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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Solar wind
speed: 410.6 km/sec
density: 2.7 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2344 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A7
2102 UT Oct16
24-hr: A7
0805 UT Oct16
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2300 UT
Daily Sun: 16 Oct 19
The sun is blank--no sunspots. Credit: SDO/HMI
Sunspot number: 0
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 16 Oct 2019

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 13 days
2019 total: 212 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 16 Oct 2019

Thermosphere Climate Index
today: 4.33
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 16 Oct 2019

The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 67 sfu
explanation | more data
Updated 16 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: +8.9% High
30-day change: -0.1%
Max: +11.7% Very High
Min: -32.1% Very Low (06/1991)
explanation | more data
Updated 16 Oct 2019 @ 1600 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
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= 2 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 3
explanation | more data
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 3.0 nT
Bz: -2.3 nT south
more data: ACE, DSCOVR
Updated: Today at 2345 UT
Coronal Holes: 16 Oct 19

Solar wind flowing from this coronal hole could 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
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2019 Oct 16 2200 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
01 %
01 %
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 16 2200 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
05 %
05 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
15 %
15 %
20 %
20 %
10 %
10 %
Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2019
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!


ARCTIC AURORA WATCH: Around the Arctic Circle, auroras are likely on Oct. 20th when a minor stream of solar wind grazes Earth's magnetic field. The gaseous material is flowing from a southern hole in the sun's atmosphere. Aurora alerts: SMS Text.

A 60,000 MILE SPLIT END: The solar cycle is currently reaching a nadir that could set 2019 apart as the deepest Solar Minimum of the Space Age. Sunspots are very scarce. Because the face of the sun is blank, observers are turning their attention to the edge and, indeed, finding things to see.  Amateur astronomer Alan Friedman sends this picture from his backyard observatory in Buffalo, New York:

"On Oct. 15th I saw this prominence in the process of being released from its magnetic bond to the solar disk," says Friedman. "It looked like very tall wispy tuft of hair with a split end, which I measure to be about 60,000 miles high!"

Prominences are glowing clouds of hot gas held together by filaments of magnetism. When they rise over the edge of the sun, they can become easy to see through properly-filtered telescopes. Prominences come in all shapes and sizes. Indeed, Friedman saw another one yesterday that looked like a fish. Browse the photo gallery for more examples:

Realtime Spaceweather Photo Gallery
Free: 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

ZODIACAL LIGHTS IN THE ATACAMA DESERT: Zodiacal lights are incredibly subtle and faint--so much so that even most astronomers have never seen them. There's one place in the world, however, where Zodiacal lights are sometimes so bright, they can be seen not only in the sky but also reflected from the ground. Daniele Gasparri sends this picture from the Atacama desert in Chile:

"I've been living in the Atacama desert for almost 2 years," says Gasparri. "On Sept. 25, 2019, the Zodiacal Lights were so intense that they could be seen in the wind blown waters of a lagoon."

When you see Zodiacal Lights, you've seen the backbone of our solar system. Zodiacal Lights are sunlight reflected from interplanetary dust. The pale glow traces the dusty plane through which all planets orbit, known to astronomers as the ecliptic plane. In the southern hemisphere, September and October are the best months to see Zodiacal Lights because in the evening the ecliptic plane juts over the horizon almost vertically.

Zodiacal Lights seem especially bright in the Atacama desert because the area has exceptionally dark skies and very clear, dry air.  "At 4300 meters of altitude, 235 km from the nearest city, the night sky of Atacama is the best of the world--a true 'astronomer's paradise,'" says Gasparri. More of Gasparri's desert sky photos may be found at

Realtime Aurora Photo Gallery
Free: 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

On Oct. 16, 2019, the network reported 28 fireballs.
(26 sporadics, 1 southern Taurid, 1 October Ursa Majorid)

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 16, 2019 there were 2018 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Recent & Upcoming Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
Velocity (km/s)
Diameter (m)
2019 TZ6
1.4 LD
2019 TN1
12.9 LD
2019 SK8
10.5 LD
2019 SV9
8.6 LD
2019 SE2
19.2 LD
2019 TQ3
10.4 LD
2019 TB7
6 LD
2019 TH2
9.3 LD
2019 TT1
2.9 LD
2019 TA7
3.9 LD
2019 SR8
13.5 LD
2019 TE2
8.2 LD
2019 TW6
14.8 LD
2019 TP5
8.2 LD
2019 TA1
15.5 LD
2019 TM7
10.9 LD
2019 TK5
2.5 LD
2019 TG7
16.8 LD
2019 SJ8
11.6 LD
2019 TQ2
12.8 LD
16.2 LD
2017 TG5
14.4 LD
2019 TR2
19.4 LD
2015 JD1
12.9 LD
2010 JG
19.6 LD
11.3 LD
2008 EA9
10.5 LD
2017 AP4
8.5 LD
2018 XW2
17.4 LD
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, 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.
  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
  the underlying science of space weather welcomes these supporters of science communication: RV Sales and CRAS, the Conservatory of Recording Arts and Sciences and Windshield Replacement Phoenix and Breast Augmentation Phoenix and Dentist Chandler, AZ.

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