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SpaceWeather.com -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
 
Solar wind
speed: 367.6 km/sec
density: 9.9 protons/cm3
more data: ACE, DSCOVR
Updated: Today at 2348 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A0
2121 UT Feb20
24-hr: A9
0424 UT Feb20
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2300 UT
Daily Sun: 20 Feb 19
The sun is blank--no sunspots. Credit: SDO/HMI

Sunspot number: 0
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 20 Feb 2019

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 20 days
2019 total: 34 days (67%)
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 20 Feb 2019


Thermosphere Climate Index
today: 3.90
x1010 W Cold
Max: 49.4
x1010 W Hot (10/1957)
Min: 2.05
x1010 W Cold (02/2009)
explanation | more data
Updated 20 Feb 2019

The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 70 sfu
explanation | more data
Updated 20 Feb 2019

Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
Credit: NOAA/Ovation
Planetary K-index
Now: Kp= 2 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 2
quiet
explanation | more data
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 7.6 nT
Bz: 0.3 nT north
more data: ACE, DSCOVR
Updated: Today at 2345 UT
Coronal Holes: 20 Feb 19

Solar wind flowing from this equator-crossing coronal hole should reach Earth on Feb. 20th or 21st. 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: 02-20-2019 15:55:03
SPACE WEATHER
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2019 Feb 20 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 20 2200 UTC
Mid-latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
ACTIVE
30 %
15 %
MINOR
15 %
05 %
SEVERE
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
ACTIVE
15 %
20 %
MINOR
30 %
25 %
SEVERE
40 %
20 %
 
Wednesday, Feb. 20, 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!

 

GEOMAGNETIC ACTIVITY PREDICTED: A stream of solar wind is about to hit Earth's magnetic field. Estimated time of arrival: Feb. 20th or 21st. The gaseous material is flowing from a canyon-shaped hole in the sun's atmosphere. Arctic sky watchers can expect minor geomagnetic storms and auroras mixed with bright moonlight when the fast-moving stream arrives. Aurora Alerts: SMS text, email.

MOLTEN SNOW MOON: According to folklore, last night's full Moon was the "Snow Moon." When it rose over Lake Superior, however, it looked more like molten lava. Thomas Spence of Tofte, MN, photographed the moonrise:

"There was great atmospheric distortion," says Spence. "Ice piles and open water added to the fantastic scene."

This is an 'inferior mirage', caused by a layer of relatively warm air just above the lake's surface. A temperature gradient in the air--warmer near the open water and cooler above--created an upside-down image of the Moon below the actual Moon. The two images, reddened by the filtering effect of the low atmosphere, merged into a molten shape.

The mirage is also known as an 'Etruscan vase mirage,' so-called by Jules Verne, and an 'omega mirage' after its resemblance to the last letter of the Greek alphabet.

Realtime Space Weather Photo Gallery

MERCURY AT SUNSET: Tonight, right after the sun goes down, step outside and look west into the sunset. "Mercury is returning to the evening sky!" reports Piotr Majewski of Piwnice, Poland. He took this picture of the innermost planet shining just above the 32-meter radio telescope at the Toruń Centre for Astronomy:

Mercury is normally overwhelmed by the sun, but as February comes to a close, Mercury is emerging from the glare. The view will improve every night for the rest of the month as the planet climbs higher in the sunset sky, reaching a maximum elongation (distance from the sun) of 18 degrees on Feb. 27-28.

The best time to look is 30 to 45 minutes after sunset. Mercury often has a pink or orange hue, as it is filtered by the same low atmosphere that gives the sunset its colors. Scanning the horizon with binoculars can help you locate it. Once found, Mercury is easy to see with the unaided eye.

Realtime Space Weather Photo Gallery

SPACE WEATHER ALERTS: Spaceweather.com is proud to announce our new and improved space weather alert system. Sign up now and you'll never miss another solar storm in 2019. Subscribers receive instant text messages when there are solar flares, geomagnetic storms, and CMEs about to strike Earth. And if you sign up for the PRO PLAN, you'll receive a type of alert available no where else--"Magnetic Crack" alerts. Keep reading after the graphic to learn more:

PRO PLAN subscribers get a text message whenever a crack is opening in Earth's magnetosphere. Magnetic cracks are caused by south-pointing magnetic fields ("BsubZ") in the solar wind, which partially cancel Earth's magnetic defenses. Solar wind pours in through these cracks to fuel bright auroras and geomagnetic storms. Veteran aurora chasers know that watching "BsubZ" is the best way to anticipate geomagnetic activity. Now your cell phone can do this job for you, alerting you when cracks are forming in the invisible magnetic field overhead.

Get started for as little as $4.95 per month.

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


Realtime Comet 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. 20, 2019, the network reported 14 fireballs.
(14 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 20, 2019 there were 1967 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Recent & Upcoming Earth-asteroid encounters:
Asteroid
Date(UT)
Miss Distance
Velocity (km/s)
Diameter (m)
2019 CS5
2019-Feb-15
1.1 LD
6.6
24
2019 CG5
2019-Feb-16
6 LD
8.9
15
2013 MD8
2019-Feb-19
15.1 LD
13.6
51
2019 CY1
2019-Feb-20
3.3 LD
13.3
26
455176
2019-Feb-20
19.2 LD
26.5
269
2016 CO246
2019-Feb-22
15.8 LD
5.5
23
2019 CK5
2019-Feb-23
13.4 LD
8.9
20
2019 BF1
2019-Feb-24
11.2 LD
9.1
118
2019 CK1
2019-Feb-24
16.5 LD
10.2
32
2019 CJ
2019-Feb-25
7.4 LD
4.8
26
2019 CF4
2019-Feb-26
15.6 LD
3.7
14
2018 DE1
2019-Feb-27
19.8 LD
6.5
28
2016 FU12
2019-Feb-27
15.4 LD
5.2
15
2019 CT4
2019-Mar-02
6 LD
12
55
2019 CX4
2019-Mar-04
18.5 LD
7
29
2019 CW
2019-Mar-04
19.2 LD
11.6
63
2015 EG
2019-Mar-04
1.2 LD
9.6
26
2012 DF31
2019-Mar-09
9.1 LD
15.3
47
2019 CM4
2019-Mar-11
13.8 LD
12.1
93
2013 EG68
2019-Mar-13
19.3 LD
17
37
2012 VZ19
2019-Mar-13
7.7 LD
8
27
2019 CL2
2019-Mar-18
10.2 LD
7.5
68
2019 CD5
2019-Mar-20
10.2 LD
17
128
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
2012 XO134
2019-Apr-18
14.8 LD
11
56
522684
2019-Apr-19
19 LD
11.5
214
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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