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SpaceWeather.com -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
 
Solar wind
speed: 487.6 km/sec
density: 11.1 protons/cm3
more data: ACE, DSCOVR
Updated: Today at 2355 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A2
2123 UT Mar25
24-hr: A2
0722 UT Mar25
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2300 UT
Daily Sun: 25 Mar 18
The sun is blank--no sunspots. Credit: SDO/HMI

Sunspot number: 0
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 25 Mar 2018

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 6 days
2018 total: 47 days (56%)
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 25 Mar 2018


The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 68 sfu
explanation | more data
Updated 25 Mar 2018

Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
Credit: NOAA/Ovation
Planetary K-index
Now: Kp= 2 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 4
unsettled
explanation | more data
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 5.7 nT
Bz: 3.0 nT north
more data: ACE, DSCOVR
Updated: Today at 2355 UT
Coronal Holes: 25 Mar 18

Solar wind flowing from the indicated coronal hole is expected to reach Earth on March 25th. 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 25 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 25 2200 UTC
Mid-latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
ACTIVE
35 %
20 %
MINOR
15 %
05 %
SEVERE
05 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
ACTIVE
15 %
20 %
MINOR
30 %
25 %
SEVERE
45 %
20 %
 
Sunday, Mar. 25, 2018
What's up in space
       
 

All-inclusive Northern Lights trips in Tromsø, Norway. Small groups, big experiences! Highly qualified guides ensure unique and unforgettable adventures with a personal touch. Visit Explore the Arctic

 

CHANCE OF STORMS TODAY: NOAA forecasters estimate a 55% chance of G1-class geomagnetic storms today, March 25th, as a stream of solar wind blows around Earth. The gaseous material is flowing from a southern hole in the sun's atmosphere. Polar sky watchers should be alert for auroras. Free: Aurora Alerts

'TIS THE SEASON FOR 'STEVE': Last night, something happened at the edge of space over Alaska. More than 200 km above Anchorage, a hot ribbon of ionized gas snaked through Earth's magnetosphere, creating a luminous arc that rivaled the Moon in brightness. Sanjana Greenhill witnessed the apparition:

"We noticed this perfect arc developing across the sky," says Greenhill. "It didn't seem like the aurora since it wasn't moving much. The arc got brighter and then faded and then got brighter again. And then it dawned on me, this is STEVE!"

STEVE is an aurora-like phenomenon that researchers are only beginning to understand. For many years, northern sky watchers reported the form occasionally dancing alongside auroras. It was widely called a "proton arc" until researchers pointed out that protons had nothing to do with it. So members of the Alberta Aurora Chasers group gave it a new name: "Steve" (since upgraded to STEVE, an acronym for 'Strong Thermal Emission Velocity Enhancement.')

The first clues to the nature of STEVE came in 2016 when one of the European Space Agency's Swarm satellites encountered the phenomenon. "As the satellite flew straight though 'Steve,' the temperature jumped by 3000°C and the data revealed a 25 km-wide ribbon of gas flowing westwards at about 6 km/s (13,000 mph)," reports Eric Donovan from the University of Calgary.


This ESA animation shows Swarm satellites orbiting Earth above ground cameras observing STEVE

Donovan and a team of colleagues led by Elizabeth MacDonald of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center have just published a paper on STEVE. In it, they confirm that STEVE is distinct from ordinary auroras, usually forming to the south of active Northern Lights. The mauve and purple colored arcs, they say, are related to supersonic rivers of gas called "subauroral ion drifts" (SAIDs), which flow through Earth's magnetic field. Earth-orbiting satelites have tracked thousands of SAIDs: they tend to appear near latitude +60 degrees, and occur more frequently during spring and fall than summer and winter.

This last point means that now is the season for STEVE. The onset of northern spring seems to lure the arc out of winter hiding.

"I saw STEVE for the first time on March 18th," reports Giuseppe Petricca , who took this sequence of pictures from the Isle of Lewis in Scotland:

"It was an ever-changing tornado, with violet tones, always in movement, always with different shapes," he says. "Another wonder of Nature!"

The mystery of STEVE is far from solved. Researchers still don't understand why STEVE is purple--or for that matter why the underlying rivers of gas should glow at all. "Further spectral analysis and modeling are needed," say MacDonald et al.

In other words, keep an eye out for STEVE.

Realtime "Steve" Photo Gallery

OUT OF THIS WORLD GIFT: It's sterling silver and it comes from space. 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. This Mother's Day pendant went along for the ride:

You can have one for $119.95. The students are selling these pendants as a fund-raiser for their cosmic ray monitoring program. All proceeds support atmospheric radiation measurements and hands-on STEM education.

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


Realtime Aurora Photo Gallery


Realtime Space Weather 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 Mar. 25, 2018, the network reported 3 fireballs.
(3 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 25, 2018 there were 1882 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Recent & Upcoming Earth-asteroid encounters:
Asteroid
Date(UT)
Miss Distance
Velocity (km/s)
Diameter (m)
2018 FX4
2018-Mar-20
4.1 LD
22.4
27
2018 FG1
2018-Mar-21
4.5 LD
9.7
12
2018 FU4
2018-Mar-21
17 LD
8.4
29
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
34
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
61
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
2018 FW4
2018-Apr-05
9.8 LD
11.6
32
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
2018 FV4
2018-Apr-29
17.7 LD
6.5
60
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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