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SpaceWeather.com -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
 
Solar wind
speed: 555.1 km/sec
density: 5.4 protons/cm3
more data: ACE, DSCOVR
Updated: Today at 2347 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A6
1732 UT Aug26
24-hr: A6
1732 UT Aug26
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2300 UT
Daily Sun: 26 Aug 18
After bursting onto the scene yesterday with a profusion of large dark cores, reversed polarity sunspot AR2720 is already starting to decay. Credit: SDO/HMI

Sunspot number: 31
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 26 Aug 2018

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 0 days
2018 total: 132 days (55%)
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 26 Aug 2018


The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 72 sfu
explanation | more data
Updated 26 Aug 2018

Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
Credit: NOAA/Ovation
Planetary K-index
Now: Kp= 5 storm
24-hr max: Kp= 7
strong
explanation | more data
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 5.5 nT
Bz: 1.2 nT north
more data: ACE, DSCOVR
Updated: Today at 2347 UT
Coronal Holes: 26 Aug 18

Solar wind flowing from this northern coronal hole could brush Earth's magnetic field on Aug. 26-27. Credit: SDO/AIA
Noctilucent Clouds The season for noctilucent clouds in he northern hemisphere is underway. Check here daily for the latest images from NASA's AIM spacecraft.
Switch view: Europe, USA, Asia, Polar
Updated at: 08-26-2018 14:55:03
SPACE WEATHER
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2018 Aug 25 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 Aug 25 2200 UTC
Mid-latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
ACTIVE
30 %
15 %
MINOR
10 %
05 %
SEVERE
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
ACTIVE
15 %
15 %
MINOR
30 %
20 %
SEVERE
40 %
20 %
 
Sunday, Aug. 26, 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!

 

REVERSE POLARITY SUNSPOT: New sunspot AR2720 is not only large, but also strange. Its magnetic polarity is reversed. The North and South ends of its enormous magnetic field are backwards compared to the norm for sunspots in the current solar cycle, decaying Solar Cycle 24. What does this mean? AR2720 may be the first big sunspot of the next solar cycle, Solar Cycle 25, popping up now in the middle of solar minimum. Solar cycles always mix together at their boundaries. The slow transition between Solar Cycle 24 and Solar Cycle 25 appears to be underway.

SURPRISE GEOMAGNETIC STORM: Last night, a crack opened in Earth's magnetic field. Solar wind poured in to fuel a strong G3-class geomagnetic storm. John McKinnon photographed the storm's brilliant green glow from Four Mile Lake in Alberta, Canada:

"At 2 o'clock in the morning, the auroras were so bright I could see them through the glare of the full Moon," he says.

At the peak of the storm, Northern Lights spilled across the Canadian border into US states such as New York, Montana, Michigan, and Indiana. People in Alaska witnessed a fine display as well. At the same time, Southern Lights were photographed from several locations in New Zealand.

Forecasters did not see this coming. The stage was set for the storm when a minor CME arrived with little fanfare about 24 hours ago. First contact with the CME barely registered in solar wind data, and Earth's magnetic field was unperturbed. The action began only after Earth entered the CME's wake, where strong south-pointing magnetic fields opened a crack in our planet's magnetosphere. A surprise geomagnetic storm ensured.

The storm is subsiding, but it is not over. G1- and G2-class disturbances are still ringing the Arctic Circle. This means high-latitide sky watchers should remain alert for auroras after nightfall on Aug. 26-27. Free: Aurora Alerts.

Realtime Aurora Photo Gallery

FLY ME TO THE MOONSTONE: Are you looking for a far-out gift? Nothing says "I love you" like a moonstone from the edge of space. On Jan 27th, the students of Earth to Sky Calculus flew this moonstone wrapped in a hand-crafted sterling silver Celtic love knot 35.1 km (115,158 feet) above Earth's surface:

You can have it for $179.95. The students are selling these pendants to support their cosmic ray ballooning program. Each one comes with a greeting card showing the item in flight and telling the story of its journey to the edge of space. 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

ATMOSPHERIC RADIATION UPDATE: Spaceweather.com and the students of Earth to Sky Calculus are in the middle of a cosmic ray ballooning campaign, visiting places we've been before to update our measurements of atmospheric radiation across the USA. On August 16th through 21st, we launched a series of balloons to the stratosphere from Bishop, CA; John Day, OR; and Wenatchee, WA. We found radiation levels increasing up and down the Pacific Coast. The latest data points are circled red:

Why is cosmic radiation increasing? Mainly, it's due to the solar cycle. As the sun plunges into a deep solar minimum, the sun's magnetic field is weakening. Solar wind pressures are declining as well. As a result of these changes, cosmic rays from deep space are finding it easier to penetrate the inner solar system. Surging cosmic rays hit the top of Earth's atmosphere, creating a downward spray of secondary particles and radiation that we detect using sensors on high-altitude balloons.

Our recent balloon launches from multiple US states as well as Sweden, Norway, Chile, Mexico and New Zealand confirm that cosmic rays are intensifying everywhere, but not by the same amount in all places. For instance, in the latest data we see that atmospheric radiation above Washington is almost 50% stronger than radiation above central California--a significant difference considering that the two launch sites are separated by only ~900 miles and 10 degrees of latitude. This shows that Earth's magnetic field is an uneven shield against incoming cosmic rays, protecting some places more than others.

Next week we'll be launching a cosmic ray balloon from Kansas and, soon thereafter, from Maine to extend our monitoring across the continental USA. Stay tuned.


Realtime Space Weather 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 Aug. 26, 2018, the network reported 25 fireballs.
(23 sporadics, 1 Northern delta Aquariid, 1 Southern delta Aquariid)

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 August 26, 2018 there were 1912 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Recent & Upcoming Earth-asteroid encounters:
Asteroid
Date(UT)
Miss Distance
Velocity (km/s)
Diameter (m)
2018 QA1
2018-Aug-21
12.3 LD
11.2
77
2018 PK9
2018-Aug-22
17 LD
9
33
2018 PW7
2018-Aug-23
11.3 LD
10.6
50
2018 QF1
2018-Aug-23
18.1 LD
14.3
75
2018 PU23
2018-Aug-23
7.8 LD
1.5
8
2018 PR9
2018-Aug-24
18.1 LD
14
46
2018 QH1
2018-Aug-27
13.2 LD
12.5
27
2018 LQ2
2018-Aug-27
9.4 LD
1.5
39
2016 GK135
2018-Aug-28
16.8 LD
2.8
9
2016 NF23
2018-Aug-29
13.2 LD
9
93
1998 SD9
2018-Aug-29
4.2 LD
10.7
51
2018 DE1
2018-Aug-30
15.2 LD
6.5
28
2001 RQ17
2018-Sep-02
19.3 LD
8.3
107
2015 FP118
2018-Sep-03
12.3 LD
9.8
490
2018 QA
2018-Sep-03
17.5 LD
20.4
73
2017 SL16
2018-Sep-20
8.5 LD
6.4
25
2018 EB
2018-Oct-07
15.5 LD
15.1
155
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
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

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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