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SpaceWeather.com -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
 
Solar wind
speed: 329.0 km/sec
density: 7.9 protons/cm3
more data: ACE, DSCOVR
Updated: Today at 2351 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: B4
2225 UT Jul31
24-hr: B9
0913 UT Jul31
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2300 UT
Daily Sun: 31 Jul 17
Tiny new sunspot AR2669 poses no threat for strong flares. Credit: SDO/HMI

Sunspot number: 11
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 31 Jul 2017

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 0 days
2017 total: 54 days (25%)
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 31 Jul 2017


The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 70 sfu
explanation | more data
Updated 31 Jul 2017

Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
Credit: NOAA/Ovation
Planetary K-index
Now: Kp= 0 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 1
quiet
explanation | more data
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 5.6 nT
Bz: 1.9 nT north
more data: ACE, DSCOVR
Updated: Today at 2351 UT
Coronal Holes: 31 Jul 17

Solar wind flowing from this coronal hole should reach Earth on July 31st. Credit: NASA/SDO.
Noctilucent Clouds They're back! Images of noctilucent clouds from NASA's AIM spacecraft are available again. The spacecraft's orbit had recently changed, requiring a new way to point AIM's science instruments. This problem has now been solved, and "daily daisies" have returned to Spaceweather.com.
Switch view: Europe, USA, Asia, Polar
Updated at: 07-31-2017 17:55:07
SPACE WEATHER
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2017 Jul 31 2200 UTC
FLARE
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
CLASS M
20 %
20 %
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 Jul 31 2200 UTC
Mid-latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
ACTIVE
10 %
15 %
MINOR
01 %
05 %
SEVERE
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
ACTIVE
15 %
15 %
MINOR
20 %
25 %
SEVERE
15 %
25 %
 
Monday, Jul. 31, 2017
What's up in space
       
 

Lights Over lapland is excited to announce that Autumn Aurora Adventures are available for immediate booking! Reserve your adventure of a lifetime in Abisko National Park, Sweden today!

 

HERE COMES THE SOLAR WIND: A high-speed stream of solar wind flowing from a hole in the sun's atmosphere is expected to reach Earth on July 31st.  NOAA forecasters estimate a 40% chance of minor geomagnetic storms when the solar wind arrives. High-latitude sky watchers should be alert for auroras, especially in the southern hemisphere where winter darkness favors visibility. Free: Aurora Alerts

SOMETHING FLARE-Y THIS WAY COMES: Following a 2-week trip around the farside of the sun, old sunspot AR2665 is about to return. The sunspot's towering magnetic canopy is now visible over the sun's eastern limb, shown here in an extreme UV photo from NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory:

In early July, AR2665 crossed the Earthside of the sun, sparking moderately strong geomagnetic storms when it faced our planet. The huge sunspot remained active during its farside transit as NASA spacecraft observed bright flares and multiple bright CMEs billowing away from its location.

Will AR2665 bring a new round of geomagnetic storms and auroras to Earth in early August?  It all depends on how much the sunspot has decayed in recent days.  Amateur astronomers with solar telescopes are encouraged to train their optics on the sun's eastern limb.  Dark cores should be appearing there soon. Free: Solar Flare Alerts

Realtime Space Weather Photo Gallery

SOLAR ECLIPSE VIEWING GLASSES: Get ready for the Great American Solar Eclipse on Aug. 21st! Earth to Sky's safe solar glasses will allow you to view any phase of the upcoming eclipse without fear of damage to your eyes. The Family Pack includes 3 pairs of glasses and costs only $29.95. And there's a bonus. They have all been to the edge of space:

On June 23, 2017, the students of Earth to Sky Calculus flew a payload-full of solar glasses to the stratosphere onboard a high-altitude space weather balloon. The glasses ascended more than 95,000 feet above the Sierra Nevada mountains of central California before parachuting back to Earth.

Each Family Pack of solar eclipse glasses comes with a unique gift card showing the glasses floating at the top of Earth's atmosphere. The interior of the card tells the story of the flight and confirms that these items have been to the edge of space and back again.

More items from the edge of space may be found in the Earth to Sky Store. All proceeds support our Solar Eclipse Balloon Network and hands-on STEM education.

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

NOCTILUCENT CLOUDS FROM SPACE: This week, sky watchers near the Arctic Circle have reported nightly displays of bright noctilucent clouds.  The silvery ripples of NLCs look amazing from the ground, but they look even better from space.  NASA's AIM spacecraft took this picture of the entire Arctic surrounded by an electric-blue glow on July 24th:

Regular readers of Spaceweather.com have been waiting for this image since June. Normally, AIM  transmits pictures of NLCs every day, but the regular flow of data was interrupted months ago. The reason has to do with the spacecraft's orbit. Since AIM was launched in 2007, its orbit has been precessing--that is, slowly rotating with respect to the planet below. Eventually, accumulated changes in AIM's orbital elements required a new way of pointing the spacecraft's instruments. Mission controllers have been working on that problem all summer long--and it has finally been solved.

"We are thrilled to be back in business," says Prof. Cora Randall, a member of the AIM science team at the University of Colorado's Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences. "Our orbit will continue to evolve, but at this point we believe that we know how to control the pointing under the anticipated orbit parameters."

NLCs are, essentially, clouds of frosted meteor smoke. They form when wisps of summertime water vapor rise toward the top of Earth's atmosphere. Water molecules stick to the microscopic debris of disintegrated meteoroids, assembling themselves into tiny crystals of ice that glow beautifully in sunlight at the edge of space.

Thanks to the efforts of the AIM team, you can see these strange clouds not only from Earth, but also from Earth orbit. AIM images are published every day right here on Spaceweather.com.

Realtime Noctilucent Cloud Photo Gallery


Realtime Meteor Photo Gallery


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 Jul. 31, 2017, the network reported 25 fireballs.
(10 sporadics, 6 Perseids, 5 Southern delta Aquariids, 4 alpha Capricornids)

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 July 31, 2017 there were 1803 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Recent & Upcoming Earth-asteroid encounters:
Asteroid
Date(UT)
Miss Distance
Velocity (km/s)
Diameter (m)
2017 OE7
2017-Jul-26
4.5 LD
4.7
20
2011 CC22
2017-Aug-04
15.5 LD
18.4
186
2017 NB7
2017-Aug-06
6.9 LD
6
80
2017 OF7
2017-Aug-10
19.2 LD
8.1
89
2014 OA339
2017-Aug-13
12.3 LD
10
47
3122
2017-Sep-01
18.5 LD
13.5
5376
2014 RC
2017-Sep-11
15.1 LD
8.9
16
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
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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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