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SpaceWeather.com -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
 
Solar wind
speed: 321.5 km/sec
density: 13.0 protons/cm3
more data: ACE, DSCOVR
Updated: Today at 2348 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A1
2225 UT Oct31
24-hr: A1
1254 UT Oct31
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2300 UT
Daily Sun: 31 Oct 18
The sun is blank--no sunspots. Credit: SDO/HMI

Sunspot number: 0
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 31 Oct 2018

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 13 days
2018 total: 179 days (59%)
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 31 Oct 2018


Thermosphere Climate Index
today: 4.15
x1010 W Cold
Max: 49.4
x1010 W Hot (10/1957)
Min: 2.05
x1010 W Cold (02/2009)
explanation | more data
Updated 31 Oct 2018

The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 67 sfu
explanation | more data
Updated 31 Oct 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= 1
quiet
explanation | more data
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 5.4 nT
Bz: -0.0 nT south
more data: ACE, DSCOVR
Updated: Today at 2347 UT
Coronal Holes: 31 Oct 18

Solar wind flowing from this large coronal hole could reach Earth on Nov. 3-4, possiby causing G1-class geomagnetic storms. 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
SPACE WEATHER
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2018 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: 2018 Oct 31 2200 UTC
Mid-latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
ACTIVE
10 %
10 %
MINOR
01 %
05 %
SEVERE
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
ACTIVE
20 %
15 %
MINOR
20 %
20 %
SEVERE
10 %
15 %
 
Wednesday, Oct. 31, 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!

 

POLAR GEOMAGNETIC UNREST: Earth is entering a minor stream of solar wind on Oct. 31st. The encounter will not spark full-fledged geomagnetic storms, but it may be enough to ghostly green auroras around the Arctic Circle on Halloween night. Free: Aurora Alerts.

HALLOWEEN MEMORIES: Halloween brings special memories to longtime aurora photographer Dave Parkhurst of Alaska. "15 years ago last night and tonight, huge aurora storms covered the Earth!" he recalls. "The skies above Alaska were particularly stunning."

Halloween 2003 was a milestone in modern space weather. From Oct. 19th through Nov. 7th 2003, there were 17 major eruptions on the sun, including a record-setting X28 flare. One after another, CMEs (coronal mass ejections) slammed into Earth's magnetosphere, causing geomagnetic storms and Northern lights seen as far south as Florida and Texas. On Halloween itself, many trick or treaters witnessed blood-red auroras--very spooky indeed.

Parkhurst recalls the geomagnetic indices going wild. "A-indices powered up to 199 and K-indices were in the range 7 to 9 for a 48 hour period," he says. "We haven't seen anything like it since."

"This next Solar Cycle 25 will be my 5th cycle since I started photographing auroral displays in 1980. A majority of aurora chasers today are relatively new to the game, including newly booming high latitude 'Aurora Tours' that help people fulfill their bucket lists. They have yet to experience a really powerful Solar Maximum. When Solar Cycle 25 finally decides to ramp up in a year or two hopefully there will be some huge storms to thrill and put things into perspective regarding the scary power of the sun."

Realtime Aurora Photo Gallery

THE GREAT SPACE PUMPKIN: It's the spookiest space weather balloon mission ever. Last October, 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 the flight tons of fun, it taught us how to operate our hardware outside the warm confines of our usual payload. These new capabilities are coming in handy as we brainstorm new and exciting missions in the future. Happy Halloween!

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

VAN GOGH CLOUDS IN FINLAND: As a photographer living in Finland, Matti Helin is no stranger to swirling colors in the sky. He sees them all the time during geomagnetic storms. But the colors he witnessed on Oct. 29th were not auroras. Helin snapped this picture of "van Gogh clouds":

That's right, Vincent van Gogh.

These clouds, also known as "billow clouds," are produced by the Kelvin-Helmholtz instability when horizontal layers of air brush by one another at different velocities. It is widely believed that these waves in the sky inspired the swirls in van Gogh's masterpiece The Starry Night.

In this case, the clouds were traced by the motion of air and painted by the colors of the Arctic sunset. Helin's video of the phenomenon sets the canvas in motion. Watch it on Youtube.

Realtime Space Weather Photo Gallery


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 Spaceweather.com.

On Oct. 30, 2018, the network reported 39 fireballs.
(26 sporadics, 8 Southern Taurids, 5 Orionids)

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, 2018 there were 1936 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Recent & Upcoming Earth-asteroid encounters:
Asteroid
Date(UT)
Miss Distance
Velocity (km/s)
Diameter (m)
475534
2018-Oct-29
7.5 LD
18.1
204
2018 UC
2018-Oct-30
5.4 LD
9.3
23
2018 UD3
2018-Nov-02
1.6 LD
7.3
20
2018 UY1
2018-Nov-04
7.4 LD
8.3
55
2002 VE68
2018-Nov-04
14.7 LD
8.6
282
2018 TF3
2018-Nov-05
7.8 LD
20.6
300
2010 VQ
2018-Nov-07
15.6 LD
3.8
10
2018 UQ1
2018-Nov-13
9.5 LD
12.3
153
2009 WB105
2018-Nov-25
15.2 LD
18.9
71
2008 WD14
2018-Nov-27
7.4 LD
9.3
93
2001 WO15
2018-Nov-28
13.6 LD
11.7
107
2018 TG6
2018-Dec-02
3.9 LD
1.4
12
2013 VX4
2018-Dec-09
4.1 LD
6.6
65
2015 XX169
2018-Dec-13
17 LD
5.8
12
2017 XQ60
2018-Dec-21
11.3 LD
15.6
47
163899
2018-Dec-22
7.4 LD
6.2
1232
418849
2018-Dec-23
16.6 LD
17.6
269
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, 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 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.
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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