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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Solar wind
speed: 360.1 km/sec
density: 12.5 protons/cm3
more data: ACE, DSCOVR
Updated: Today at 2348 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A4
1937 UT Oct10
24-hr: A7
0200 UT Oct10
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2300 UT
Daily Sun: 10 Oct 17
The sun is blank--no sunspots. Credit: SDO/HMI

Sunspot number: 0
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 10 Oct 2017

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 2 days
2017 total: 58 days (21%)
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 10 Oct 2017

The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 72 sfu
explanation | more data
Updated 10 Oct 2017

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
explanation | more data
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 7.1 nT
Bz: -3.1 nT south
more data: ACE, DSCOVR
Updated: Today at 2348 UT
Coronal Holes: 10 Oct 17

Solar wind flowing from the indicated coronal hole could reach Earth late on Oct. 10th or Oct. 11th. Credit: NASA/SDO.
Noctilucent Clouds Latest images from NASA's AIM spacecraft show that the 2017 northern summer season for noctilucent clouds has finished.
Switch view: Europe, USA, Asia, Polar
Updated at: 09-03-2017 01:55:03
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2017 Oct 10 2200 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
01 %
01 %
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 Oct 10 2200 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
35 %
35 %
30 %
30 %
15 %
15 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
05 %
05 %
20 %
20 %
70 %
70 %
Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2017
What's up in space

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GEOMAGNETIC STORM PREDICTED (G1-CLASS): NOAA forecasters say there is a 65% chance of G1-class geomagnetic storms on Oct. 11th when a stream of solar wind makes contact with Earth's magnetic field. The solar wind is flowing from a hole in the sun's atmosphere with peak speeds greater than 600 km/s. Arctic sky watchers should be alert for auroras mixed with waning Harvest moonlight. Free: Aurora Alerts

ASTEROID TO BUZZ EARTH THIS WEEK: When the sun rose over Chelyabinsk, Russia, on Feb. 15, 2013, at first it seemed like an ordinary day. Then the space rock hit. Without warning, the morning sky lit up with a second sun as shock waves shattered windows in hundreds of buildings around the wakening city.

Above: That's not the sun; it's the Chelyabinsk fireball on Feb. 15, 2013. [video]

The impactor flew out of the blue, literally from the direction of the sun where no telescope could see it, and took everyone by surprise. Years later, meteorite hunters are still finding pieces of the "Chelyabinsk asteroid" that rained down after its 17m-wide body disintegrated in the atmosphere.

A similar asteroid is approaching Earth this week, but this time NASA knows its coming. 2012 TC4 measures somewhere between 10 m and 30 m wide, and on Oct. 12th it will pass 43,500 km above our planet's surface, about 1/8th the distance to the Moon. The flyby is so close, Earth's gravity will significantly alter the asteroid's trajectory before it exits the Earth-Moon system.

Above: An artist's concept of the 2012 TC4 near-Earth flyby. [animation]

"We know the orbit of 2012 TC4 well enough to be absolutely certain that it won't hit Earth," says Paul Chodas, manager of the Center for Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS) at JPL,"but we haven't established its exact path just yet."

To get a better handle on the asteroid's orbit (and possible future encounters), an international network of telescopes will monitor 2012 TC4 as it goes by. Pinging the asteroid with its Goldstone radar, NASA hopes to learn much about the space rock's physical properties. The space agency will even exercise some aspects of its planetary defense systems.

This asteroid is too small to see with the naked eye. However, skilled amateur astronomers using 8+ inch telescopes will be able to observe it. At peak brightness, 2012 TC4 will shine like a 13th magnitude star as it zips through the constellations Capricornus and Sagittarius, according to AstroBob, who has detailed observing tips.

Above: 2012 TC4 approaching Earth on Oct. 10th. Photo credit: Mike Olason of Denver CO

Got a picture of 2012 TC4? Submit it here!

WHAT'S WRONG WITH THIS RAINBOW? Last Friday morning, Jon Larsen was driving home east of Spearfish, South Dakota, when he saw a rainbow. "There was something wrong with it," he says. "I grabbed my camera and zoomed in for a closer look." This is what he saw:

"The rainbow's primary red band had separated from the rest!" says Larsen.

What happened? Atmospheric optics expert Les Cowley says there are at least two ways that rainbows can be distorted in this way:

First, by hot air: "This rainbow over Adelaide, Australia, was bent by columns of rising hot city air, but no cities appear to be near Jon Larsen's rainbow," says Cowley.

Second, by mixed-up raindrops: "Rainbows can appear distorted when there are differences in the size of the raindrops along lines of sight to different parts of the bow. Small drops give broader bows."

The second explanation is probably correct. Larsen notes that "strong surface winds were blowing rain shafts around." These strong winds may have segregated raindrops into layers of different size--small drops being blown about more easily than large ones--giving the 'bow a strange appearance, indeed.

Realtime Space Weather Photo Gallery

SOLAR ECLIPSE IN THE STRATOSPHERE: On Aug. 21st during the Great American Solar Eclipse, the students of Earth to Sky Calculus launched 11 space weather balloons from the path of totality. They aimed to photograph the Moon's shadow from the stratosphere--and they succeeded. Looking down from a point more than 100,000 feet above Earth's surface, this GoPro video shows the inky-black shadow of the Moon darkening a 70-mile-wide patch of Wyoming and Nebraska:

This video was assembled and edited by filmmaker Ginger Perez, a founding student member of Earth to Sky Calculus. The payload was sponsored by the Southern Maine Community College with Maine students joining the launch team as space weather balloon "trainees."

Our next solar eclipse mission is already set: We plan to launch space weather balloons from Chile into a total eclipse on July 2, 2019. That one will be a sunset eclipse with the sun low on the horizon during the flight. The teams are looking forward to photographing the Moon's stretched-out shadow fringed by lovely sunset colors. Stay tuned for that!

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

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

On Oct. 10, 2017, the network reported 8 fireballs.
(6 sporadics, 1 Southern Taurid, 1 October delta Aurigid)

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 10, 2017 there were 1843 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Note to readers: A software bug that froze our daily asteroid count in recent months has been found and corrected. The scary numbers are increasing again!
Recent & Upcoming Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
Velocity (km/s)
Diameter (m)
2017 TB
1.1 LD
2017 TH1
16.9 LD
2017 TA
2.7 LD
2017 SN21
9 LD
2017 SB20
9 LD
2017 RV1
17.8 LD
2012 TC4
0.1 LD
2005 TE49
8.5 LD
2013 UM9
17 LD
2006 TU7
18.7 LD
2017 SY20
18.9 LD
2017 SH14
15.3 LD
5.8 LD
2003 UV11
15 LD
8.7 LD
2008 WM61
3.8 LD
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 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, 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 13% 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.
  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
  the underlying science of space weather welcomes two supporters of science communication: SEO Phoenix AZ and CRAS, the Conservatory of Recording Arts and Sciences. Only the best social media jobs in the United States
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