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SpaceWeather.com -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
 
Solar wind
speed: 357.2 km/sec
density: 4.4 protons/cm3
more data: ACE, DSCOVR
Updated: Today at 2348 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A3
1823 UT Oct12
24-hr: B7
1408 UT Oct12
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2300 UT
Daily Sun: 12 Oct 18
A new sunspot is growing at the circled location, but it has not yet been numbered. Credit: SDO/HMI

Sunspot number: 0
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 12 Oct 2018

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 0 days
2018 total: 165 days (58%)
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 12 Oct 2018


The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 71 sfu
explanation | more data
Updated 12 Oct 2018

Current Auroral Oval:
Note to readers from Dr. Tony Phillips: "The current auroral oval is not updating properly. I have figured out the problem and am programming a solution. Normal updates should resume later this week. Apologies for any inconvenience!"
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
Credit: NOAA/Ovation
Planetary K-index
Now: Kp= 1 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 2
quiet
explanation | more data
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 4.4 nT
Bz: 0.6 nT north
more data: ACE, DSCOVR
Updated: Today at 2346 UT
Coronal Holes: 12 Oct 18

Solar wind flowing from this large coronal hole should reach Earth on Oct 14. Credit: SDO/AIA
Noctilucent Clouds The season for noctilucent clouds (NLCs) in the northern hemisphere has come to an end. Images from NASA's AIM spacecraft show no NLCs around the north pole.
Switch view: Europe, USA, Asia, Polar
Updated at: 09-03-2018 14:55:02
SPACE WEATHER
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2018 Oct 12 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: 2018 Oct 12 2200 UTC
Mid-latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
ACTIVE
10 %
25 %
MINOR
01 %
05 %
SEVERE
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
ACTIVE
15 %
15 %
MINOR
20 %
30 %
SEVERE
20 %
30 %
 
Friday, Oct. 12, 2018
What's up in space
       
 

Lights Over Lapland has a brand-new website full of exciting adventures in Abisko National Park, Sweden! Take a look at our aurora activities and book your once-in-a-lifetime trip with us today!

 

DRACONID METEOR OUTBURST: European sky watchers got a big surprise on the night of Oct. 8-9 when a flurry of faint meteors filled the northern sky. "It was an outburst of the annual Draconid meteor shower," reports Jure Atanackov, a member of the International Meteor Organization who witnessed the display over Dolenja vas, Slovenia. The Draconid peak is normally weak, numbering no more than ~5 meteors per hour. During the outburst, rates were at least 20 times greater than normal--boosted perhaps by the recent close approach of parent comet 21P/Giacobini-Zinner. "All in all a rare and impressive event!" says Atanackov. Browse: Meteor Photo Gallery.

SPACE LIGHTNING OVER TEXAS: Northern Fall has arrived. But in West Texas thunderstorms are crackling like it's mid-summer. On October 6th, a powerful squall line swept across Texas, strafing the landscape with bolts of lightning and shooting jellyfish sprites up toward the edge of space. Paul Smith photographed these specimens 165 miles away from the storm in Minco, Oklahoma:

"The sprites were fantastic," says Smith. "I photographed quite a few through gaps in clouds before the sky became completely overcast."

Sprites are an exotic form of upward-directed lightning--sometimes called "space lightning" because their tendrils can extend to the very top of Earth's atmosphere. You have to be far away to see them over the edges of towering thunderclouds. Smith's distance of 165 miles was just right: map.

Meanwhile, on the opposite side of the storm, Thomas Ashcraft photographed the same sprites a similar distance away in New Mexico:

"In addition to the sprites, you can also see faint red ripples of light in the atmosphere behind them," points out Ashcraft. Those are "gravity waves"--literally, the ripple effect of the thunderstorm on the mesosphere some 80 km above Earth's surface. From space, these waves look like a giant atmospheric bull's eye. Gravity waves often appear in the backgrounds of sprite photos because both phenomena spring from the same source--powerful thunderstorms.

"Despite the coming of Fall, we are still seeing a lot of electrical activity in our part of the USA," says Ashcraft. "The past couple of weeks have produced some very dynamic conditions." Browse the sprite photo gallery for more examples.

Realtime Sprite Photo Gallery

CRYSTAL BALL IN THE STRATOSPHERE: The holidays are coming! To get ready for gift-giving, the students of Earth to Sky Calculus launched a Solar System crystal ball to the stratosphere. Watch the video as the orb travels onboard a giant helium balloon 93,000 feet above Earth's surface, stretching, focusing, and inverting the incredible landscape of the Sierra Nevada mountains behind it:

You can have it for $229. The students are selling these crystal balls to raise funds for their cosmic ray ballooning program. The 800 gram sphere contains an embedded model of the Solar System, including the sun, eight planets and their moons. It makes an incredible gift for anyone interested in space.

Each crystal ball comes with a unique gift card showing the item at the edge of space and telling the story of its flight. All proceeds support Earth to Sky Calculus and hands-on STEM research.

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 Oct. 12, 2018, the network reported 11 fireballs.
(9 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 12, 2018 there were 1923 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Recent & Upcoming Earth-asteroid encounters:
Asteroid
Date(UT)
Miss Distance
Velocity (km/s)
Diameter (m)
2018 EB
2018-Oct-07
15.5 LD
15.1
155
2018 TT4
2018-Oct-07
5.2 LD
14.5
39
2018 TV
2018-Oct-07
0.7 LD
8.5
7
2018 TF2
2018-Oct-07
7.5 LD
11.1
18
2018 TY4
2018-Oct-07
1.5 LD
11.1
9
2018 TY1
2018-Oct-08
8.1 LD
10.6
21
2018 SG3
2018-Oct-08
6.7 LD
5.9
14
2018 TG2
2018-Oct-08
1.3 LD
7.6
5
2018 TE2
2018-Oct-08
1.3 LD
13.5
8
2018 TM3
2018-Oct-08
3.6 LD
4.3
4
2018 TA2
2018-Oct-09
10.7 LD
4.9
14
2018 SM2
2018-Oct-10
11.4 LD
10.1
89
2018 TC2
2018-Oct-10
16.4 LD
8.3
22
2018 TN3
2018-Oct-10
6.7 LD
7.3
8
2018 TS4
2018-Oct-11
5.2 LD
2.3
11
2018 TR4
2018-Oct-11
6.9 LD
11
36
2018 TD2
2018-Oct-12
12.9 LD
11.2
18
2018 TQ3
2018-Oct-12
10.5 LD
7.4
14
2018 TU4
2018-Oct-15
14.2 LD
11
28
2018 SL3
2018-Oct-15
9.1 LD
13.4
34
2018 TS1
2018-Oct-15
6.6 LD
10.9
24
2018 TZ2
2018-Oct-16
9.1 LD
16.7
41
2014 US7
2018-Oct-17
3.2 LD
8.7
19
2013 UG1
2018-Oct-18
10.4 LD
13.4
123
2016 GC221
2018-Oct-18
8.7 LD
14.4
39
475534
2018-Oct-29
7.5 LD
18.1
204
2002 VE68
2018-Nov-04
14.7 LD
8.6
282
2018 TF3
2018-Nov-05
7.8 LD
20.5
306
2010 VQ
2018-Nov-07
15.6 LD
3.8
10
2009 WB105
2018-Nov-25
15.2 LD
18.9
71
2008 WD14
2018-Nov-27
7.4 LD
9.3
93
2001 WO15
2018-Nov-28
13.6 LD
11.7
107
2013 VX4
2018-Dec-09
4.1 LD
6.6
65
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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