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SpaceWeather.com -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
 
Solar wind
speed: 345.8 km/sec
density: 6.7 protons/cm3
more data: ACE, DSCOVR
Updated: Today at 2349 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A2
1830 UT May15
24-hr: A2
1830 UT May15
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2300 UT
Daily Sun: 15 May 18
The sun is blank--no sunspots. Credit: SDO/HMI

Sunspot number: 0
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 15 May 2018

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 1 day
2018 total: 74 days (55%)
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%)

Updated 15 May 2018


The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 70 sfu
explanation | more data
Updated 15 May 2018

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: 3.2 nT
Bz: 1.6 nT north
more data: ACE, DSCOVR
Updated: Today at 2348 UT
Coronal Holes: 14 May 18

Solar wind flowing from the indicated coronal hole could reach Earth on May 17th. Credit: SDO/AIA
Noctilucent Clouds Our connection with NASA's AIM spacecraft has been restored! New images from AIM show that the southern season for noctilucent clouds (NLCs) is underway. Come back to this spot every day to see AIM's "daily daisy," which reveals the dance of electric-blue NLCs around the Antarctic Circle..
Switch view: Ross Ice Shelf, Antarctic Peninsula, East Antarctica, Polar
Updated at: 02-07-2018 17:55:05
SPACE WEATHER
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2018 May 15 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 May 15 2200 UTC
Mid-latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
ACTIVE
15 %
40 %
MINOR
05 %
25 %
SEVERE
01 %
05 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
ACTIVE
15 %
10 %
MINOR
20 %
25 %
SEVERE
20 %
60 %
 
Tuesday, May. 15, 2018
What's up in space
       
 

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GEOMAGNETIC STORMS POSSIBLE LATER THIS WEEK: NOAA forecasters estimate a 60% chance of G1-class geomagnetic storms on May 17th when a stream of solar wind hits Earth's magnetic field. The gaseous material is flowing from a southern hole in the sun's atmosphere. High-latitude sky watchers should be alert for auroras and, of course, STEVE. Free: Aurora Alerts.

LOST ASTEROID RETURNS TO EARTH: Last night in Australia, near-Earth asteroid 2010 WC9 glided silently across the starry sky of Brisbane while the city's residents slept. Well... not every resident slept. Amateur astronomer Dennis Simmons was wide awake and recorded the flyby:

"The asteroid moved rapidly through the constellation Hercules shining about as brightly as a 15th magnitude star," says Simmons. "The 'wobbly' appearance of the trail is as a result of slight periodic errors in the telescope mount's gear train. This is not caused by the asteroid tumbling!"

Tonight, the view will improve--a lot. On May 15th, 2010 WC9 will fly through the Earth-Moon system, splitting the distance between our planet and the Moon. At closest approach (203,000 km), the asteroid will glow like an 11th magnitude star (~40 times brighter than shown above) as it races through the southern constellation Pavo (the Peacock).

2010 WC9 is known as the "lost asteroid" because astronomers lost track of it soon after it was discovered in November 2010. The asteroid receded from Earth and didn't return for nearly 8 years ... until now.


Click on this image to launch an interactive 3D orbit of 2010 WC9

Estimates of 2010 WC9's size range from 60 m to 130 m wide. This puts it in the class of the Tunguska impactor, which leveled a forest in Siberia in 1908. And it is at least 3 times as large as the Chelyabinsk meteoroid, which exploded in the morning sky over Russia on Feb. 15, 2013, shattering windows and knocking people to the ground.

There's no danger of a collision this time, though. Analysts are certain 2010 WC9 will not hit Earth--neither this week nor in the foreseeable future. New observations of the asteroid in recent days have extended our knowledge of its orbit and eliminated it as a threat for at least the next 100 years.

2010 WC9 is invisible to the naked eye. Advanced amateur astronomers can photograph it, however, using mid-sized telescopes equipped with low-light video cameras. Southern hemisphere observers are favored, expecially those in South Africa and southern parts of South America where the asteroid will be high in the night sky at closest approach. [ephemeris] [3D orbit]

Realtime Space Weather Photo Gallery

3D GLOWING MOON GLOBE: Are you looking for a far-out gift? Consider this: In January, the students of Earth to Sky Calculus flew a glowing 3D printed Moon globe to the stratosphere:

You can have it for $149.95. The students are selling these unique globes as a fundraiser for their cosmic ray monitoring program.

The surface of the sphere is an accurate topo-map of lunar terrain, tracing every major crater and mountain range. It is also a night light. A built-in USB-rechargeable battery provides up to 20 hours of illumination.

Each glowing orb comes with a greeting card showing the Moon in flight and telling the story of its journey to the edge of space. All proceeds support Earth to Sky Calculus and hands-on STEM research.

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 May. 15, 2018, the network reported 19 fireballs.
(18 sporadics, 1 eta Aquariid)

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 May 15, 2018 there were 1907 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Recent & Upcoming Earth-asteroid encounters:
Asteroid
Date(UT)
Miss Distance
Velocity (km/s)
Diameter (m)
2018 JJ
2018-May-10
13.1 LD
12.7
51
2018 JF2
2018-May-11
13.3 LD
8.3
50
2018 GR2
2018-May-11
13.4 LD
9.8
111
2018 JZ
2018-May-11
4.3 LD
13.2
13
2016 HP6
2018-May-13
2.2 LD
5.6
28
2018 JA1
2018-May-13
4.4 LD
5.8
25
2018 JL1
2018-May-14
7.5 LD
5.7
16
2018 JY
2018-May-14
8.8 LD
10.6
53
1999 LK1
2018-May-15
13.3 LD
10
141
2018 JX1
2018-May-15
9.4 LD
7.7
18
2010 WC9
2018-May-15
0.5 LD
12.8
71
2018 JX
2018-May-16
3.9 LD
13
74
2018 JC
2018-May-17
17.7 LD
9.3
75
2018 GL1
2018-May-18
14.3 LD
5.2
69
2018 JL2
2018-May-19
10.9 LD
13.5
40
2018 JG1
2018-May-20
5.3 LD
8.3
44
2018 JK
2018-May-22
16.3 LD
12.5
81
2018 JG2
2018-May-25
18.5 LD
6.9
62
68347
2018-May-29
9.5 LD
13.3
389
2013 LE7
2018-May-31
17.8 LD
1.7
12
2018 EJ4
2018-Jun-10
5.6 LD
6.2
195
2015 DP155
2018-Jun-11
9 LD
4.4
170
2017 YE5
2018-Jun-21
15.6 LD
15.5
513
467309
2018-Jun-23
17.9 LD
14
355
441987
2018-Jun-24
7.3 LD
12.6
178
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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