Solar wind
speed: 377.0 km/sec
density: 6.0 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 0951 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A8
0815 UT Feb18
24-hr: A8
0815 UT Feb18
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 0900 UT
Daily Sun: 18 Feb 20
The sun is blank -- no sunspots. Credit: SDO/HMI

Sunspot number: 0
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 18 Feb 2020

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 16 days
2020 total: 32 days (65%)
2019 total: 281 days (77%)
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 18 Feb 2020


Thermosphere Climate Index
today: 3.53
x1010 W Cold
Max: 49.4
x1010 W Hot (10/1957)
Min: 2.05
x1010 W Cold (02/2009)
explanation | more data: gfx, txt
Updated 17 Feb 2020

The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 71 sfu
explanation | more data
Updated 18 Feb 2020

Cosmic Rays Solar minimum is underway. The sun's magnetic field is weak, allowing extra cosmic rays into the solar system. Neutron counts from the University of Oulu's Sodankyla Geophysical Observatory show that cosmic rays reaching Earth in 2019 are near a Space Age peak.

Oulu Neutron Counts

Percentages of the Space Age average:
today: +11.3% Very High
7-day change: +0.6%
Max: +11.7% Very High
(12/2009)
Min: -32.1% Very Low (06/1991)
explanation | more data
Updated 18 Feb 2020 @ 0500 UT

Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
Credit: NOAA/Ovation
Planetary K-index
Now: Kp= 4 unsettled
24-hr max: Kp= 4
unsettled
explanation | more data
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 7.0 nT
Bz: -6.6 nT south
more data: ACE, DSCOVR
Updated: Today at 0951 UT
Coronal Holes: 18 Feb 20

Solar wind flowing from this southern coronal hole could graze Earth's magnetic field on Feb. 20th or 21st.
Credit: SDO/AIA

Noctilucent Clouds The southern hemisphere season for noctilucent clouds began on Nov. 15th--the earliest start in recorded history. Check here for daily images from NASA's AIM spacecraft.
Switch view: Europe, USA, Asia, Polar
Updated at: 02-16-2020 17:55:03 UT
SPACE WEATHER
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2020 Feb 17 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: 2020 Feb 17 2200 UTC
Mid-latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
ACTIVE
15 %
20 %
MINOR
05 %
05 %
SEVERE
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
ACTIVE
15 %
15 %
MINOR
25 %
25 %
SEVERE
25 %
30 %
 
Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2020
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!

 

COSMIC RAYS ARE PEAKING: Once again, cosmic rays percolating through Earth's atmosphere are within a percentage point of the Space Age maximum. This is a symptom of Solar Minimum. When the sun's magnetic field weakens, it allows deep space radiation to enter the solar system. The current Solar Minimum is very deep, and consequently cosmic rays fluxes are very high. You can track the numbers right here on Spaceweather.com.

STARLINK BUZZES PUERTO RICO: SpaceX successfully launched another batch of 60 Starlink satellites on Feb. 17th. Just hours after the Falcon 9 rocket blasted off from Cape Canaveral, the newly released satellites flew over Puerto Rico where a meteor camera captured them flying single-file across the sky:

The camera is operated by the Astronomical Society of the Caribbean (Sociedad de Astronomia del Caribe), the largest astronomy group on the Island.  "A couple of flashes are visible ahead of the main group of satellites, perhaps from parts or a pair of Starlink satellites ahead of the others," notes the Society.

This latest launch brings the total number of Starlink satellites in orbit to 300--a number that could grow to 42,000 by the time the Starlink project is complete. The good news is, Starlink could bring internet access to every corner of the world. The bad news is, Starlink poses a serious threat to astronomical research according to a recent study by the International Astronomical Union.

See for yourself. Starlink flyby predictions are available from Calsky and Heavens Above. (Got pictures? Submit them here.)

Realtime Spaceweather Photo Gallery
Free:
Spaceweather.com Newsletter

AURORA SURPRISE: No sunspots. No solar flares. No gust of solar wind. In short, there was no reason to expect an outburst of auroras on Feb. 17th. Then this happened:

"Surprise auroras strike big!" exclaims Alexander Kuznetsov, who photographed the display from Kilpisjärvi, Finland. "At one point they went pink and moved very fast! I also saw a fast corona unfolding above me, reminding me of an angel."

"When I first went outside, I was not expecting much because the solar wind speed was relatively low, so I did not take my snowshoes," he says. "Then the show began. Currently, there is over a meter of snow in Kilpisjärvi, so I had to crawl through some snowy terrain to get to the best viewing spot."

Where did these auroras come from? A crack opened in Earth's magnetic field (that is, "BsubZ tilted south"). Solar wind poured in to fuel the display--no solar storm required.

Realtime Aurora Photo Gallery
Free:
Spaceweather.com Newsletter

A GIFT FROM THE EDGE OF SPACE: Every time the students of Earth to Sky Calculus launch cosmic ray sensors to the stratosphere, they send a little something extra along for the ride. For example, this moonstone wrapped in a sterling silver Celtic love knot:

You can have it for $179.95. The students are selling these pendants as a fund-raiser for their cosmic ray monitoring program. They make great anniversary, birthday and Mother's Day gifts. 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.

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

  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 Feb. 17, 2020, the network reported 5 fireballs.
(5 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 February 18, 2020 there were 2018 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Recent & Upcoming Earth-asteroid encounters:
Asteroid
Date(UT)
Miss Distance
Velocity (km/s)
Diameter (m)
2020 CH
2020-Feb-12
11.6 LD
9.4
31
2020 CF
2020-Feb-12
14.8 LD
5.3
12
2020 CQ2
2020-Feb-14
0.4 LD
8
7
163373
2020-Feb-15
15.1 LD
15.2
589
2020 BL14
2020-Feb-16
18.1 LD
8.8
33
2020 CR2
2020-Feb-16
3.1 LD
21.8
12
2020 CG2
2020-Feb-17
2.3 LD
8.7
46
2020 CK1
2020-Feb-17
8.6 LD
8.1
17
2018 CW2
2020-Feb-17
6.3 LD
10.2
28
2020 DB
2020-Feb-18
3.8 LD
21.7
16
2020 BA10
2020-Feb-18
12.3 LD
9
29
2020 DD
2020-Feb-18
2.5 LD
38.6
71
2020 CX1
2020-Feb-19
14.1 LD
7.9
53
2020 DA
2020-Feb-19
7.9 LD
10.3
54
2020 BL7
2020-Feb-19
13.9 LD
8.5
36
2020 CO2
2020-Feb-19
3.9 LD
15.3
16
2020 CU2
2020-Feb-19
13.2 LD
8.3
12
2020 BC9
2020-Feb-20
13.9 LD
9.3
77
2020 DE
2020-Feb-20
3.5 LD
9.7
14
2019 BE5
2020-Feb-20
13.7 LD
14.8
34
2020 DC
2020-Feb-20
5.9 LD
5
15
2020 CP2
2020-Feb-20
5 LD
21
27
2011 DR
2020-Feb-23
14.7 LD
5.8
25
2016 CO246
2020-Feb-23
18.4 LD
5.9
25
2020 CY2
2020-Feb-23
11.1 LD
3.8
11
2020 BR10
2020-Feb-23
15.4 LD
15.1
101
2020 BW13
2020-Feb-24
9.1 LD
2.4
12
2012 DS30
2020-Feb-26
12.3 LD
5.4
22
2015 BK509
2020-Feb-29
18.7 LD
12.5
118
2017 BM123
2020-Mar-01
10.5 LD
8.1
65
2018 RF6
2020-Mar-10
11.2 LD
12.6
36
2008 UB95
2020-Mar-11
18.5 LD
7.6
41
2018 GY
2020-Mar-15
6.2 LD
9.5
39
2012 XA133
2020-Mar-27
17.4 LD
23.7
235
2010 GD35
2020-Mar-29
15.3 LD
12
43
2006 FH36
2020-Mar-30
11.3 LD
5.1
93
2019 GM1
2020-Apr-02
9 LD
4.2
14
2015 FC35
2020-Apr-04
10.5 LD
13.8
148
2019 HM
2020-Apr-10
7.2 LD
3.2
23
363599
2020-Apr-11
19.2 LD
24.5
224
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 Regener-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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