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SpaceWeather.com -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
 
Solar wind
speed: 457.4 km/sec
density: 4.8 protons/cm3
more data: ACE, DSCOVR
Updated: Today at 0001 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: C2
2109 UT Jan28
24-hr: C2
2109 UT Jan28
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2300 UT
Daily Sun: 28 Jan 17
Neither of these sunspots poses a threat for strong solar flares. Credit: SDO/HMI

Sunspot number: 33
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 28 Jan 2017

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 0 days
2017 total: 10 days (37%)
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 28 Jan 2017


The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 80 sfu
explanation | more data
Updated 28 Jan 2017

Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
Credit: NOAA/Ovation
Planetary K-index
Now: Kp= 2 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 3
quiet
explanation | more data
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 6.3 nT
Bz: -0.9 nT south
more data: ACE, DSCOVR
Updated: Today at 0000 UT
Coronal Holes: 28 Jan 17

Earth is inside a stream of solar wind flowing from the indicated coronal hole. Credit: NASA/SDO.
Noctilucent Clouds The southern season for noctilucent clouds began on Nov. 17, 2016. Come back to this spot every day to see the "daily daisy" from NASA's AIM spacecraft, which is monitoring the dance of electric-blue around the Antarctic Circle.
Switch view: Ross Ice Shelf, Antarctic Peninsula, East Antarctica, Polar
Updated at: 01-28-2017 17:55:02
SPACE WEATHER
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2017 Jan 28 2200 UTC
FLARE
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
CLASS M
05 %
05 %
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: 2017 Jan 28 2200 UTC
Mid-latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
ACTIVE
20 %
10 %
MINOR
05 %
05 %
SEVERE
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
ACTIVE
15 %
15 %
MINOR
30 %
20 %
SEVERE
30 %
20 %
 
Saturday, Jan. 28, 2017
What's up in space
       
 

Marianne's Arctic Xpress supports World Cancer Day by donating 50% of the price paid on all bookings Feb. 3-5 to cancer research. Arctic clothing and semi-pro cameras included. Groups of 2 to 8 welcome. Book Now

 

WEEKEND AURORA WATCH: This weekend, a solar wind stream is gently buffeting Earth's magnetic field. As a result, NOAA forecasters estimate a 40% chance of polar geomagnetic storms on Jan. 28th. Arctic sky watchers should be alert for auroras. [realtime photo gallery]

SUPERCOOLED RAINBOW: When the temperature dips below freezing, rainbows vanish, right?  Rainbows require liquid raindrops, and frozen water doesn't do the trick. Yesterday in Alaska, however, a rainbow appeared that seemed to defy the simple laws of physics. John Dean photographed the pale arc over Nome:

"It was not raining," says Dean. "The temperature was 25 F and a light snow storm had just passed through about an hour before. This is a first for me, and it has me perplexed."

Atmospheric optics expert Les Cowley explains what happened: "This is definitely a rainbow made by water drops, even though it was so cold. Ice spheres, hail or snowflakes cannot make them because a rainbow needs almost perfectly spherical, smooth and transparent water drops. This bow is broad, telling us that the water drops were small. They were also probably quite high up, and might even have been supercooled below the normal freezing point of water."

Supercooled raindrops can form when droplets of water fall through layers of subfreezing air. Droplets containing specks of dust or even microbes readily freeze as ice crystals form around the impurities.  But when rain droplets are especially pure, they can remain in a liquid state even when the temperature drops below freezing.

Hence -- the "supercooled rainbow." High latitude sky watchers should be alert for these rare rainbows as strange Arctic weather grips the North in winter 2017.

Realtime Space Weather Photo Gallery

POLAR STRATOSPHERIC CLOUDS: Earth's stratosphere is normally free of clouds. Not this weekend, though. Observers in northern parts of Scandinavia are reporting an outbreak of brilliantly-colored icy clouds in the typically dry and transparent layer of our planet's atmosphere. Mia Stålnacke sends this picture from Kiruna, Sweden:

"Stratospheric clouds have been appearing almost daily lately up here in the subarctic," says Stålnacke. "We had a beautiful display today (Jan 28th) just after sunset!"

These icy clouds are a sign of very cold temperatures. For ice crystals to form in the arid stratosphere, temperatures must drop to around -85º C. High-altitude sunlight shining through tiny ice particles ~10µm across produce the characteristic bright iridescent colors.

Once thought to be mere curiosities, some polar stratospheric clouds (PSCs) are now known to be associated with the destruction of ozone. Indeed, an ozone hole formed over the UK in Feb. 2016 following an outbreak of ozone-destroying Type 1 PSCs.

Realtime Space Weather Photo Gallery

FAR-OUT VALENTINE'S GIFT: Nothing says "I love you" like a bear from space. To raise money for their cosmic ray research program, the students of Earth to Sky Calculus have flown a payload-full of Valentine's bears to the edge of space. This was a special flight, timed to photograph the bears at sunset in the stratosphere, wrapped in the romantic light of the fading sun 98,000 feet above Earth's surface:

You can have one for $49.95. Each bear comes with a Valentine's card showing the bears in flight and telling the story of their trip to the stratosphere.

More far-out Valentine's gifts may be found in the Earth to Sky store. All proceeds support cosmic ray balloon flights and STEM education.

Realtime Aurora Photo Gallery


Realtime Airglow Photo Gallery


Realtime Sprite 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 Jan. 28, 2017, the network reported 22 fireballs.
(22 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 January 28, 2017 there were 1766 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Recent & Upcoming Earth-asteroid encounters:
Asteroid
Date(UT)
Miss Distance
Size
2002 LS32
Jan 24
53.9 LD
1.0 km
2017 BX
Jan 25
0.7 LD
11 m
1991 VK
Jan 25
25.2 LD
1.9 km
2017 BA6
Jan 25
13.5 LD
22 m
2000 WN107
Jan 26
62.3 LD
2.8 km
2017 AK3
Jan 26
11.3 LD
52 m
2016 YP4
Jan 26
12.6 LD
18 m
2017 BY5
Jan 31
10.4 LD
29 m
2017 BB6
Feb 2
5.6 LD
16 m
2005 VL1
Feb 4
9.1 LD
18 m
2013 FK
Feb 5
7.1 LD
101 m
2017 BM3
Feb 8
12.6 LD
116 m
2014 DV110
Feb 10
9.8 LD
45 m
2015 QR3
Feb 12
13.1 LD
31 m
2017 BW
Feb 17
4.6 LD
88 m
2013 WT67
Feb 17
44.2 LD
1.1 km
1992 FE
Feb 24
13.1 LD
275 m
1998 QK56
Feb 24
53 LD
1.2 km
2012 DR32
Mar 2
2.7 LD
52 m
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 Spaceweather.com. 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, 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 12% 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.
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
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