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SpaceWeather.com -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
 
Solar wind
speed: 460.7 km/sec
density: 6.0 protons/cm3
more data: ACE, DSCOVR
Updated: Today at 2347 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A0
2024 UT Feb09
24-hr: A0
1447 UT Feb09
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2300 UT
Daily Sun: 09 Feb 19
The sun is blank--no sunspots. Credit: SDO/HMI

Sunspot number: 0
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 09 Feb 2019

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 9 days
2019 total: 23 days (58%)
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 09 Feb 2019


Thermosphere Climate Index
today: 3.80
x1010 W Cold
Max: 49.4
x1010 W Hot (10/1957)
Min: 2.05
x1010 W Cold (02/2009)
explanation | more data
Updated 09 Feb 2019

The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 70 sfu
explanation | more data
Updated 08 Feb 2019

Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
Credit: NOAA/Ovation
Planetary K-index
Now: Kp= 3 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 3
quiet
explanation | more data
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 3.5 nT
Bz: -2.8 nT south
more data: ACE, DSCOVR
Updated: Today at 2346 UT
Coronal Holes: 09 Feb 19

Solar wind flowing from this southern coronal hole should reach Earth on Feb. 9th. 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:
SPACE WEATHER
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2019 Feb 09 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 Feb 09 2200 UTC
Mid-latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
ACTIVE
30 %
10 %
MINOR
10 %
01 %
SEVERE
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
ACTIVE
15 %
20 %
MINOR
30 %
20 %
SEVERE
30 %
10 %
 
Saturday, Feb. 9, 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!

 

WEEKEND AURORA WATCH: Earth is entering a stream of solar wind flowing from a southern hole in the sun's atmosphere. Wind speeds are expected to top 500 km/s over the weekend. Arctic sky watchers should be alert for auroras on Feb. 9th and 10th as Earth passes through the stream. Aurora Alerts: SMS text, email.

A VISITOR FROM BEYOND THE KUIPER BELT: Comet Iwamoto (C/2018 Y1) is coming. On Feb. 12th and 13th, the dirty snowball will make a rare visit to the inner solar system, passing by our planet only 0.3 AU (45 million km) away. Here it is, approaching Earth on Feb. 7th from the constellation Virgo:

Amateur astronomer Michael Jäger made the 41-minute movie at his private observatory in Jauerling, Austria. At the time, Comet Iwamoto was crossing the celestial equator, so there are many streaks in the movie from geostationary satellites. (Update: A new movie from Jäger shows even more satellites including one satellite flare.)

Discovered in Dec. 2018 by Japanese amateur astronomer Masayuki Iwamoto, this comet is a visitor from beyond the Kuiper Belt. It comes from the realm of Extreme Trans-Neptunian Objects (ETNOs) more than 5 times as far from the sun as Pluto. This means it could be a relative of other ETNOS such as Sedna, 2012 VP113 ("Biden"), and 2015 TG387 ("Goblin").

Comet Iwamoto doesn't visit us very often. Following a highly elliptical 1371-year orbit, its last passage through the inner solar system was around 648 AD (unrecorded), and its next won't happen until 3390 AD. Therefore, if you want to see the comet, now is the time to look.


Above: Click to view an interactive 3D orbit of Comet Iwamoto, courtesy of NASA/JPL

Shining with an astronomical magnitude of +6.5, the comet is invisible to the unaided eye. Nevertheless, it will be an easy target for backyard telescopes in the nights ahead as it glides through the constellation Leo the Lion high in the midnight sky. If you have a GOTO telescope, use this ephemeris to point your optics--and submit your images here.

Realtime Comet Photo Gallery

VALENTINE'S GIFTS FROM THE EDGE OF SPACE: Valentine's Day is only 9 days away. Nothing says "I love you" like a gift from the edge of space. Everything in the Earth to Sky Store is 10% off from now until Feb. 14th:

Everything in the store has been flown to the stratosphere onboard cosmic ray balloons, which the students of Earth to Sky Calculus launch approximately once a week to monitor atmospheric radiation. All sales support our cosmic ray ballooning program and help launch young scientists into research careers through hands-on STEM education.

Far Out Gifts: Earth to Sky Store
All sales support 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 Feb. 9, 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 February 9, 2019 there were 1947 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Recent & Upcoming Earth-asteroid encounters:
Asteroid
Date(UT)
Miss Distance
Velocity (km/s)
Diameter (m)
2019 BH1
2019-Feb-03
11.1 LD
21.1
55
2019 BE3
2019-Feb-03
16.8 LD
18.5
48
2019 BH3
2019-Feb-04
14 LD
8.8
26
2019 BK4
2019-Feb-06
4.2 LD
9.2
13
2013 RV9
2019-Feb-06
17.9 LD
5.9
68
2019 BB5
2019-Feb-07
11.1 LD
6.4
16
2019 BA5
2019-Feb-08
13.9 LD
9.1
31
2019 CB2
2019-Feb-10
2.7 LD
13
23
2017 PV25
2019-Feb-12
7.3 LD
6.1
43
2013 MD8
2019-Feb-19
15.1 LD
13.6
51
2019 CY1
2019-Feb-20
3.3 LD
13.3
27
455176
2019-Feb-20
19.2 LD
26.5
269
2016 CO246
2019-Feb-22
15.8 LD
5.5
23
2019 BF1
2019-Feb-24
11.2 LD
9.1
119
2019 CK1
2019-Feb-24
16.4 LD
10.2
32
2019 CJ
2019-Feb-25
7.4 LD
4.8
26
2018 DE1
2019-Feb-27
19.8 LD
6.5
28
2016 FU12
2019-Feb-27
15.4 LD
5.2
15
2019 CW
2019-Mar-04
19.2 LD
11.6
65
2015 EG
2019-Mar-04
1.2 LD
9.6
26
2012 DF31
2019-Mar-09
9.1 LD
15.3
47
2013 EG68
2019-Mar-13
19.3 LD
17
37
2012 VZ19
2019-Mar-13
7.7 LD
8
27
2016 GE1
2019-Apr-04
3.9 LD
10.1
17
2014 UR
2019-Apr-09
13 LD
4.6
17
2016 GW221
2019-Apr-09
10.1 LD
5.3
39
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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