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SpaceWeather.com -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
 
Solar wind
speed: 423.8 km/sec
density: 8.1 protons/cm3
more data: ACE, DSCOVR
Updated: Today at 2344 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A0
2241 UT Jul04
24-hr: A1
1118 UT Jul04
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2350 UT
Daily Sun: 04 Jul 20
The sun is blank--no sunspots. Credit: SDO/HMI

Sunspot number: 0
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 04 Jul 2020

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 5 days
2020 total: 139 days (75%)
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 04 Jul 2020


Thermosphere Climate Index
today: 2.44
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 04 Jul 2020

The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 69 sfu
explanation | more data
Updated 04 Jul 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 2020 are near a Space Age peak.

Oulu Neutron Counts

Percentages of the Space Age average:
today: +9.9% High
48-hr change: -0.4%
Max: +11.7% Very High
(12/2009)
Min: -32.1% Very Low (06/1991)
explanation | more data
Updated 04 Jul 2020 @ 0600 UT

Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
Credit: NOAA/Ovation
Planetary K-index
Now: Kp= 3 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 3
quiet
explanation | more data
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 10.1 nT
Bz: 3.4 nT north
more data: ACE, DSCOVR
Updated: Today at 2345 UT
Coronal Holes: 04 Jul 20

Solar wind flowing from this northern coronal hole could brush Earth's magnetic field on July 5-6.
Credit: SDO/AIA

Noctilucent Clouds NLC season is underway. NASA's AIM spacecraft detected a blue cloud over the north pole on May 17th--one of the earliest starts in the spacecraft's 14 year history. Check here for daily images from AIM.
Switch view: Europe, USA, Asia, Polar
Updated at:
SPACE WEATHER
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2020 Jul 04 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 Jul 04 2200 UTC
Mid-latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
ACTIVE
20 %
10 %
MINOR
05 %
01 %
SEVERE
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
ACTIVE
15 %
20 %
MINOR
25 %
20 %
SEVERE
25 %
10 %
 
Saturday, Jul. 4, 2020
What's up in space
       
 

When the pandemic is over, Marianne Bergli would like to show you something: The Northern Lights. Marianne's team at Heaven on Earth Aurora Tours is eager to see you when flights to Norway resume--perfect for small groups/families.

 

LUNAR ECLIPSE MAY BE INVISIBLE: There's a lunar eclipse tonight! Bad news: It may be invisible. Eclipse expert Fred Espenak, formerly of NASA, believes that the Moon will not dip deeply enough into Earth's shadow to make the eclipse visible to the naked eye. "I fear the general media is hyping this event when there's really nothing more to see than a Full Moon--although that’s beautiful in its own right," he says. FULL STORY

BRIGHT MORNING COMET: Comet NEOWISE (C/2020 F3) is doing something very rare: Shining through the rosy glow of dawn. "How many times in your life can you say 'I saw a comet at dawn'--and really mean it?" asks Petr Horálek of the Czech Republic. "It happened to me this morning!" Horálek took this picture just before sunrise over Proseč u Chrudimi:

"Pretty clear skies allowed me to capture Comet NEOWISE from the ephemeral moment of its rising to the moment I was able to see it with naked eyes--even if still very hardly--on July 4th July," says Horálek.

Yesterday, July 3rd, Comet NEOWISE passed by the sun near the orbit of Mercury. Intense solar heating boosted its brightness to magnitude +1 (now +2), allowing it to be seen despite its close proximity to the sun. This development has turned NEOWISE into one of the most remarkable comets in years.

In Stixendorf, Austria, Comet NEOWISE was visible from the very moment it peeked above dark clouds hugging the eastern horizon. Astrophotographer Michael Jaeger recorded this video:

A tracked exposure by Jaeger shows the extent of the comet's magnificent fan-shaped tail: image.

Comet NEOWISE is just getting started. It is barely visible to the naked eye now only because it has to compete with the glow of dawn. The situation will improve in the days ahead as NEOWISE moves into darker skies. If it retains its current luminosity, the comet should put on a very good show indeed. Set your alarm for dawn! Sky maps: July 4, 5, 6.

Realtime Comet Photo Gallery
Free:
Spaceweather.com Newsletter

APOLLO 11 PROOF SILVER DOLLAR (COLLECTOR'S ITEM): Are you looking for a far-out gift? Consider this: On July 20, 2019 (the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon landing), the students of Earth to Sky Calculus flew this rare proof silver dollar to the stratosphere:

The US Mint created the coins to celebrate the first Moon landing--but you can no longer buy them from the Mint. You can, however, get one from Earth to Sky Calculus. The students are selling the collector's item for $229.95 to support their cosmic ray ballooning program.

The silver dollar is curved and reproduces the helmet of astronaut Buzz Aldrin. Reflected in Buzz's visor are Neil Armstrong, the United States flag, and the lunar lander. The opposite side of the coin shows Neil's iconic footprint on the Moon. Included is a greeting card showing the coin in flight and a certificate of authenticity.

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


Realtime Space Weather Photo Gallery
Free:
Spaceweather.com Newsletter

Realtime Aurora 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 July 4, 2020, the network reported 3 fireballs.
(2 sporadics, 1 Northern June Aquilid)

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 4, 2020 there were 2037 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Recent & Upcoming Earth-asteroid encounters:
Asteroid
Date(UT)
Miss Distance
Velocity (km/s)
Diameter (m)
2020 JX1
2020-Jun-29
3.3 LD
5
62
2019 AC3
2020-Jul-01
10.5 LD
3.4
12
2020 MK3
2020-Jul-01
1.9 LD
8.4
24
2020 MT2
2020-Jul-03
16.1 LD
8.4
59
2020 MO
2020-Jul-03
9.3 LD
9.6
41
2007 UN12
2020-Jul-04
16.7 LD
2.9
6
2020 LS
2020-Jul-04
19.4 LD
11.5
75
2020 MU1
2020-Jul-11
18.8 LD
2.7
37
2020 ML
2020-Jul-12
11.4 LD
4.4
23
2020 KJ7
2020-Jul-13
11.9 LD
3.4
31
2009 OS5
2020-Jul-13
17.6 LD
2.6
45
2020 MQ2
2020-Jul-14
17.1 LD
8.3
44
2020 MX
2020-Jul-17
15 LD
5.3
51
2016 DY30
2020-Jul-19
9 LD
15.1
3
2020 ME3
2020-Jul-19
14.8 LD
4.6
24
2002 BF25
2020-Jul-21
9.4 LD
6.8
129
2020 MX3
2020-Jul-29
9.5 LD
8.6
70
2018 PY7
2020-Jul-31
8.9 LD
9.5
16
2007 RF1
2020-Jul-31
10.7 LD
5
21
2018 BD
2020-Aug-03
7.6 LD
9.4
3
2009 PQ1
2020-Aug-05
10.8 LD
13.5
112
2020 FA1
2020-Aug-23
18.4 LD
1.9
20
2016 AH164
2020-Aug-26
15.7 LD
5.6
4
2011 ES4
2020-Sep-01
0.3 LD
8.2
30
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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