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SpaceWeather.com -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
 
Solar wind
speed: 464.9 km/sec
density: 12.5 protons/cm3
more data: ACE, DSCOVR
Updated: Today at 2352 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A7
2136 UT May28
24-hr: A7
2136 UT May28
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2300 UT
Daily Sun: 28 May 19
The sun is blank--no sunspots. Credit: SDO/HMI

Sunspot number: 0
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 28 May 2019

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 9 days
2019 total: 83 days (56%)
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 28 May 2019


Thermosphere Climate Index
today: 4.39
x1010 W Cold
Max: 49.4
x1010 W Hot (10/1957)
Min: 2.05
x1010 W Cold (02/2009)
explanation | more data
Updated 28 May 2019

The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 68 sfu
explanation | more data
Updated 28 May 2019

Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
Credit: NOAA/Ovation
Planetary K-index
Now: Kp= 3 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 3
quiet
explanation | more data
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 6.0 nT
Bz: 3.7 nT north
more data: ACE, DSCOVR
Updated: Today at 2351 UT
Coronal Holes: 28 May 19


A stream of solar wind flowing from this coronal hole should reach Earth on May 29.
Credit: SDO/AIA

Noctilucent Clouds The northern season for noctilicent clouds is underway. Monitor the daily images from NASA's AIM spacecraft to see how the clouds spread around the Arctic Circle as northern summer unfolds.
Switch view: Europe, USA, Asia, Polar
Updated at: 05-28-2019 13:55:02
SPACE WEATHER
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2019 May 28 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 May 28 2200 UTC
Mid-latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
ACTIVE
30 %
30 %
MINOR
10 %
05 %
SEVERE
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
ACTIVE
15 %
20 %
MINOR
35 %
35 %
SEVERE
35 %
30 %
 
Tuesday, May. 28, 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!

 

INTERPLANETARY SHOCK WAVE HITS EARTH: A minor interplanetary shock wave hit Earth on May 26th at approximately 22:00 UT. The CME-like disturbance was unexpected. It caused the density of the solar wind around Earth to abruptly quadruple, while the interplanetary magnetic field doubled in strength. Earth's magnetosphere was rattled by the impact, but it did not spark a geomagnetic storm. Aurora alerts: SMS Text.

STARLINK SATELLITE FLARES: SpaceX has an idea: Surround the Earth with 12,000 satellites and provide broadband internet to every corner of the globe. The project is called Starlink--and it's getting started. The first 60 Starlink satellites were launched on May 23rd, creating a train of bright lights in the night sky. "It was one of the most spectacular things I have every seen," reports Marco Langbroek of Leiden, the Netherlands, who made this video the night after the launch:

"I could see the entire train of satellites with the unaided eye," he says.

Since then, sky watchers have been catching the "Starlink Train" -- often by accident. "I saw it last night around 9:30 pm in Piseco, New York," reports Christopher Hayes. "I just happened to look up at the right moment. Thanks to Spaceweather.com I knew what it was, but anyone who didn't know would have been in for quite a surprise. It was such an amazing sight!"

The Train no longer looks as it did on the first night. Individual satellites are fading in brightness as they move out into their operational orbits. A typical urban sighting now consists of only 4 to 6 naked-eye objects interleaved by dozens of fainter satellites best seen through binoculars.

The Train is still worth catching, however, because the satellites are flaring. Sunlight is glinting off flat surfaces on the satellites' bodies, creating flashes of light that can briefly rival the brightest stars in the sky. Here are two flares photographed on May 26th by Bill Keel, an astronomy professor at the University of Alabama:

"I saw a pass of the Starlink Train about 15 degrees from zenith over Tuscaloosa," says Keel. "Some of them showed very systematic flaring, flashing brightly at nearly the same location in the sky. The brightest flares reached a magnitude of -2 for about 5 seconds." For reference, that's 50% brighter than Sirius, the brightest star in the sky.

On May 27th, George Varros photographed a cluster of 4 flares over Mt. Airy, Maryland. "I could see them despite horrible conditions--clouds, humidity, airplanes everywhere. This was a real treat visually!"

The flares are pretty, but some astronomers are concerned. Will 12,000 artificial stars criss-crossing the night sky, sometimes flaring, make deep-sky observing impossible? It's an important question. Keel speculates that the regularity of the flares he observed might mean they're predictable, in which case, big telescopes could learn to avoid them. We'll find out soon enough as SpaceX plans to launch at least two more trains this year.

Ready to see the Starlink Train with your own eyes? Visit Heavens-Above.com and click on "Starlink (leader)" for local flyby predictions.

Realtime Space Weather Photo Gallery
Free: Spaceweather.com Newsletter

FAR-OUT FATHER'S DAY GIFT: Father's Day is less than 3 weeks away. What do you give the dad who has everything? He probably doesn't have this. On May 25th, the students of Earth to Sky Calculus flew Baby Groot to the stratosphere:

You can have it for $99.95. The students are selling these figurines to support their cosmic ray ballooning program. Groot's head is hollow, so dad can use it to hold pens, tools, flowers or whatever. Each arboreal superhero comes with a greeting card showing Groot in flight and telling the story of his journey to the stratosphere and back again.

Dad-satisfaction guaranteed!

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


Realtime Aurora Photo Gallery


Realtime Noctilucent Cloud 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 May. 28, 2019, the network reported 7 fireballs.
(7 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 May 28, 2019 there were 1983 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Recent & Upcoming Earth-asteroid encounters:
Asteroid
Date(UT)
Miss Distance
Velocity (km/s)
Diameter (m)
2019 KM
2019-May-23
9.2 LD
10.1
51
2019 JF7
2019-May-24
14.7 LD
10.9
37
2019 KX
2019-May-25
10.5 LD
9.6
22
2015 KQ18
2019-May-25
10.7 LD
13.1
30
2019 KL
2019-May-25
2.1 LD
14.3
18
66391
2019-May-25
13.5 LD
21.5
1780
2019 JD8
2019-May-26
14.8 LD
15.1
43
2019 KN
2019-May-26
4 LD
10.3
23
2019 KT
2019-May-28
0.8 LD
11.6
17
2003 LH
2019-May-28
15.6 LD
7.4
32
2019 JH8
2019-May-28
9.1 LD
6.9
18
2019 KV
2019-May-29
7.1 LD
5.6
20
2019 KH
2019-May-29
15.4 LD
9.8
53
2011 HP
2019-May-30
12.3 LD
8.4
135
2019 KU
2019-Jun-01
16.1 LD
6.1
16
2019 KH1
2019-Jun-02
10.6 LD
18.5
28
2012 KZ41
2019-Jun-03
3.8 LD
12
34
2019 KY
2019-Jun-04
5.5 LD
6.2
19
2019 KS
2019-Jun-04
12.3 LD
17.6
31
2019 JX2
2019-Jun-06
13.8 LD
7
43
2014 MF18
2019-Jun-06
8.8 LD
3
22
2019 KJ
2019-Jun-14
12.6 LD
8.1
68
441987
2019-Jun-24
7.7 LD
12.6
178
2008 KV2
2019-Jun-27
17.8 LD
11.4
195
2016 NN15
2019-Jun-28
9.6 LD
8.4
16
2015 XC352
2019-Jul-01
11.9 LD
4.1
26
2016 OF
2019-Jul-07
12.8 LD
8.5
85
2016 NO56
2019-Jul-07
3.4 LD
12.2
26
2016 NJ33
2019-Jul-12
15 LD
4.5
32
2015 HM10
2019-Jul-24
12.2 LD
9.5
68
2010 PK9
2019-Jul-26
8.2 LD
16.5
155
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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