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SpaceWeather.com -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
 
Solar wind
speed: 492.3 km/sec
density: 6.7 protons/cm3
more data: ACE, DSCOVR
Updated: Today at 2355 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A2
1945 UT Mar23
24-hr: A2
1549 UT Mar23
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2300 UT
Daily Sun: 23 Mar 18
The sun is blank--no sunspots. Credit: SDO/HMI

Sunspot number: 0
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 23 Mar 2018

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 4 days
2018 total: 45 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 23 Mar 2018


The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 69 sfu
explanation | more data
Updated 23 Mar 2018

Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
Credit: NOAA/Ovation
Planetary K-index
Now: Kp= 4 unsettled
24-hr max: Kp= 4
unsettled
explanation | more data
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 5.5 nT
Bz: -1.5 nT south
more data: ACE, DSCOVR
Updated: Today at 2355 UT
Coronal Holes: 23 Mar 18

Earth is entering a stream of solar wind flowing from the indicated coronal hole. 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 Mar 23 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 Mar 23 2200 UTC
Mid-latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
ACTIVE
35 %
35 %
MINOR
25 %
25 %
SEVERE
05 %
05 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
ACTIVE
10 %
10 %
MINOR
25 %
25 %
SEVERE
55 %
55 %
 
Friday, Mar. 23, 2018
What's up in space
       
 

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AURORAS EXPLODE OVER FINLAND: Earth is entering a stream of solar wind flowing from a sprawling hole in the sun's atmosphere. First contact with the gaseous material on March 22nd sparked a bright display of auroras over Scandinavia. "The sky literally exploded right above our heads," says Didier Van Hellemont, who sends this picture from Luosto, Finland:

"We enjoyed fine auroras for several hours as we walked through the woods from a snow-covered mountain in northern Finland," says Van Hellemont. "And I hope there will be more in the nights ahead."

Indeed there will be. Earth is only in the outskirts of the stream now. Our planet is about to move deeper into the stream where we will experience faster-moving rivulets of solar wind, with speeds exceeding 600 km/s (1.3 million mph). NOAA forecasters estimate a 55% chance of G1-class geomagnetic storms on March 24th and 25th. Free: Aurora Alerts

Realtime Aurora Photo Gallery

SOUTHERN LIGHTS: Autumn has just begun in the southern hemisphere. With the change of seasons, skies are darkening to provide a velvety backdrop for the return of aurora australis. Mike White spotted some on March 23rd from the window seat of an airplane flying  ~35,000 feet over the Southern Ocean south of New Zealand:


"These images were taken onboard Flight to the Lights II--the second charter flight from New Zealand to the southern auroral oval organised by Ian Griffin and Orbit Travel," explains White. "Our Air New Zealand 787 departed Christchurch a little before 8 pm local time on March 22nd and headed south over the Southern Ocean. The auroras were elusive at first, competing against lingering twilight to the west, but by 1 am we could easily see bright auroral activity with the naked eye. After a couple of hours zig-zagging under the auroral oval, we returned to Christchurch."

"The photos don't do justice to the effect of watching the lights moving and changing with your own eyes," adds White. "For us in New Zealand, this was an amazing experience and fantastic opportunity to get under the aurora rather than observing from afar."

Realtime Space Weather Photo Gallery

GET READY FOR MOTHER'S DAY: Are you looking for an outlandish Mother's Day gift? Consider this: On March 5, 2018, the students of Earth to Sky Calculus flew a cosmic ray balloon to the stratosphere, more than 94,000 feet above Earth's surface. Something for Mom went along for the ride:

The students are selling these pendants as a fund-raiser for their cosmic ray monitoring program. You can have one for $79.95. Each pendant comes with a greeting card showing the jewelry in flight and telling the story of its journey to the stratosphere and back again. Mom-satisfaction guaranteed!

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 Mar. 23, 2018, 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 March 23, 2018 there were 1882 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Recent & Upcoming Earth-asteroid encounters:
Asteroid
Date(UT)
Miss Distance
Velocity (km/s)
Diameter (m)
2018 ET1
2018-Mar-18
4.4 LD
6
19
2018 FE3
2018-Mar-18
0.4 LD
6.4
13
2018 FY3
2018-Mar-18
12.8 LD
7.9
20
2018 FQ4
2018-Mar-18
2.4 LD
9.3
15
2018 FE
2018-Mar-18
3.9 LD
12.1
8
2018 EC1
2018-Mar-18
12.6 LD
8.7
21
2018 FQ3
2018-Mar-19
0.7 LD
11
7
2018 FB4
2018-Mar-19
7.3 LD
13.6
11
2018 FG1
2018-Mar-21
4.5 LD
9.7
12
2018 ED9
2018-Mar-21
1.6 LD
6.1
14
2018 FR3
2018-Mar-22
3.2 LD
7.7
13
2018 EV1
2018-Mar-22
7.7 LD
11.2
28
2018 FF3
2018-Mar-23
1.1 LD
12
17
2018 FL2
2018-Mar-23
9 LD
17.7
27
2018 FA2
2018-Mar-23
11.2 LD
8.2
15
2018 FZ3
2018-Mar-23
0.5 LD
14.1
11
2018 FC3
2018-Mar-23
5.3 LD
15.3
11
2018 FW1
2018-Mar-24
9.2 LD
7.3
35
2018 FB3
2018-Mar-25
9.3 LD
15.9
33
2018 FQ1
2018-Mar-25
5.7 LD
5.9
15
2018 FR1
2018-Mar-26
6.2 LD
12.2
17
2018 DH1
2018-Mar-27
9.2 LD
14.4
224
2016 SR2
2018-Mar-28
18.7 LD
7.3
20
2018 FU1
2018-Mar-28
12.3 LD
5.9
15
2018 FO4
2018-Mar-28
7.7 LD
6.3
11
2018 FU3
2018-Mar-29
17.7 LD
8.4
20
2018 FE4
2018-Mar-29
13.3 LD
20.7
35
2018 FB
2018-Mar-29
4.9 LD
8.5
67
2018 FB2
2018-Mar-30
10 LD
6.7
26
2010 GD35
2018-Mar-31
15.5 LD
11.6
45
2018 EM4
2018-Apr-01
6.2 LD
6.2
31
2004 FG29
2018-Apr-02
4 LD
14.9
22
2018 ER1
2018-Apr-02
15.6 LD
4
26
2018 EB
2018-Apr-04
10.4 LD
15.1
165
363599
2018-Apr-12
19.3 LD
24.5
224
2014 UR
2018-Apr-14
9.3 LD
4.4
17
2016 JP
2018-Apr-20
12 LD
12.7
214
2012 XL16
2018-Apr-23
15.8 LD
6.1
28
2013 US3
2018-Apr-29
10.1 LD
7.7
214
2002 JR100
2018-Apr-29
10.8 LD
7.7
49
1999 FN19
2018-May-07
9.7 LD
5.7
118
2016 JQ5
2018-May-08
6.3 LD
10.4
9
388945
2018-May-09
6.5 LD
9
295
1999 LK1
2018-May-15
13.3 LD
10
141
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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