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SpaceWeather.com -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
 
Solar wind
speed: 402.4 km/sec
density: 3.3 protons/cm3
more data: ACE, DSCOVR
Updated: Today at 2351 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A6
1933 UT Aug20
24-hr: A7
1200 UT Aug20
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2300 UT
Daily Sun: 20 Aug 19
The sun is blank--no sunspots. Credit: SDO/HMI

Sunspot number: 0
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 20 Aug 2019

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 13 days
2019 total: 156 days (68%)
2018 total: 221 days (61%)
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 20 Aug 2019


Thermosphere Climate Index
today: 3.05
x1010 W Cold
Max: 49.4
x1010 W Hot (10/1957)
Min: 2.05
x1010 W Cold (02/2009)
explanation | more data: gfx, txt
Updated 20 Aug 2019

The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 68 sfu
explanation | more data
Updated 20 Aug 2019

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: 4.3 nT
Bz: -2.0 nT south
more data: ACE, DSCOVR
Updated: Today at 2350 UT
Coronal Holes: 20 Aug 19


A coronal hole is emerging over the sun's eastern limb. It's the same hole that strobed Earth with solar wind on August 5th, sparking G1-class geomagnetic storms
. Credit: SDO/AIA

Noctilucent Clouds They're back! After a 1-month hiatus due to a spacecraft anomaly, noctilucent cloud images from AIM have been restored. There are still lots of clouds around the Arctic Circle despite the fact that it's August when the season usually ends.
Switch view: Europe, USA, Asia, Polar
Updated at: 08-20-2019 13:55:03
SPACE WEATHER
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2019 Aug 20 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: 2019 Aug 20 2200 UTC
Mid-latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
ACTIVE
10 %
05 %
MINOR
01 %
01 %
SEVERE
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
ACTIVE
15 %
20 %
MINOR
15 %
15 %
SEVERE
15 %
05 %
 
Tuesday, Aug. 20, 2019
What's up in space
       
 

Special Offer: SAVE 600nok per person. Book a combination aurora borealis chase and scenic day tour during the months of September, October or November 2019 for the special price of 1800 kr. Check Marianne's webpage for details!

 

NOCTILUCENT CLOUD IMAGES: They're back. Daily images of noctilucent clouds (NLCs) from NASA's AIM spacecraft have been restored to Spaceweather.com. A 1-month interuption in the data stream was caused by an anomaly on the spacecraft in July. The latest images (look here) show an abundance of clouds inside the Arctic Circle--remarkable considering that NLC season is usually finished by mid-August. Thus continues a record-setting year for noctilucent clouds. Browse: NLC Photo Gallery.

RED SPRITES AND TROLLS: If you've been paying attention to space weather in recent years, you've probably heard of sprites--exotic forms of lightning that leap up from powerful thunderstorms, reaching toward the edge of space. Now let us introduce you to trolls. Trolls are sprite-like tadpoles of light that sometimes follow sprites into the upper reaches of the atmosphere. On Aug. 12th, Martin Popek of Nýdek, Czechia, photographed these specimens:

"I captured them on two cameras," says Popek. "The leaped up from a big storm across the border in Poland."

Short for "Transient Red Optical Luminous Lineaments," trolls are occasionally observed alongside big clusters of sprites, and they can ascend 40 km to 60 km high. Why do they form? Sprites can actually pull Earth's ionosphere down toward the thunderstorm. When the gap shrinks, and the local electric field intensifies, trolls appear. It's another thing to look for above the clouds.

Realtime Sprite Photo Gallery
Free: Spaceweather.com Newsletter

DOUBLE DRONE-BOW: To see a rainbow, all you need are sunlight and falling rain. Correction: that's all you need to see half a rainbow. Typical rainbows are at least 50% hidden below the horizon. To see more, you also need a drone:

"After a rainstorm yesterday, I launched my drone," says Piotr Wieczorek of Opławiec, Poland. "As it ascended, an almost-full circle rainbow appeared. I took this picture using the onboard GoPro camera."

Rainbows always appear directly opposite the sun. As the drone rose above the physical horizon, the rainbow did, too. With only a little more lift, the circle would have been complete.

The drone view illustrates another common yet frequently overlooked aspect of rainbows. They are double. The interior or "primary rainbow" is caused by one reflection inside raindrops. The exterior or "secondary rainbow" is caused by two reflections. A double drone bow is a rare sight indeed.

Realtime Space Weather Photo Gallery
Free: Spaceweather.com Newsletter

APOLLO 11 PROOF SILVER DOLLARS: The students of Earth to Sky Calculus weren't even born when Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed on the Moon in 1969 years ago. Nevertheless, they "get it." On July 20th, the students launched 50 Apollo 11 silver dollars to the stratosphere onboard a cosmic ray balloon. The coins touched the edge of space 50 years to the day after Neil and Buzz made footprints in the Sea of Tranquillity:

You can have one for $197.95. The students are selling these coins to support their cosmic ray ballooning program. Quantities are limited and more than half have already been sold. Each one comes with a greeting card showing the item in flight and telling the story of its journey to the edge of space.

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


Realtime Aurora Photo Gallery
Free:
Spaceweather.com Newsletter

  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 Aug. 20, 2019, the network reported 28 fireballs.
(20 sporadics, 8 Perseids)

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 August 20, 2019 there were 1983 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Recent & Upcoming Earth-asteroid encounters:
Asteroid
Date(UT)
Miss Distance
Velocity (km/s)
Diameter (m)
2019 PJ
2019-Aug-16
8.8 LD
14.2
60
2018 PN22
2019-Aug-17
17.1 LD
2.3
11
2019 PK
2019-Aug-18
11 LD
7.4
30
2016 PD1
2019-Aug-26
11.3 LD
5.9
65
2002 JR100
2019-Aug-27
19.4 LD
8.4
49
2019 OU1
2019-Aug-28
2.7 LD
13
98
2019 OF2
2019-Sep-03
18.3 LD
10.7
53
2018 DE1
2019-Sep-03
12.7 LD
6.6
28
2019 GT3
2019-Sep-06
19.5 LD
13.6
227
2010 RM82
2019-Sep-13
18.2 LD
14.6
23
2013 CV83
2019-Sep-13
15.7 LD
13.1
62
504800
2019-Sep-14
13.9 LD
14.4
155
467317
2019-Sep-14
13.9 LD
6.4
389
2019 JF1
2019-Sep-16
11.2 LD
4.3
61
2018 FU1
2019-Sep-16
18.4 LD
4.7
16
2017 SL16
2019-Sep-21
7.9 LD
6.5
25
2017 SM21
2019-Sep-21
11.5 LD
9.6
20
523934
2019-Sep-24
10.9 LD
22.3
257
2017 KP27
2019-Sep-26
6.2 LD
4.8
25
2006 QV89
2019-Sep-27
18.1 LD
4.1
31
2018 FK5
2019-Oct-01
13.3 LD
10.5
8
2018 LG4
2019-Oct-02
13.8 LD
8.1
12
2017 TJ4
2019-Oct-05
13.5 LD
8.9
32
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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