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SpaceWeather.com -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
 
Solar wind
speed: 432.5 km/sec
density: 12.0 protons/cm3
more data: ACE, DSCOVR
Updated: Today at 0001 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A9
1859 UT Jan30
24-hr: A9
1647 UT Jan30
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2300 UT
Daily Sun: 30 Jan 17
Neither of these sunspots poses a threat for strong solar flares. Credit: SDO/HMI

Sunspot number: 24
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 30 Jan 2017

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 0 days
2017 total: 10 days (34%)
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 30 Jan 2017


The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 77 sfu
explanation | more data
Updated 30 Jan 2017

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: 6.6 nT
Bz: -0.8 nT south
more data: ACE, DSCOVR
Updated: Today at 0001 UT
Coronal Holes: 30 Jan 17

Solar wind flowing from this large coronal hole could reach Earth as early as Jan. 31st, although Feb. 1st is more likely. 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: 01-30-2017 03:55:03
SPACE WEATHER
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2017 Jan 30 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: 2017 Jan 30 2200 UTC
Mid-latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
ACTIVE
45 %
45 %
MINOR
25 %
25 %
SEVERE
05 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
ACTIVE
05 %
10 %
MINOR
25 %
25 %
SEVERE
70 %
60 %
 
Monday, Jan. 30, 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

 

SUNSET SKY SHOW: When the sun goes down tonight, step outside and look southwest.  The crescent Moon is approaching Venus and Mars for a beautiful sunset conjunction on Jan. 31st. Try to catch them before the sky fades to black.  A conjunction of bright planets framed by twilight blue is extra beautiful. Sky maps: Jan. 30, 31.

A HOLE IN THE SUN'S ATMOSPHERE: A large, canyon-shaped hole has opened in the sun's atmosphere, and it is spewing a stream of solar wind directly toward Earth. NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory photographed the structure, which stretches more than halfway across the face of the sun:

This is a "coronal hole" (CH)--a region where the sun's magnetic field opens up and allows solar wind to escape. NASA's STEREO spacecraft recently sampled the stream flowing from this hole and the velocity was unusually high: nearly 750 km/s. Such a fast-moving stream will likely spark Arctic auroras when it arrives on Feb. 1st.

The action could begin even before the stream arrives. NOAA forecasters say there is a 65% chance of G1-class geomagnetic storms on Jan. 31st when Earth crosses through a fold in the heliospheric current sheet--a vast undulating system of electrical currents in space shaped like the skirt of a ballerina. Earth dips in and out of it all the time. These crossings are called "solar sector boundary crossings," and they can trigger their own form of geomagnetic activity. Free: Aurora alerts.

Realtime Aurora Photo Gallery

ALTERNATE AURORAS: On Jan. 24th, photographer Dave Bell of Pinedale, Wyoming, witnessed a display of colorful lights in the sky. They looked liked auroras--but they were not. 

They're light pillars, caused by ice crystals in the air which intercept urban lights and spread them into colorful columns. Sometimes called "false auroras," no solar activity is required for the phenomenon. The only ingredients are ice and light pollution.

"We had a really terrific snowstorm in Pinedale for 36 hours," says Bell. "As the storm cleared and temperatures plummeted, fine crystals of ice filled the air and we were treated to a spectacular display of pillars. A friend recently commented that light pillars are like our version of the aurora borealis."

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 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. 30, 2017, the network reported 17 fireballs.
(17 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 30, 2017 there were potentially hazardous asteroids.
Recent & Upcoming Earth-asteroid encounters:
Asteroid
Date(UT)
Miss Distance
Size
2017 BM30
Jan 25
4.7 LD
22 m
2000 WN107
Jan 26
62.3 LD
2.8 km
2017 BA7
Jan 26
1.1 LD
12 m
2017 AK3
Jan 26
11.3 LD
52 m
2016 YP4
Jan 26
12.6 LD
18 m
2017 BH30
Jan 30
0.1 LD
8 m
2017 BJ30
Jan 31
1 LD
21 m
2017 BY5
Jan 31
10.4 LD
29 m
2017 BT6
Jan 31
13.1 LD
47 m
2017 BB7
Jan 31
3 LD
10 m
2017 BB6
Feb 2
5.6 LD
16 m
2005 VL1
Feb 3
11.4 LD
18 m
2017 BG30
Feb 5
2.5 LD
6 m
2013 FK
Feb 5
7.1 LD
101 m
2017 BK30
Feb 5
8.6 LD
14 m
2017 BQ6
Feb 7
6.6 LD
240 m
2017 BM3
Feb 8
12.6 LD
109 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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