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SpaceWeather.com -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
 
Solar wind
speed: 334.5 km/sec
density: 9.4 protons/cm3
more data: ACE, DSCOVR
Updated: Today at 2347 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A8
2011 UT May03
24-hr: B1
0324 UT May03
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2300 UT
Daily Sun: 03 May 17
New sunspot AR2654 is growing rapidly, but so far poses no threat for strong solar flares. Credit: SDO/HMI

Sunspot number: 25
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 03 May 2017

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 0 days
2017 total: 30 days (25%)
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 03 May 2017


The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 77 sfu
explanation | more data
Updated 03 May 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: 3.1 nT
Bz: 1.1 nT north
more data: ACE, DSCOVR
Updated: Today at 2346 UT
Coronal Holes: 03 May 17

There are no large coronal holes on the Earth side of the sun. Credit: NASA/SDO.
Noctilucent Clouds The southern season for noctilucent clouds began on Nov. 17, 2016. Come back to this spot every day to see the "daily daisy" from NASA's AIM spacecraft, which is monitoring the dance of electric-blue around the Antarctic Circle.
Switch view: Ross Ice Shelf, Antarctic Peninsula, East Antarctica, Polar
Updated at: 02-24-2017 17:55:02
SPACE WEATHER
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2017 May 03 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 May 03 2200 UTC
Mid-latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
ACTIVE
30 %
15 %
MINOR
10 %
05 %
SEVERE
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
ACTIVE
15 %
15 %
MINOR
30 %
20 %
SEVERE
40 %
20 %
 
Wednesday, May. 3, 2017
What's up in space
       
 

Lights Over lapland is excited to announce that Autumn Aurora Adventures are available for immediate booking! Reserve your adventure of a lifetime in Abisko National Park, Sweden today!

 

MINOR MAGNETIC STORM POSSIBLE TODAY: A filament of magnetism on the sun exploded on April 30th, hurling a CME into space. NOAA analysts say the cloud could deliver a glancing blow to Earth's magnetic field on May 3rd with a 40% chance of minor geomagnetic storms following the impact. High-latitude sky watchers should be alert for auroras, especially in the southern hemisphere where darkening autumn skies favor visibility. Free: Aurora Alerts

HYPERBOLIC COMET JOHNSON: Discovered in November 2015 by Jess Johnson of the Catalina Sky Survey, Comet Johnson (C/2015 V2) is now swinging through the inner solar system on a hyperbolic orbit. A "hyperbolic orbit" means the sun's gravity will probably fling the comet into deep space later this year. Now is the time to look. Amateur astronomer Rolando Ligustri used a remotely controlled telescope in New Mexico to photograph the comet on May 1st:

Ligustri's 2 x 10 minute exposure with a 4-inch telescope reveals the comet's green nucleus and its double tail. The longer of the two is the filamentary ion tail, made of gas carried directly away from the sun by the solar wind. The shorter protuberance is the bright dust tail, made of dusty-rocky grains sprinkled like crumbs along the comet's orbit. Comet Johnson's nucleus is green because it contains diatomic carbon (C2) a substance that glows with a verdant hue in the near vacuum of space.

This comet is not visible to the naked eye, but as it approaches Earth for a 0.81 AU close encounter in early June, it is brightening to ~6th magnitude, making it an easy target for backyard telescopes. Northern hemisphere observers are favored in early May, when the comet dwells in the constellation Hercules; in late May and June, Comet Johnson races toward southern skies, where observers south of the equator can watch the comet continue its journey toward the sun. Resources: sky maps, 3D orbit, magnitudes.

Realtime Comet Photo Gallery

DONALD DUCK MIRAGE: Sunset photographers witness many different kind of mirages as the solar disk sinks below the waves: the inferior mirage, the Etruscan vase mirage, the green flash. On May 2nd, Marcella Giulia Pace of Marina di Ragusa, Sicily, witnessed something new. Behold, the Donald Duck mirage:

"What can I say?" says Pace. "It looked like a duck!"

The technical name for this well-known apparition is "mock mirage."  It occurs when one or more temperature inversion layers form above the water's surface.  These layers cut the sun into horizontal slices, each slice stressed or compressed according to the refractive properties of the inversion layer.  In this case, it turned the sun into a Disney character.

Sometimes, mock mirages end with a series of green and blue flashes. Read more about them here.

Realtime Space Weather Photo Gallery

THESE PENDANTS HAVE TOUCHED SPACE: These pendants have touched space--and returned to Earth in time for Mother's Day. To support their cosmic ray monitoring program, the students of Earth to Sky Calculus flew a payload-full of jewelry to the stratosphere onboard a high-altitude helium balloon. Here's one of the pendants 113,200 feet above the Sierras of central California:

These necklaces make great Mother's Day gifts--and you have have one for $89.95. Each glittering pendant comes with a greeting card showing the jewelry in flight and telling the story of its journey to the stratosphere and back again.

More far-out Mother's Day gifts may be found in the Earth to Sky Store. All proceeds support atmospheric radiation monitoring and hands-on STEM education.

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 May. 3, 2017, the network reported 18 fireballs.
(12 sporadics, 4 eta Aquariids, 1 eta Lyrid, 1 April rho Cygnid)

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 May 3, 2017 there were 1799 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Recent & Upcoming Earth-asteroid encounters:
Asteroid
Date(UT)
Miss Distance
Velocity (km/s)
Diameter (m)
2017 HW2
2017-Apr-27
9.2 LD
9.1
18
2017 FE157
2017-Apr-29
18.4 LD
8.6
63
2017 HK1
2017-May-05
16.9 LD
2.6
38
2015 VD1
2017-May-07
18.2 LD
10.5
34
2012 EC
2017-May-16
19.5 LD
4.5
74
2017 CS
2017-May-29
8 LD
9.1
468
418094
2017-Jun-01
8 LD
23.2
490
2010 VB1
2017-Jun-16
10.3 LD
8.3
81
471984
2017-Jun-18
19.1 LD
7.7
102
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 12% 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
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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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