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SpaceWeather.com -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
 
Solar wind
speed: 429.1 km/sec
density: 5.2 protons/cm3
more data: ACE, DSCOVR
Updated: Today at 2355 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A3
1839 UT Mar29
24-hr: A9
1636 UT Mar29
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2300 UT
Daily Sun: 29 Mar 18
The sun is blank--no sunspots. Credit: SDO/HMI

Sunspot number: 0
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 29 Mar 2018

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 10 days
2018 total: 51 days (57%)
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%)

Updated 29 Mar 2018


The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 69 sfu
explanation | more data
Updated 29 Mar 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: 5.4 nT
Bz: -2.8 nT south
more data: ACE, DSCOVR
Updated: Today at 2354 UT
Coronal Holes: 29 Mar 18

Solar wind flowing from the indicated coronal hole is expected to reach Earth on March 30. Credit: SDO/AIA
Noctilucent Clouds Our connection with NASA's AIM spacecraft has been restored! New images from AIM show that the southern season for noctilucent clouds (NLCs) is underway. Come back to this spot every day to see AIM's "daily daisy," which reveals the dance of electric-blue NLCs around the Antarctic Circle..
Switch view: Ross Ice Shelf, Antarctic Peninsula, East Antarctica, Polar
Updated at: 02-07-2018 17:55:05
SPACE WEATHER
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2018 Mar 29 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 Mar 29 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 %
20 %
MINOR
30 %
25 %
SEVERE
35 %
20 %
 
Thursday, Mar. 29, 2018
What's up in space
       
 

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UPDATED RE-ENTRY PREDICTIONS: The uncertainty of Tiangong-1's re-entry time is narrowing. China's doomed space station will fall into the atmosphere on April 1st at 07:15 UTC ± 20 hours, according to the Aerospace Corporation. The precision of this forecast, however, is still not sufficient to pinpoint the location of the fireball. Tiangong-1 may re-enter almost anywhere on Earth between latitudes 43ºN and 43ºS (see map here). Stay tuned for updates.

LAST SIGHTINGS OF TIANGONG-1: In just a few days, China's Tiangong-1 space station will lie scattered across some unknown region of Earth, disintegrated by re-entry into the atmosphere. For now, though, it is still in orbit, and Maximilian Teodorescu took advantage of the little time remaining to take a unique picture of the doomed spacecraft. On March 28th, he photographed Tiangong-1 crossing in front of the sun over Bucharest, Romania:

"This is my first and last image of the Chinese space station," says Teodorescu. "I had no clouds for this event, but the altitude of the Sun was rather low (28 degrees) and together with some poor seeing, the silhouette of Tiangong 1 is barely discernible. Nevertheless, this is surely one of the last observation of the station before it enters the atmosphere."

Farewell Tiangong-1, and thanks for the parting shot! Visit Teodorescu's blog for more information about the equipment he used to capture the transit.

Realtime Space Weather Photo Gallery

MOTHER'S DAY IS ONLY 6 WEEKS AWAY: On March 5, 2018, the students of Earth to Sky Calculus flew a cosmic ray balloon to the stratosphere, more than 94,000 feet above Earth's surface. This sterling silver Mother's Day pendant went along for the ride:

You can have it for $119.95. The students are selling these pendants as a fund-raiser for their cosmic ray monitoring program. All proceeds support atmospheric radiation measurements and hands-on STEM education.

Each pendant comes with a greeting card showing the jewelry in flight and telling the story of its journey to the stratosphere and back again. Mom-satisfaction guaranteed.

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

SOMETHING IN THE OFFING? The sun has been without sunspots almost every day this month--including today. This could soon change. The magnetic canopy of an active region is rising over the sun's eastern limb, shown here in a photo from NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory:

The plume likely heralds the approach of a new sunspot. It's probably not a large one, though. As the sunspot cycle descends toward Solar Minimum--happening now!--sunspots tend to decrease in size and lose their potency. Amateur astronomers with backyard solar telescopes are encouraged to monitor the sun's eastern limb ... for whatever's coming. Free: Solar Flare Alerts


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 Mar. 29, 2018, the network reported 9 fireballs.
(9 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 March 29, 2018 there were 1882 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Recent & Upcoming Earth-asteroid encounters:
Asteroid
Date(UT)
Miss Distance
Velocity (km/s)
Diameter (m)
2018 FW1
2018-Mar-24
9.2 LD
7.3
35
2018 FB3
2018-Mar-25
9.3 LD
15.9
33
2018 FQ1
2018-Mar-25
5.7 LD
5.9
15
2018 FR1
2018-Mar-26
6.2 LD
12.2
17
2018 DH1
2018-Mar-27
9.2 LD
14.4
224
2016 SR2
2018-Mar-28
18.7 LD
7.3
20
2018 FU1
2018-Mar-28
12.3 LD
5.9
15
2018 FO4
2018-Mar-28
7.7 LD
6.3
11
2018 FU3
2018-Mar-29
17.7 LD
8.4
20
2018 FE4
2018-Mar-29
13.3 LD
20.7
39
2018 FB
2018-Mar-29
4.9 LD
8.5
55
2018 FB2
2018-Mar-30
10 LD
6.7
26
2010 GD35
2018-Mar-31
15.5 LD
11.6
45
2018 EM4
2018-Apr-01
6.3 LD
6.2
31
2004 FG29
2018-Apr-02
4 LD
14.9
22
2018 ER1
2018-Apr-02
15.6 LD
4
26
2018 EB
2018-Apr-04
10.4 LD
15.1
165
2018 FW4
2018-Apr-05
9.8 LD
11.6
35
363599
2018-Apr-12
19.3 LD
24.5
224
2014 UR
2018-Apr-14
9.3 LD
4.4
17
2016 JP
2018-Apr-20
12 LD
12.7
214
2012 XL16
2018-Apr-23
15.8 LD
6.1
28
2013 US3
2018-Apr-29
10.1 LD
7.7
214
2018 FV4
2018-Apr-29
17.7 LD
6.5
61
2002 JR100
2018-Apr-29
10.8 LD
7.7
49
1999 FN19
2018-May-07
9.7 LD
5.7
118
2016 JQ5
2018-May-08
6.3 LD
10.4
9
388945
2018-May-09
6.5 LD
9
295
1999 LK1
2018-May-15
13.3 LD
10
141
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 13% 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
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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