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SpaceWeather.com -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
 
Solar wind
speed: 279.4 km/sec
density: 13.6 protons/cm3
more data: ACE, DSCOVR
Updated: Today at 2349 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A6
1941 UT Oct31
24-hr: A7
0732 UT Oct31
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2300 UT
Daily Sun: 31 Oct 17
These two sunspots are fading away, setting the stage for a renewed period of blank suns. Credit: SDO/HMI

Sunspot number: 22
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 31 Oct 2017

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 0 days
2017 total: 68 days (23%)
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 31 Oct 2017


The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 76 sfu
explanation | more data
Updated 31 Oct 2017

Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
Credit: NOAA/Ovation
Planetary K-index
Now: Kp= 0 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 2
quiet
explanation | more data
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 3.3 nT
Bz: -1.8 nT south
more data: ACE, DSCOVR
Updated: Today at 2349 UT
Coronal Holes: 31 Oct 17

Solar wind flowing from this southern coronal hole should reach Earth on Nov. 2nd, possibly causing magnetic unrest around the poles. 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 Oct 31 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 Oct 31 2200 UTC
Mid-latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
ACTIVE
20 %
30 %
MINOR
10 %
15 %
SEVERE
01 %
05 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
ACTIVE
15 %
15 %
MINOR
25 %
25 %
SEVERE
30 %
35 %
 
Tuesday, Oct. 31, 2017
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

 

COMING SOON! VENUS-JUPITER CONJUNCTION: For the past few weeks, Jupiter has been hiding behind the sun. In November, the giant planet will emerge from the glare and race into the pre-dawn sky for a spectacular conjunction with Venus. At closest approach on Nov. 13th, the two bright worlds will be a breathtaking 0.3 degrees apart--so close that you can hide them together behind an outstretched pinky finger. Mark your calendar. Sky maps: Nov. 12, 13, 14.

HERE COMES THE SOLAR WIND: A hole has opened in the sun's atmosphere, and it is spewing a stream of solar wind toward Earth. Estimated time of arrival: Nov. 2nd. This image, based on data from NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory, shows the structure facing Earth on Oct. 30th:

This is a "coronal hole," a region where the sun's magnetic field opens up and allows solar wind to escape. Gaseous material is emerging faster than 600 km/s. The southern orientation of the crack could cause the solar wind stream to hit Earth off-center, mitigating its effect; although this is not yet certain.

NOAA forecasters say that the leading edge of the solar wind stream may contain a shockwave-like structure called a CIR (co-rotating interaction region). CIRs are transition zones between slow- and fast-moving solar wind. They contain density gradients and enhanced magnetic fields that often do a good job sparking auroras.  As a result, Arctic sky watchers might see Northern Lights mixed with nearly-full moonlight on Nov. 2-3. Free: Aurora Alerts.

Realtime Aurora Photo Gallery

THE SPACE PUMPKIN: It's the spookiest space weather balloon mission ever. On Oct. 22, 2017, the students of Earth to Sky Calculus launched a pumpkin to the edge of space. The Jack O'Lantern flew to a record-setting altitude of 107,284 feet before parachuting back to Earth, landing on the verge of Death Valley National Park.

To make this happen, the students completely redesigned their usual space weather balloon payload, replacing the cosmic ray capsule with a pumpkin. A test flight on Oct. 15th verified the operation of the pumpkin's flight computer, camera, and GPS trackers. After making a few improvements, the stage was set for the Great Pumpkin Balloon Launch on Oct. 22nd. The space pumpkin reached a GPS-verified altitude of 107,284 feet, which we believe is a record. Not only was this flight tons of fun, it taught us how to operate our hardware outside the warm confines of our usual payload. These new capabilities will surely come in handy as we brainstorm new and exciting missions in the future. Happy Halloween!

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

 

A FAR-OUT CHRISTMAS GIFT: On Sept. 10, 2017, giant sunspot AR2673 exploded, producing an X8-class solar flare. The powerful blast accelerated a stream of electrons and protons toward Earth. By the time the particles arrived, this crystal pyramid was waiting for them at the top of Earth's atmosphere:

What was it doing up there? It hitched a ride onboard a space weather balloon, launched by the students of Earth to Sky Calculus to measure radiation from the flare. In addition to the pyramid (flown for fundraising), the balloon's payload carried an array of X-ray/gamma-ray detectors, cameras, temperature/pressure sensors, GPS altimeters and, of course, extra pyramids.

You can have one for $119.95. Each pyramid comes with a unique gift card showing the crystal 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


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 Oct. 31, 2017, the network reported 92 fireballs.
(82 sporadics, 3 Northern Taurids, 3 Orionids, 3 Southern Taurids, 1)

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 October 31, 2017 there were 1853 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Recent & Upcoming Earth-asteroid encounters:
Asteroid
Date(UT)
Miss Distance
Velocity (km/s)
Diameter (m)
2017 UJ5
2017-Oct-26
18.8 LD
6.3
41
2017 UW7
2017-Oct-26
5 LD
12
11
2017 UP43
2017-Oct-27
1.2 LD
8
19
2017 UN43
2017-Oct-27
4.9 LD
16.4
22
2017 UM5
2017-Oct-27
6 LD
17.1
27
2017 UK44
2017-Oct-27
13.1 LD
10.2
36
2017 UB6
2017-Oct-28
12.4 LD
7.5
13
2017 UK6
2017-Oct-28
11.9 LD
14.7
59
2017 UP7
2017-Oct-28
12.8 LD
12.8
23
2017 UL6
2017-Oct-28
0.2 LD
8
1
2017 UV7
2017-Oct-29
6.1 LD
12.5
18
2017 UA6
2017-Oct-29
4 LD
15
26
2017 UL8
2017-Oct-30
1.2 LD
10.5
8
2017 UK8
2017-Oct-30
0.6 LD
14.1
8
2017 UL43
2017-Oct-30
14.2 LD
10.4
18
2017 UJ6
2017-Oct-30
5.5 LD
11.3
18
2017 UO43
2017-Oct-31
6.6 LD
5.7
9
2017 TZ4
2017-Oct-31
19.3 LD
13.1
96
2003 UV11
2017-Oct-31
15 LD
24.5
447
2017 UP6
2017-Oct-31
15.1 LD
11.6
22
2017 UO2
2017-Oct-31
11 LD
8.7
22
2017 UD43
2017-Nov-01
4.7 LD
8.8
7
2017 UL44
2017-Nov-03
13.3 LD
15.4
65
2017 UX42
2017-Nov-05
10.5 LD
2.6
7
2017 US7
2017-Nov-05
7.1 LD
8.8
13
2017 UJ7
2017-Nov-05
16.8 LD
13
28
2017 UJ43
2017-Nov-05
4.6 LD
7.3
9
2013 BD74
2017-Nov-06
10.6 LD
9
51
2017 TZ3
2017-Nov-09
10.3 LD
8.7
39
444584
2017-Nov-17
8.7 LD
14.8
324
2008 WM61
2017-Dec-03
3.8 LD
4.7
16
2015 XX169
2017-Dec-14
9.7 LD
6.3
11
2011 YD29
2017-Dec-19
17.6 LD
7.7
20
2006 XY
2017-Dec-20
6.5 LD
5
56
418849
2017-Dec-22
15.3 LD
17.4
257
2017 TS3
2017-Dec-22
18.2 LD
10.3
136
2015 YQ1
2017-Dec-22
17.3 LD
11.1
9
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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