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SpaceWeather.com -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
 
Solar wind
speed: 358.4 km/sec
density: 4.3 protons/cm3
more data: ACE, DSCOVR
Updated: Today at 2348 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A1
1827 UT Oct24
24-hr: A1
1119 UT Oct24
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2300 UT
Daily Sun: 24 Oct 18
The sun is blank--no sunspots. Credit: SDO/HMI

Sunspot number: 0
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 24 Oct 2018

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 6 days
2018 total: 172 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 24 Oct 2018


The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 72 sfu
explanation | more data
Updated 24 Oct 2018

Current Auroral Oval:
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: 2.9 nT
Bz: -2.3 nT south
more data: ACE, DSCOVR
Updated: Today at 2346 UT
Coronal Holes: 24 Oct 18

Solar wind flowing from this large coronal hole could reach Earth on Oct. 24th. 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 24 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 24 2200 UTC
Mid-latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
ACTIVE
15 %
15 %
MINOR
01 %
01 %
SEVERE
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
ACTIVE
15 %
15 %
MINOR
25 %
25 %
SEVERE
20 %
20 %
 
Wednesday, Oct. 24, 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!

 

ARCTIC AURORAS POSSIBLE TONIGHT: An irregular hole in the sun's atmosphere is spewing a stream of solar wind toward Earth. Estimated time of arrival: Oct. 24th. High-latitude sky watchers should be alert for auroras when the gaseous material arrives. A bright full Moon on Oct. 24th will add its luminosity to that of any geomagnetic storm, creating some nice landscape photo-ops around the Arctic Circle. Free: Aurora Alerts.

ATMOSPHERIC COSMIC RAYS ARE INCREASING: So you thought Solar Minimum was boring? Think again. High-altitude balloon flights conducted by Spaceweather.com and Earth to Sky Calculus show that atmospheric radiation is intensifying from coast to coast over the USA--an ironic result of low solar activity. Take a look at the data:


Above: Dose rates at the Regener-Pfotzer Maximum, ~65,000 ft high at the entrance to the stratosphere.

Since 2015, we have been monitoring X-rays, gamma-rays and neutrons in the stratosphere--mainly over central California, but also in a dozen other states (NV, OR, WA, ID, WY, KS, NE, MO, IL, ME, NH, VT). Everywhere we have been there is an upward trend in radiation--ranging from +20% in central California to +33% in Maine. The latest points, circled in red, were gathered during a ballooning campaign in August-October 2018.

How does Solar Minimum boost radiation? The answer lies in the yin-yang relationship between cosmic rays and solar activity. Cosmic rays are the subatomic debris of exploding stars and other violent events. They come at us from all directions, 24/7. Normally, the sun's magnetic field and solar wind hold cosmic rays at bay--but during Solar Minimum these defenses weaken. Deep-space radiation surges into the solar system.


Cosmic rays crashing into our planet's atmosphere produce a spray of secondary particles and photons. That secondary spray is what we measure. Each balloon flight, which typically reaches an altitude greater than 100,00o feet, gives us a complete profile of radiation from ground level to the stratosphere. Our sensors sample energies between 10 keV and 20 MeV, spanning the range of medical X-ray machines, airport security devices, and "killer electrons" in Earth's radiation belts.

Who cares? For starters, anyone who flies. Cosmic radiation at aviation altitudes is typically 50 times that of natural sources at sea level. Pilots are classified as occupational radiation workers by the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP) and, according to a recent study from researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health, flight attendants face an elevated risk of cancer compared to members of the general population. They listed cosmic rays as one of several risk factors. Weather and climate may also be affected, with some research linking cosmic rays to to the formation of clouds and lightning. Finally, there are studies (one recently published in Nature) asserting that heart rate variability and cardiac arrhythmias are affected by cosmic rays in some populations. If true, it means the effects reach all the way to the ground.

As 2018 comes to an end, Solar Minimum appears to be just getting started. Cosmic rays could continue to increase for years to come, so stay tuned. A sharable version of this story is available here.

Realtime Space Weather Photo Gallery

DECLARE YOUR SUPPORT FOR PLUTO: Pluto is a planet. It's obvious, right? Pluto has a large moon, a nitrogen atmosphere, towering mountains, deep canyons, and a geologically active surface. Declare your support for the 9th planet with a "Pluto is a Planet" Space Pendant:

You can have one for $79.95. The students of Earth to Sky Calculus are selling these pendants to support their cosmic ray ballooning program. Each one comes with a greeting card showing the item in flight onboard a balloon, and telling the story of its journey to the edge of space and back.

They make a great gift for rebellious astronomers! All sales support the Earth to Sky Calculus cosmic ray ballooning program and hands-on STEM research.

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


Realtime Venus Photo Gallery


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 Oct. 24, 2018, the network reported 25 fireballs.
(14 sporadics, 6 Orionids, 2 epsilon Geminids, 2 Leonis Minorids, 1 Southern Taurid)

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 24, 2018 there were 1936 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Recent & Upcoming Earth-asteroid encounters:
Asteroid
Date(UT)
Miss Distance
Velocity (km/s)
Diameter (m)
2018 UA
2018-Oct-19
0 LD
14.1
3
2018 US1
2018-Oct-21
2.3 LD
7.1
14
2018 UC2
2018-Oct-23
9.4 LD
19.4
150
2018 UH1
2018-Oct-24
5.3 LD
13
35
2018 TT5
2018-Oct-24
15.9 LD
10.2
29
2018 UE
2018-Oct-25
17.3 LD
16.1
44
475534
2018-Oct-29
7.5 LD
18.1
204
2018 UC
2018-Oct-30
5.4 LD
9.3
22
2018 UY1
2018-Nov-04
7.4 LD
8.3
56
2002 VE68
2018-Nov-04
14.7 LD
8.6
282
2018 TF3
2018-Nov-05
7.8 LD
20.6
302
2010 VQ
2018-Nov-07
15.6 LD
3.8
10
2018 UQ1
2018-Nov-13
9.4 LD
12.3
152
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
2018 TG6
2018-Dec-02
3.9 LD
1.4
13
2013 VX4
2018-Dec-09
4.1 LD
6.6
65
2015 XX169
2018-Dec-13
17 LD
5.8
12
2017 XQ60
2018-Dec-21
11.3 LD
15.6
47
163899
2018-Dec-22
7.4 LD
6.2
1232
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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