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SpaceWeather.com -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
 
Solar wind
speed: 380.7 km/sec
density: 3.9 protons/cm3
more data: ACE, DSCOVR
Updated: Today at 2347 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: B1
2157 UT Sep22
24-hr: B1
1642 UT Sep22
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2300 UT
Daily Sun: 22 Sep 17
These sunspots pose no threat for strong solar flares. Credit: SDO/HMI

Sunspot number: 22
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 22 Sep 2017

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 0 days
2017 total: 56 days (21%)
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 22 Sep 2017


The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 73 sfu
explanation | more data
Updated 22 Sep 2017

Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
Credit: NOAA/Ovation
Planetary K-index
Now: Kp= 2 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 2
quiet
explanation | more data
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 4.7 nT
Bz: 2.9 nT north
more data: ACE, DSCOVR
Updated: Today at 2347 UT
Coronal Holes: 22 Sep 17

Solar wind flowing from this coronal hole should reach Earth on Sep. 23-24. 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 22 2200 UTC
FLARE
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
CLASS M
15 %
15 %
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 Sep 22 2200 UTC
Mid-latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
ACTIVE
15 %
25 %
MINOR
05 %
10 %
SEVERE
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
ACTIVE
15 %
15 %
MINOR
25 %
25 %
SEVERE
25 %
40 %
 
Friday, Sep. 22, 2017
What's up in space
       
 

Lights Over Lapland is excited to announce that our Customisable Aurora Adventures are available for immediate booking! Reserve your adventure of a lifetime in Abisko National Park, Sweden today!

 

HAPPY EQUINOX: Autumn begins in the Northern Hemisphere, and spring in the Southern Hemisphere, today at 4:02 p.m. EDT. That's when the sun crosses the equator heading south for the season. Astronomers call this date the equinox, because night and day are of almost equal length. It also marks the beginning of aurora season. Data prove it: Auroras love equinoxes. At this time of year, even a gentle gust of solar wind can spark a bright display. Free: Aurora Alerts

THE LAST DAY OF SUMMER IN NORWAY: The onset of autumn around the Arctic Circle brings an end to relentless summer sunlight--and a new beginning for Northern Lights. Frank Olsen of Andøya island, Norway, witnessed both on Sept. 21st:

"Last night brought an amazing sunset," says Olsen. "Its glow lasted for hours. A slow-moving aurora band completed the scene with its promise of the season ahead."

That promise could be fulfilled very soon. A solar wind stream flowing from a hole in the sun's atmosphere is heading for Earth. Estimated time of arrival: Sept.23rd or 24th. NOAA forecasters estimate a 40% chance of polar geomagnetic storms when the solar wind arrives. Free: Aurora Alerts

Realtime Aurora Photo Gallery

SPACECRAFT BUZZES EARTH EN ROUTE TO ASTEROID: NASA's OSIRIS-REx spacecraft is flying past Earth today, Sept. 22nd, using our planet's gravity to fling itself toward a potentially hazardous asteroid named "Bennu." At closest approach, OSIRIS-REx will be only 10,711 miles above Earth's surface, inside the orbit of geosynchronous satellites. This map shows the circumstances of the encounter:

During the brief hours around closest approach, the spacecraft could shine with as much reflected sunlight as a 9th to 11th magnitude star--well within reach of backyard telescopes under the ground track. Observing tips are available from NASA.

NASA is visiting Bennu ... before it visits us. Bennu crosses Earth's orbit every six years. In 2135, the asteroid may enter a "keyhole" between the Earth and the Moon where the gravitational pull of our own planet will tweak Bennu's orbit, potentially putting it on course for Earth later that century. Currently, the odds of a collision 150+ years from now are no more than about 1 in 2700--small, but enough to prompt an $800 million space mission.

Arriving in late 2018, OSIRIS-REx will spend more than a year flying in close proximity to Bennu using five instruments to survey the asteroid. The resulting maps will pinpoint a safe sampling site, where the probe can each out with a mechanical arm and gather material from the asteroid's surface. If all goes as planned, samples will be returned to Earth in the Fall of 2023, when a capsule containing bits of Bennu will land at the Utah Test and Training Range.

Realtime Space Weather Photo Gallery

TOTAL ECLIPSE OF THE HEART 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, such as this heart-shaped pendant floating inside the Moon's shadow more than 100,000 feet above Oregon's Malheur National Forest:

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 limited-quantity 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


  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. 22, 2017, the network reported 22 fireballs.
(21 sporadics, 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 September 22, 2017 there were 1803 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Recent & Upcoming Earth-asteroid encounters:
Asteroid
Date(UT)
Miss Distance
Velocity (km/s)
Diameter (m)
2017 SP2
2017-Sep-17
5.9 LD
22.1
27
2017 RK2
2017-Sep-17
2.5 LD
7.7
9
2017 RX2
2017-Sep-18
6.2 LD
12.6
18
2017 RU2
2017-Sep-18
6.8 LD
8.9
25
2017 RG2
2017-Sep-19
7.9 LD
8.4
47
2017 SM2
2017-Sep-20
0.8 LD
8.5
12
2017 SR2
2017-Sep-20
0.2 LD
10
7
2017 RQ15
2017-Sep-22
9.7 LD
20.4
23
2017 RB15
2017-Sep-22
5.8 LD
5
10
2017 PR25
2017-Sep-23
17.9 LD
13.5
228
2017 RW2
2017-Sep-25
15.1 LD
12.9
28
2017 SP10
2017-Sep-25
12.2 LD
9.2
19
2017 RW1
2017-Sep-25
11 LD
12.7
66
2017 RO16
2017-Sep-25
5 LD
8.2
9
2017 RB16
2017-Sep-26
4.8 LD
9.5
26
2017 SQ10
2017-Sep-27
16.2 LD
7.4
18
1989 VB
2017-Sep-29
7.9 LD
6.3
408
2017 RP15
2017-Sep-30
14.8 LD
5.5
16
2017 OD69
2017-Oct-01
13.2 LD
7.6
213
2017 SO10
2017-Oct-04
16.7 LD
8.4
37
2004 RE84
2017-Oct-04
15.3 LD
16.1
129
2017 RV1
2017-Oct-12
17.8 LD
10.9
350
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
444584
2017-Nov-17
8.7 LD
14.8
324
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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