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SpaceWeather.com -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
 
Solar wind
speed: 359.6 km/sec
density: 0.4 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2345 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A7
1937 UT Oct17
24-hr: A7
1419 UT Oct17
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2300 UT
Daily Sun: 17 Oct 19
The sun is blank--no sunspots. Credit: SDO/HMI
Sunspot number: 0
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 17 Oct 2019

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 14 days
2019 total: 213 days (73%)
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 17 Oct 2019


Thermosphere Climate Index
today: 4.38
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 Oct 2019

The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 66 sfu
explanation | more data
Updated 17 Oct 2019

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: +9.3% High
30-day change: 0.0%
Max: +11.7% Very High
(12/2009)
Min: -32.1% Very Low (06/1991)
explanation | more data
Updated 17 Oct 2019 @ 2330 UT

Since 2015, Earth to Sky cosmic ray balloons launched weekly from California have also detected significant increases in atmospheric radiation. Dose rates reported below are in the stratosphere at approx. 100,000 ft.

California Cosmic Ray Balloons
Monitoring started in March 2015
now: 4.79 uGy/hr High
change since 2015: +23%
Max: 4.79 uGy/hr High
(10/2019)
Min: 3.80 uGy/hr Low (05/2015)
explanation | more data
Updated 15 Oct 2019 @ 1800 UT

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: 3.0 nT
Bz: -0.2 nT south
more data: ACE, DSCOVR
Updated: Today at 2346 UT
Coronal Holes: 17 Oct 19

Solar wind flowing from this coronal hole should reach Earth on Oct. 20-21.
Credit: SDO/AIA

Noctilucent Clouds The northern season for noctilucent clouds has ended. NASA's AIM spacecraft is no longer detecting electric-blue clouds around the Arctic Circle.
Switch view: Europe, USA, Asia, Polar
Updated at: 09-03-2019 13:55:02 UT
SPACE WEATHER
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2019 Oct 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: 2019 Oct 17 2200 UTC
Mid-latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
ACTIVE
05 %
05 %
MINOR
01 %
01 %
SEVERE
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
ACTIVE
15 %
15 %
MINOR
20 %
20 %
SEVERE
10 %
10 %
 
Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019
What's up in space
       
 

Special Offer: SAVE 600nok per person. Book a combination aurora borealis chase and scenic day tour during the months of September, October or November 2019 for the special price of 1800 kr. Check Marianne's webpage for details!

 

SOLAR WIND, INCOMING: A hole in the sun's atmosphere is facing Earth and spewing solar wind in our direction. Estimated time of arrival: Oct. 20-21. The impact is not expected to cause a full-fledged geomagnetic storm, but Arctic Auroras are likely when the solar wind arrives. Aurora alerts: SMS Text.

FOR NO REASON, AURORAS AT SEA: Geomagnetic storms and auroras go together. Northern Lights are the telltale glow of Earth's magnetic field vibrating in response to solar wind. So how do we explain this? There was no geomagnetic storm on October 16th when bright auroras appeared off the coast of Tromsø, Norway. Alan Dyer photographed the display from the deck of the ferry ship Trollfjord:

"Despite the fact that geomagnetic activity was low, we had a crowd-pleasing show of Northern Lights from our position in the Norwegian Sea north of Tromsø," says Dyer. "While the ship is a ferry delivering people, cars and cargo, the majority of passengers are tourists sailing the coast for the spectacular scenery by day and the frequent auroras by night."

The seas around Tromsø are some of the best places in the world to see Northern Lights. The reason is their location beneath Earth's persistent auroral oval. A gentle rain of solar wind electrons, guided to Earth by our planet's curved magnetic field, creates a polar ring of Northern Lights that intersects the latitude of Tromsø. Aurora tour guides and photographers naturally gravitate to the area because of its frequently-green skies--no geomagnetic storm required. Aurora alerts: SMS Text.

Realtime Aurora Photo Gallery
Free:
Spaceweather.com Newsletter

A RARE FIREBALL FROM THE BIG DIPPER: On Oct. 16th, a bright meteor disintegrated over Arizona. NASA's network of all-sky meteor cameras tracked it backwards to the Big Dipper, identifying it as a rare "October Ursae Majorid." The fireball was almost as bright as the waning gibbous Moon:


Above: An Ursae Majorid fireball over Mt. Lemmon. See also Kitt Peak and Mt. Hopkins.

This fireball is part of a debris stream discovered in 2006 by observers in Japan. Its origin is unknown. October Ursae Majorid meteoroids travel around the sun in highly elliptical orbits tilted almost perpendicular to the plane of the Solar System. It looks like the orbit of a comet, but the comet itself has not yet been found.

These mysterious meteors number about 1 per hour when the shower peaks in mid-October. The shower is rich in fireballs. If you see a flash of light in the Big Dipper, you might have spotted a October Ursae Majorid.

Realtime Spaceweather Photo Gallery
Free:
Spaceweather.com Newsletter

CROWD-FUNDING SPACE WEATHER RESEARCH: Did you know that cosmic rays in Earth's atmosphere are intensifying? It's true. We're monitoring the phenomenon with regular space weather balloon flights to the stratosphere. This student science program is not supported by any government grant or corporate sponsorship. Instead, we raise our research funds by selling these:


This pendant and others like it have touched the edge of space. We fly them to the stratosphere alongside our cosmic ray sensors for fundraising.

You can have one for $179.95. With a sterling silver backface that says "I Love You to the Moon and Back," these blue jewels make great anniversary, Christmas and birthday gifts. All sales support the Earth to Sky Calculus cosmic ray ballooning program and hands-on STEM research.

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


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 Oct. 17, 2019, the network reported 21 fireballs.
(19 sporadics, 2 Orionids)

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 October 17, 2019 there were 2018 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Recent & Upcoming Earth-asteroid encounters:
Asteroid
Date(UT)
Miss Distance
Velocity (km/s)
Diameter (m)
2019 TN1
2019-Oct-12
12.9 LD
8.6
15
2019 SK8
2019-Oct-12
10.5 LD
8.4
21
2019 SV9
2019-Oct-12
8.6 LD
13.5
29
2019 SE2
2019-Oct-12
19.2 LD
10.2
55
2019 TQ3
2019-Oct-13
10.4 LD
18.2
22
2019 TB7
2019-Oct-13
6 LD
5.6
17
2019 TH2
2019-Oct-13
9.3 LD
7.8
19
2019 TT1
2019-Oct-13
2.9 LD
13.3
21
2019 TA7
2019-Oct-14
3.9 LD
10.6
20
2019 SR8
2019-Oct-16
13.5 LD
9.8
26
2019 TE2
2019-Oct-18
8.2 LD
10.1
29
2019 TW6
2019-Oct-18
14.8 LD
5.6
19
2019 TP5
2019-Oct-18
8.2 LD
18.6
36
2019 TA1
2019-Oct-18
15.5 LD
6.4
23
2019 TM7
2019-Oct-18
11.1 LD
24.1
60
2019 TK5
2019-Oct-19
2.5 LD
5.8
11
2019 TG7
2019-Oct-19
16.8 LD
7.6
23
2019 SJ8
2019-Oct-19
11.6 LD
7.4
46
2019 TQ2
2019-Oct-25
12.8 LD
12.4
35
162082
2019-Oct-25
16.2 LD
11.2
589
2017 TG5
2019-Oct-25
14.4 LD
11.9
34
2019 TR2
2019-Oct-29
19.4 LD
13.8
73
2015 JD1
2019-Nov-03
12.9 LD
11.9
269
2010 JG
2019-Nov-12
19.6 LD
14.9
235
481394
2019-Nov-21
11.3 LD
7.9
372
2008 EA9
2019-Nov-23
10.5 LD
2.2
10
2017 AP4
2019-Dec-03
8.5 LD
7.5
15
2018 XW2
2019-Dec-07
17.4 LD
13
28
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 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.

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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