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SpaceWeather.com -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
 
Solar wind
speed: 328.9 km/sec
density: 3.3 protons/cm3
more data: ACE, DSCOVR
Updated: Today at 2206 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: B1
1838 UT Jan02
24-hr: B2
0150 UT Jan02
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2300 UT
Daily Sun: 02 Jan 19
Sunspot AR2732 is a member of decaying Solar Cycle 24 and poses no threat for strong solar flsres. Credit: SDO/HMI

Sunspot number: 13
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 01 Jan 2019

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 0 days
2019 total: 0 days (0%)
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 02 Jan 2019


Thermosphere Climate Index
today: 3.67
x1010 W Cold
Max: 49.4
x1010 W Hot (10/1957)
Min: 2.05
x1010 W Cold (02/2009)
explanation | more data
Updated 02 Jan 2019

The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 72 sfu
explanation | more data
Updated 02 Jan 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= 1
quiet
explanation | more data
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 2.5 nT
Bz: -1.3 nT south
more data: ACE, DSCOVR
Updated: Today at 2206 UT
Coronal Holes: 02 Jan 19

Solar wind flowing from this coronal hole should reach Earth on Jan. 4th or 5th. Credit: SDO/AIA
Noctilucent Clouds The southern season for noctilucent clouds (NLCs) has begun! NASA's AIM spacecraft is detecting electric blue clouds at the edge of space over Antarctica.
Switch view: Europe, USA, Asia, Polar
Updated at: 01-02-2019 18:55:03
SPACE WEATHER
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2019 Jan 02 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 Jan 02 2200 UTC
Mid-latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
ACTIVE
10 %
25 %
MINOR
01 %
10 %
SEVERE
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
ACTIVE
15 %
15 %
MINOR
20 %
30 %
SEVERE
10 %
40 %
 
Wednesday, Jan. 2, 2019
What's up in space
       
 

Solar minimum is here - but even now strangely beautiful auroras are dancing around the poles. Deep inside the Arctic Circle, the expert guides of Aurora Holidays in Utsjoki, Finland, can help you chase them. Book now!

 

SOLAR WIND, INCOMING: On Jan. 4th and 5th, high-speed solar wind flowing from a large hole in the sun's atmosphere will hit Earth's magnetic field. Minor geomagnetic storms and Arctic auroras are likely when the gaseous material arrives. Aurora visibility will be boosted by the dark skies of a New Moon. Free: Aurora Alerts

FIRST IMAGES OF ULTIMA THULE: The first high-resolution images of Ultima Thule have reached Earth following New Horizons' historic flyby on New Year's Day. Hot off the presses, the photos reveal a pair of roughly spherical planetestimals stuck together in the middle. The contact binary strangely resembles BB-8:

"This flyby is a historic achievement," says New Horizons Principal Investigator Alan Stern of the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado. "Never before has any spacecraft team tracked down such a small body so far away in the abyss of space. We're getting our first close-up look at ancient planetesimals."

Planetestimals are the building blocks of planets. Here in the inner solar system, no pristine examples remain for us to study. They have been swallowed by planets, hammered by asteroids, and scorched by solar radiation. Ultima Thule, however, has been preserved in the deep freeze of the outer solar system for more than 4 billion years. It is truly a relic of the genesis of planets.

Mission scientists believe that Ultima Thule formed by accretion. A swarm of smaller planetesimals gathered under the pull of their own meagre gravity to form two spherical bodies, medium-sized planetesimals which themselves slowly bumped together and stuck. The result was Ultima Thule.

This is just the beginning of Ultima Thule's revelations. First images released today have a resolution of about 140 meters per pixel. Images arriving in the days and weeks ahead will be as much as 5 times sharper, possibly revealing craters, hills, landslides, rilles and other unknowns.

New Horizons also scanned the area for tiny moons--the debris of the original swarm that gave birth to this strange object. Detections, if any, will be revealed in future transmissions from the spacecraft. Stay tuned!

Browse: Slides from today's science briefing and the latest images from New Horizons

Realtime Space Weather Photo Gallery

GIFTS FROM THE EDGE OF SPACE: The students of Earth to Sky Calculus are about to kick off a new year of cosmic ray balloon launches, continuing a 5-year campaign to monitor increasing levels of radiation in Earth's atmosphere. You can help. Buy any gift item from the Earth to Sky Store and we'll give you 10% off to celebrate the New Year.

All items in the Earth to Sky Store have flown to the edge of space onboard cosmic ray balloons. Each one comes with a greeting card showing the item in flight and telling the story of its journey. All sales support the Earth to Sky Calculus cosmic ray ballooning program and hands-on STEM research.

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

THE FIRST AURORAS OF 2019: The first auroras of 2019 have been sighted in Finland. "Happy New Year to the readers of Spaceweather.com!" says Rayann Elzein who sends this picture from Inari in the Finnish Lapland:

"The lights appeared at half past midnight on Jan. 1-2," says Elzein, "They coincided almost perfectly with an episode of negative Bz."  In other words, a crack opened in Earth's magnetic field. A weak stream of solar wind poured through the gap, fueling the display.

An even better display is in the offing. On Jan. 4th and 5th, high-speed solar wind flowing from a large hole in the sun's atmosphere will hit Earth's magnetic field. Bright Arctic auroras are a near certainty, boosted in visibility by the dark skies of a New Moon. 2019 is off to a good start. Free: Aurora Alerts

Realtime Aurora Photo Gallery


Realtime Comet 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 Jan. 1, 2019, the network reported 10 fireballs.
(10 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 January 2, 2019 there were 1947 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Recent & Upcoming Earth-asteroid encounters:
Asteroid
Date(UT)
Miss Distance
Velocity (km/s)
Diameter (m)
2018 YL2
2018-Dec-27
0.2 LD
11.9
5
2018 YM2
2018-Dec-31
6.4 LD
11.3
42
2014 AD16
2019-Jan-04
12.9 LD
9.4
12
2018 XO4
2019-Jan-06
7.8 LD
4
31
2016 AZ8
2019-Jan-07
11.6 LD
9.1
224
2013 YM2
2019-Jan-09
7.3 LD
4.3
20
2018 XN
2019-Jan-14
11.9 LD
5.6
59
2013 CW32
2019-Jan-29
13.9 LD
16.4
148
2013 RV9
2019-Feb-06
17.9 LD
5.9
68
2017 PV25
2019-Feb-12
7.3 LD
6.1
43
455176
2019-Feb-20
19.2 LD
26.5
269
2016 CO246
2019-Feb-22
15.8 LD
5.5
23
2018 DE1
2019-Feb-27
19.8 LD
6.5
28
2016 FU12
2019-Feb-27
15.4 LD
5.2
15
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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