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SpaceWeather.com -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
 
Solar wind
speed: 534.4 km/sec
density: 4.9 protons/cm3
more data: ACE, DSCOVR
Updated: Today at 2352 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A8
1746 UT May29
24-hr: A8
1252 UT May29
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2300 UT
Daily Sun: 29 May 19
The sun is blank--no sunspots. Credit: SDO/HMI

Sunspot number: 0
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 29 May 2019

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 10 days
2019 total: 84 days (57%)
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 29 May 2019


Thermosphere Climate Index
today: 4.38
x1010 W Cold
Max: 49.4
x1010 W Hot (10/1957)
Min: 2.05
x1010 W Cold (02/2009)
explanation | more data
Updated 29 May 2019

The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 68 sfu
explanation | more data
Updated 29 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= 4
unsettled
explanation | more data
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 4.2 nT
Bz: -3.9 nT south
more data: ACE, DSCOVR
Updated: Today at 2351 UT
Coronal Holes: 29 May 19


Earth is inside a stream of solar wind flowing from these coronal holes.
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: 05-29-2019 13:55:02
SPACE WEATHER
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2019 May 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: 2019 May 29 2200 UTC
Mid-latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
ACTIVE
30 %
15 %
MINOR
05 %
05 %
SEVERE
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
ACTIVE
20 %
20 %
MINOR
35 %
25 %
SEVERE
30 %
20 %
 
Wednesday, May. 29, 2019
What's up in space
       
 

Special Offer: SAVE 600nok per person. Book a combination aurora borealis chase and scenic day tour during the months of September, October or November 2019 for the special price of 1800 kr. Check Marianne's webpage for details!

 

STARLINK SATELLITE FLARES: SpaceX's Starlink satellites are flaring as sunlight glints from their flat surfaces, creating flashes in the night sky that can rival the brightest stars. Last night, Tristan Cools of Bruges, Belgium, saw the train of satellites pass overhead and sends this report: "Almost all the objects from the Starlink launch between the leading and trailing satellites were flaring, some very brightly around magnitude 0." Between flares, the satellites were mostly invisible to the naked eye. See for yourself: Heaven's Above has local flyby predictions.

SOLAR WIND SPARKS "RAINBOW AURORAS": Earth is inside a stream of solar wind flowing from a hole in the sun's atmosphere. First contact with the gaseous material on May 29th produced an outburst of colorful auroras over Canada. Harlan Thomas photographed the display northwest of Calgary:

"The outburst was filled with amazing hues from blue to pink," says Thomas. "The aurora danced the dance of colors that only it can produce."

NOAA forecasters expect solar wind effects to continue for another 24 to 48 hours. Full-fledged geomagnetic storms are unlikely, but intermittent auroras may be seen in northern places where the waxing midnight sun has not yet wiped out the night sky. Aurora alerts: SMS Text.

Realtime Aurora Photo Gallery

BRIGHT NOCTILUCENT CLOUDS OVER EUROPE: Noctilucent cloud season is beginning with a bang. Last night in Kiel, Germany, Laura Kranich witnessed bright electric-blue tendrils reaching up from the northern horizon. "Wow, I'm really stunned!" says Kranich. "The clouds covered a huge area of the sky."


Her sunset photo, above, shows the difference between normal clouds, grey and scudding low over the ground, vs. noctilucent clouds rippling in the twilight more than 80 km above Earth's surface.

Noctilucent clouds are a summertime phenomenon. They form when wisps of water vapor rise to the top of Earth's atmosphere and crystallize around specks of meteor smoke. The season typically starts in late May, peaks in July, and peters out in August.

"This is my earliest observation of noctilucent clouds and, considering the fact that it's only May, they were exceptionally bright and well structured," says Kranich. "Seems like this is going to become a great season!"

Previous studies have shown that noctilucent clouds sometimes intensify during solar minimum. Solar minimum conditions are in effect now as the sun has been without spots for 10 consecutive days--a situation that may favor the frosting of meteor smoke high above Earth. Monitor the NLC photo gallery for more sightings.

Realtime Noctilucent Cloud Photo Gallery
Free: Spaceweather.com Newsletter

THE SPACE HAMMER FOR FATHER'S DAY: Just in time for Father's Day: The Space Hammer. On May 2nd, the students of Earth to Sky Calculus flew a payload of hammers to the edge of space, 35.0 km (115,000 feet) above Earth's surface on board a high altitude helium balloon. You can have one for $97.95:

These compact 8 oz. hammers are light enough to fly on a balloon yet dense enough to deliver a powerful blow. The magnetic head holds a nail for one-handed starting, and the stubby 6 in. length is perfect for tight work areas.

Each space hammer comes with a unique gift card showing the tool floating at the top of Earth's atmosphere. The interior of the card tells the story of the flight and confirms that this gift has been to the edge of space and back again.

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

STARLINK SATELLITE FLARES: SpaceX's Starlink satellites are flaring, creating flashes of light in the night sky that can rival the brightest stars. Veteran observer Tristan Cools of Bruges, Belgium, reports: "Yesterday evening almost all the objects from the Starlink launch between the leading and trailing satellites were flaring, some very brightly around magnitude 0."


Flat surfaces on the bottom of the Starlink satellites are reflecting sunlight down to Earth.

Marco Langbroek of the Netherlands, famous for recording the first video of the Starlink train, saw last night's flares, too.

"The flaring behaviour was interesting," he says. "There was a series of brief naked eye flares, one after the other. I did not count but I think I saw at least 15 or so do this within a time span of 1 to 2 minutes. The flares were magnitude +1.5 to +2"--that is, only a little dimmer than 1st magnitude stars.

SpaceX launched 60 satellites on May 23rd--the first installment of a Starlink "mega-constellation" that could number 12,000 by the time the project is complete. Starlink aims to surround Earth with satellites and provide broadband internet to every corner of the globe. Astronomers won't be happy, however, until SpaceX finds a way to dim these flares. A globe-circling swarm of flashing satellites could wreak havoc with the type of deep-sky observations crucial to modern research.

Ready to see the Starlink satellites with your own eyes? Visit Heavens-Above.com and click on "Starlink (leader)" for local flyby predictions. A dynamic display of the satellites' current location is also available.

Realtime Space Weather Photo Gallery
Free: Spaceweather.com Newsletter


  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. 29, 2019, the network reported 28 fireballs.
(27 sporadics, 1 May Vulpeculid)

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 29, 2019 there were 1983 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Recent & Upcoming Earth-asteroid encounters:
Asteroid
Date(UT)
Miss Distance
Velocity (km/s)
Diameter (m)
2019 JF7
2019-May-24
14.7 LD
10.9
37
2019 KX
2019-May-25
10.5 LD
9.6
23
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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