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SpaceWeather.com -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
 
Solar wind
speed: 466.1 km/sec
density: 6.4 protons/cm3
more data: ACE, DSCOVR
Updated: Today at 2351 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A6
1843 UT Dec25
24-hr: B1
0716 UT Dec25
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2300 UT
Daily Sun: 25 Dec 17
Sunspot AR2692 has a stable magnetic field that poses little threat for strong flares. Credit: SDO/HMI

Sunspot number: 22
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 25 Dec 2017

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 0 days
2017 total: 101 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 Dec 2017


The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 76 sfu
explanation | more data
Updated 25 Dec 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= 3
quiet
explanation | more data
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 7.4 nT
Bz: -4.2 nT south
more data: ACE, DSCOVR
Updated: Today at 2351 UT
Coronal Holes: 25 Dec 17

Earth is inside a stream of solar wind flowing from the indicated coronal hole.. Credit: SDO/AIA
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: 12-25-2017 15:55:14
SPACE WEATHER
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2017 Dec 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: 2017 Dec 25 2200 UTC
Mid-latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
ACTIVE
15 %
15 %
MINOR
05 %
05 %
SEVERE
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
ACTIVE
15 %
15 %
MINOR
25 %
20 %
SEVERE
25 %
20 %
 
Monday, Dec. 25, 2017
What's up in space
       
 

Lights Over Lapland is excited to announce that we now have TWO aurora webcams covering nearly a 200° view of Abisko National Park in Sweden! Watch the auroras dance live, all season long here.

 

CHRISTMAS LIGHTS: Do you believe in Santa Claus? Last night Oliver Wright may have spotted the Jolly Old Elf flying over Abisko, Sweden. "I was leading a Christmas tour for Lights over Lapland," he explains. "The clouds parted and we saw a band of lights that looked like Santa getting pulled across the sky by aurora reindeer!" In this snapshot, Santa's sleigh is on the left:

"Straight after this, a huge corona developed above the yurt which looked like the ghost of Christmas future from Dicken's Christmas Carol," says Wright. "What a great Christmas outing!"

Meanwhile in the southern hemisphere, Paul Stewart witnessed a similar display over Timaru, New Zealand:

"I took this picture during the early hours of Christmas in our country," Stewart says.

The scientific explanation for these auroras involves the solar wind: A stream of gaseous material flowing from a hole in the sun's atmosphere hit Earth on Christmas Eve, causing energetic particles from space to rain down on our planet's upper atmosphere. Auroras are the result of that otherworldly rainfall.

Or.... Santa gets around. Merry Christmas! Free: Aurora alerts.

Realtime Aurora Photo Gallery

STUDENT CHRISTMAS SPECIAL: Christmas shopping for a young scientist? Consider this: For the holiday season only, we're reducing the cost of payload space on Earth to Sky Calculus balloons from $500 to only $299. Buy a ticket to space on or before Dec. 25th and your student can send an experiment, photo, or keepsake item to the stratosphere, completely supported by an Earth to Sky Calculus launch and recovery team.

This is not only a great Christmas gift, but also a good kickstarter for science fair projects. Experiments will be flown and returned along with video footage, GPS tracking, temperature, pressure, altimetry and radiation data.

To take advantage of the discounted rate, payment must be received before Dec. 25th. However, the flight can take place at any time in the next 12 months.

Conditions: No mammals. Plants and non-pathogenic microbes are allowed. Generally speaking, experiments should weigh less than a few hundred grams and occupy a volume less than that of a school lunchbox. A brainstorming session is included with each certificate. Dr. Tony Phillips and other members of the Earth to Sky team will chat with recipients to help them craft an experiment that will work in the harsh environment of the stratosphere.

Far Out Gifts: Earth to Sky Store
All proceeds support hands-on STEM education

ROCK COMET RADAR: On Dec. 16th, the strange parent of the Geminids meteor shower, rock comet 3200 Phaethon, made a close approach to Earth--only 10 million km away. Astronomers at the giant Arecibo radar in Puerto Rico took advantage of the flyby, pinging the space rock with powerful pulses of radio energy. Now we know what a rock comet looks like:

The new radar images show that 3200 Phaethon is roughly ball-shaped, like a miniature planet, and it is a bit larger than previously thought. The rock comet has a diameter of about 6 km -- roughly 1 km larger than earlier estimates. There is also a large concavity, or depression, at least several hundred meters in extent near its equator, and a conspicuous dark, circular feature near one of the poles (marked by an arrow).

These images are a significant achievement for Arecibo, the most powerful astronomical radar system on Earth. On Sept. 20, Puerto Rico was devastated by Hurricane Maria. The great radar dish suffered only minor structural damage, but it couldn't return to normal operations while the island around it was in distress. Arecibo served as a base for relief efforts to surrounding communities. Radar observations, which require high power and diesel fuel for generators at the site, resumed operations in early December -- just in time for the rock comet flyby -- after commercial power returned to the observatory and the generators could then be used exclusively for the radar.

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 Dec. 25, 2017, the network reported 9 fireballs.
(7 sporadics, 1 December Leonis Minorid, 1 alpha Hydrid)

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 December 25, 2017 there were 1872 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Recent & Upcoming Earth-asteroid encounters:
Asteroid
Date(UT)
Miss Distance
Velocity (km/s)
Diameter (m)
2017 XY61
2017-Dec-19
2.5 LD
13.9
20
2017 YY
2017-Dec-19
20 LD
10.2
26
2011 YD29
2017-Dec-19
17.6 LD
7.7
20
2017 YN1
2017-Dec-20
8.4 LD
8.1
21
2017 YT1
2017-Dec-20
8 LD
21.1
38
2017 YP1
2017-Dec-20
5.7 LD
13.6
26
2017 WX12
2017-Dec-21
10 LD
11.4
135
2017 XR60
2017-Dec-21
13 LD
6.2
48
2017 XQ60
2017-Dec-21
13.4 LD
15.7
46
2017 YE
2017-Dec-22
2.9 LD
4.7
7
2017 TS3
2017-Dec-22
18.1 LD
10.2
137
418849
2017-Dec-22
15.3 LD
17.4
257
2015 YQ1
2017-Dec-22
17.3 LD
11.1
9
2017 YW
2017-Dec-22
7.9 LD
8.3
16
2017 YS1
2017-Dec-24
1.9 LD
3.4
6
2017 WZ14
2017-Dec-24
7.6 LD
4.9
34
2017 YQ1
2017-Dec-26
5.2 LD
21.1
44
2017 YD2
2017-Dec-27
2.2 LD
8.3
6
2017 XG1
2017-Dec-29
16.3 LD
9.9
38
2017 QL33
2017-Dec-30
13.3 LD
8.2
193
2017 YU1
2017-Dec-30
7.8 LD
7.6
20
2017 YD
2018-Jan-01
19.1 LD
4.1
30
2015 RT1
2018-Jan-02
19.7 LD
9
30
2017 XT61
2018-Jan-08
11.4 LD
10.8
83
2004 FH
2018-Jan-10
20 LD
8.5
26
306383
2018-Jan-22
14.4 LD
17.4
178
2002 CB19
2018-Feb-02
10.5 LD
15.6
36
276033
2018-Feb-04
11 LD
34
646
2015 BN509
2018-Feb-09
12.9 LD
17.7
257
1991 VG
2018-Feb-11
18.4 LD
2.1
7
2014 WQ202
2018-Feb-11
15.1 LD
19.8
62
2016 CO246
2018-Feb-22
15.3 LD
5.4
21
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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