economies in East Asia appear to be the source. "Our estimates suggest that China may be responsible for around 50-60% of current global emissions [of dichloromethane], with other Asian countries, including India, likely to be significant emitters as well," says Oram.

Dichloromethane and similar chemicals were not regulated by the Montreal protocol because they were thought to be too short-lived to reach the ozone layer. However, East Asia has a special pattern of circulation that can push these chemicals skyward, very rapidly.  It's a two-step process: Cold-air surges in East Asia quickly carry industrial pollution into the tropics. "It is here that air is most likely to be uplifted into the stratosphere (where ozone is located)," says co-author Matt Ashfold of the University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus.

Read the original research in the journal of Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics: "A growing threat to the ozone layer from short-lived anthropogenic chlorocarbons" by Oram et al.

Realtime Space Weather Photo Gallery

THESE CRYSTALS HAVE TOUCHED SPACE: 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 and filmed the shadow of the Moon from the stratosphere. As a fundraiser, some of the balloons carried jewelry--like this:

During the 2.5 hour flight, this rose quartz crystal eclipse pendant was 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


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. 14, 2017, the network reported 18 fireballs.
(15 sporadics, 2 epsilon Geminids, 1 Southern Taurid)

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 14, 2017 there were 1844 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Recent & Upcoming Earth-asteroid encounters:
Asteroid
Date(UT)
Miss Distance
Velocity (km/s)
Diameter (m)
2017 TH2
2017-Oct-09
2.1 LD
5
6
2017 SN21
2017-Oct-10
9 LD
7.6
22
2017 SB20
2017-Oct-11
9 LD
7.1
38
2017 TJ2
2017-Oct-11
11.2 LD
11.7
38
2017 RV1
2017-Oct-12
17.8 LD
10.9
346
2012 TC4
2017-Oct-12
0.1 LD
7.6
16
2017 TT1
2017-Oct-13
2.5 LD
10.7
13
2017 TK2
2017-Oct-13
4.9 LD
11.6
25
2017 TU1
2017-Oct-13
5.2 LD
10.4
21
2005 TE49
2017-Oct-13
8.5 LD
11.2
16
2017 TV1
2017-Oct-14
5.6 LD
10.4
20
2013 UM9
2017-Oct-15
17 LD
7.8
39
2006 TU7
2017-Oct-18
18.7 LD
13.3
148
2017 TG2
2017-Oct-19
19.8 LD
19.2
170
2017 SY20
2017-Oct-20
19 LD
7.2
52
2017 TO2
2017-Oct-20
13.9 LD
13.7
81
2017 SH14
2017-Oct-20
15.4 LD
6.9
45
171576
2017-Oct-22
5.8 LD
21.2
677
2003 UV11
2017-Oct-31
15 LD
24.5
447
444584
2017-Nov-17
8.7 LD
14.8
324
2008 WM61
2017-Dec-03
3.8 LD
4.7
16
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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