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GEOMAGNETIC STORM SUBSIDING AGAIN: Geomagnetic activity is subsiding again following an unexpected second wave of severe (G4-class) geomagnetic storms mid-day on Sept. 8th. High-latitude sky watchers should remain alert for auroras, however, as the solar wind continues to blow faster than 700 km/s. Isolated periods of strong storming are possible in the hours ahead. Free: Aurora Alerts
CME IMPACT SPARKS AURORAS, STOPS TRAFFIC: The debris from Wednesday's monster X9-class solar flare reached Earth last night--and its impact was everything forecasters expected. A severe G4-class geomagnetic storm commenced, sparking auroras over Scandinavia so bright they actually stopped traffic."I was driving home when the CME hit," reports Jani Ylinampa of Rovaniemi, Finland. "It was such an amazing display, I really had to pull over and shoot some photos."
"The full Moon dampened the lights a bit," says Ylinampa, "but it was a great show."
In the United States, auroras were seen in at least 18 states including Alaska, Maine, Connecticut, New York, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Illinois, Minnesota, Delaware, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, Iowa, Maryland, Virginia, Vermont, and South Dakota. Incredibly, Northern Lights descended as far south as Arkansas. Brian Emfinger sends this picture from Morillton, AR:
"I set up my camera about an hour after sunset and immediately recognized some reddish aurora with some curtains," says Emfinger. "From the first picture, the aurora was clearly fading and within 15 minutes was completely gone."
Realtime Aurora Photo Gallery
ROSE QUARTZ CRYSTAL ECLIPSE PENDANTS: On Aug. 21st during the Great American Solar Eclipse, the students of Earth to Sky Calculus launched 11 space weather balloons from the path of totality. They aimed to photograph the Moon's shadow from the stratosphere--and they succeeded. As a fundraiser, some of the balloons carried jewelry. Here is a rose quartz crystal pendant entering the Moon's shadow more than 90,000 feet above the Malheur National Forest in eastern Oregon:
During the 2.5 hour flight, the pendants were wrapped in the Moon's shadow for more than two minutes, experiencing a spooky darkness colder than -50 C.
You can have one for $149.95. Each crystal pendant comes with a unique gift card showing the jewelry passing through the Moon's shadow and 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 proceeds support hands-on STEM education
SOLAR RADIO STORM: All week long, sunspot AR2673 has been seething with activity, producing not only a fusillade of strong flares, but also a roar of shortwave radio static. Amateur radio astronomer Thomas Ashcraft has kept his radio telescope trained on the sun since the sunspot first appeared: "I have been listening to a intensifying radio storm on the sun for the past four days," he says. "It is one of the strongest I have ever heard." Click to hear a sample of the static-y sounds emerging from his loudspeakers:
"That was a sonic extract captured at 23 MHz and 25 MHz. Seldom does the sun show purple on my spectrograph but it has hit purple often during this dynamic period. My radios are actually saturating in the stronger flaring moments, and the chart recorder needles are pegging."
These radio sounds are caused by beams of electrons accelerated by explosive solar flares. As the electrons slice through the sun's atmosphere, they generate a ripple of plasma waves and radio emissions detectable on Earth 93 million miles away. Astronomers classify solar radio bursts into five types; Ashcraft's recording captured a mixture of Type III and Type V. Free: Solar Flare Alerts
Realtime Space Weather Photo Gallery
Solar Eclipse Photo Gallery
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 Sep. 8, 2017, the network reported 31 fireballs.
(27 sporadics, 4 September epsilon Perseids)
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]
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 September 8, 2017 there were 1803 potentially hazardous asteroids.
| |Recent & Upcoming Earth-asteroid encounters:
|Asteroid || |
|2017 QB35 || |
|2017 RB || |
|2017 OP68 || |
|2017 QK18 || |
|2014 RC || |
|2017 PR25 || |
|1989 VB || |
|2017 OD69 || |
|2012 TC4 || |
|2005 TE49 || |
|2013 UM9 || |
|2006 TU7 || |
|171576 || |
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.
|2003 UV11 || |
| ||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.
| ||The official U.S. government space weather bureau |
| ||The first place to look for information about sundogs, pillars, rainbows and related phenomena. |
| ||Researchers call it a "Hubble for the sun." SDO is the most advanced solar observatory ever. |
| ||3D views of the sun from NASA's Solar and Terrestrial Relations Observatory |
| ||Realtime and archival images of the Sun from SOHO. |
| ||from the NOAA Space Environment Center |
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| ||from the NOAA Space Environment Center |
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