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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Solar wind
speed: 427.7 km/sec
density: 6.8 protons/cm3
more data: ACE, DSCOVR
Updated: Today at 2346 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A1
2048 UT Sep27
24-hr: A1
2048 UT Sep27
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2300 UT
Daily Sun: 27 Sep 18
The sun is blank--no sunspots. Credit: SDO/HMI

Sunspot number: 0
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 27 Sep 2018

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 14 days
2018 total: 156 days (58%)
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%)
2008 total: 268 days (73%)
2007 total: 152 days (42%)
2006 total: 70 days (19%)

Updated 27 Sep 2018

The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 68 sfu
explanation | more data
Updated 27 Sep 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= 3
explanation | more data
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 3.7 nT
Bz: -2.9 nT south
more data: ACE, DSCOVR
Updated: Today at 2347 UT
Coronal Holes: 27 Sep 18

There are no large coronal holes on the Earthside of the sun. Credit: SDO/AIA
Noctilucent Clouds The season for noctilucent clouds (NLCs) in the northern hemisphere has come to an end. Images from NASA's AIM spacecraft show no NLCs around the north pole.
Switch view: Europe, USA, Asia, Polar
Updated at: 09-03-2018 14:55:02
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2018 Sep 27 2200 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
01 %
01 %
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 Sep 27 2200 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
10 %
10 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
15 %
15 %
20 %
20 %
15 %
15 %
Thursday, Sep. 27, 2018
What's up in space

Lights Over Lapland has a brand-new website full of exciting adventures in Abisko National Park, Sweden! Take a look at our aurora activities and book your once-in-a-lifetime trip with us today!


EARTH'S MAGNETOSPHERE IS LEAKING: This week, geomagnetic activity has been low. There are no big holes in the sun's atmosphere nor any streams of high-speed solar wind lashing Earth's magnetic field. Nevertheless, Arctic sky watchers have witnessed some beautiful auroras. Why? Earth's magnetosphere is leaking. At this time of year, "equinox cracks" allow solar wind to penetrate our magnetic defenses, sparking Northern Lights without geomagnetic storms. Browse the aurora photo gallery for examples. Free: Aurora Alerts

JAPANESE SPACECRAFT CHASES ISS: Last night, Monika Landy-Gyebnar set up her camera to record a pass of the International Space Station over Márkó, Hungary. The bright ISS appeared on schedule ... and then another spacecraft appeared right behind it, apparently chasing the space station. Landy-Gyebnar video recorded the pursuit:

"The second ship came 2 minutes after ISS, and their path differed only a little bit so they made an amazing flyby," says Landy-Gyebnar, who also created a star-trailed image of the double overpass.

The chaser was Kounotori 7, a robotic Japanese cargo carrier scheduled to rendezvous with the ISS on Thursday morning, Sept. 27th. Also known as HTV-7, the spacecraft is carrying 6.2 metric tons of supplies including fresh food, water, spare parts and experiments. Almost 2 tons of the cargo are batteries--lithium-ion cells that will replace the space station's aging nickel-hydrogen batteries. Spacewalking astronauts will install the new batteries possibly as early as next week, significantly upgrading the space station's power system.

Another item of note on the Kounotori 7 is an experimental re-entry capsule:

Shaped like a cone with dimensions of 2 feet by 2.7 feet, the capsule can carry items from the ISS back to Earth without a human pilot. Later this year, Japanese mission controllers plan to drop the capsule from the ISS for a parachute-assisted splashdown off the coast of Japan. Microgravity protein crystals manufactured onboard the ISS will be placed inside and recovered for analysis.

Visit NASA's ISS blog for updates about the rendevous with Kounotori 7.

Realtime Space Weather Photo Gallery

WHERE NO SPACESHIP HAS GONE BEFORE: On Sept. 24, 2018, the students of Earth to Sky Calculus launched the starship Enterprise to the stratosphere. Riding onboard a high-altitude cosmic ray balloon, the laser-etched crystal spaceship traveled 34.7 km (113,845 feet) above Earth's surface:

You can have it for $149.95. The students are selling the Enterprise to support their cosmic ray ballooning program. Each starship comes with a greeting card showing the item in flight and telling the story of its journey to the edge of space. Also included is a multi-colored LED illuminated stand (shown in the picture above). This creates a colorful visual effect and allows the Enterprise to be used as a far-out night light.

Far Out Gifts: Earth to Sky Store
All sales 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

On Sep. 27, 2018, the network reported 29 fireballs.
(29 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 September 27, 2018 there were 1923 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Recent & Upcoming Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
Velocity (km/s)
Diameter (m)
2018 SR1
17.1 LD
2018 RH6
8.6 LD
2018 ST1
4.3 LD
2018 RQ1
4.1 LD
2018 SK
13.1 LD
2018 SS1
6.5 LD
2018 SM1
6.8 LD
2018 SP1
15.3 LD
2018 EB
15.5 LD
2014 US7
3.2 LD
2013 UG1
10.4 LD
2016 GC221
8.7 LD
7.5 LD
2002 VE68
14.7 LD
2010 VQ
15.6 LD
2009 WB105
15.2 LD
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

SOMETHING NEW! We have developed a new predictive model of aviation radiation. It's called E-RAD--short for Empirical RADiation model. We are constantly flying radiation sensors onboard airplanes over the US and and around the world, so far collecting more than 22,000 gps-tagged radiation measurements. Using this unique dataset, we can predict the dosage on any flight over the USA with an error no worse than 15%.

E-RAD lets us do something new: Every day we monitor approximately 1400 flights criss-crossing the 10 busiest routes in the continental USA. Typically, this includes more than 80,000 passengers per day. E-RAD calculates the radiation exposure for every single flight.

The Hot Flights Table is a daily summary of these calculations. It shows the 5 charter flights with the highest dose rates; the 5 commercial flights with the highest dose rates; 5 commercial flights with near-average dose rates; and the 5 commercial flights with the lowest dose rates. Passengers typically experience dose rates that are 20 to 70 times higher than natural radiation at sea level.

To measure radiation on airplanes, we use the same sensors we fly to the stratosphere onboard Earth to Sky Calculus cosmic ray balloons: neutron bubble chambers and X-ray/gamma-ray Geiger tubes sensitive to energies between 10 keV and 20 MeV. These energies span the range of medical X-ray machines and airport security scanners.

Column definitions: (1) The flight number; (2) The maximum dose rate during the flight, expressed in units of natural radiation at sea level; (3) The maximum altitude of the plane in feet above sea level; (4) Departure city; (5) Arrival city; (6) Duration of the flight.

SPACE WEATHER BALLOON DATA: Approximately once a week, 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 18% since 2015:

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.

En route to the stratosphere, our sensors also pass through aviation altitudes:

In this plot, 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.

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.

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.

  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.
  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
  the underlying science of space weather welcomes two supporters of science communication: SEO Phoenix AZ and CRAS, the Conservatory of Recording Arts and Sciences.
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