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CO-ROTATING INTERACTION REGION: NOAA forecasters say that a co-rotating interaction region (CIR) might brush against Earth's magnetic field on June 22nd or 23rd. CIRs are transition zones between slow- and fast-moving streams of solar wind. They contain enhanced magnetic fields and plasma density gradients that sometimes spark geomagnetic storms when they reach Earth. Chance of storms this week: 20%. Free: Space Weather Alerts
6 MONTHS IN A BEER CAN: Northern summer has arrived, and to Jan Koeman of the Netherlands this means one thing: It's time to open a can of beer. Koeman is an astronomer at the Philippus Lansbergen Observatory. Every year in December he empties a can of beer and refills it with photo paper. A pin hole punched in the side turns the contraption into a camera. Yesterday, after six months in the field, he opened the can, and this is what it revealed:
"This shows the movement of the sun with 1 single shot of 6 months exposure time," explains Koeman. The lowest arcs were traced by the winter sun of Dec. 2016. The highest arc was made by the sun on the eve of the 2017 summer solstice. Occasional gaps are caused by clouds.
Such cameras are called solargraphs. They're usually made of cylindrical cans, but not always. Olivér Nagy of Budapest, Hungary, decided to try something different:
"I have cut out a football shape from light sensitive paper, glued it together, and created a spherical solargraphy image," he explains. "I had to wait 6 months to see if it would work."
Indeed it did work, proving that 6 months can be fit not only in a beer can, but also in a football. More ideas for solargraphs may be found at these URLs: #1, #2, #3
Realtime Space Weather Photo Gallery
RAINBOW BREATHING WHALES: "Rainbow breathing whale" sounds like a mythical creature. On June 18th, Mila Zinkova of San Francisco saw one ... for real. "Humpback whales are back in San Francisco Bay, and they are breathing out rainbows."
This is not mythology. It's physics. When Zinkova took the picture, the sun was behind her back shining down into the droplet-filled exhaust of the whale's spout. Sunbeams reflecting from the water droplets produced a prismatic spray of color just like an ordinary rainbow.
Of course it didn't look ordinary. "The full video," says Zinkova, "may be found here. At 2:10 into the video there are anchovies jumping out of the water, escaping a feeding whale."
Realtime Space Weather Photo Gallery
NOCTILUCENT CLOUDS: Think of them as frosted meteoroids. Noctilucent clouds (NLCs) form when summertime wisps of water vapor rise to the top of Earth's atmosphere and wrap themselves around specks of meteor smoke. The resulting crystals of ice glow silvery-blue in the night sky. Karoly Jonas witnessed this apparition of NLCs just before sunrise on June 21st in Budapest, Hungary:
"The crescent Moon and Venus were there as well," says Jonas. "They were completely surrounded by noctilucent clouds."
When noctilucent clouds first appeared in the 19th century, you had to travel to Arctic latitudes to see them. In recent years, however, they have intensified and spread with sightings as far south as Colorado and Kansas--a development that might be related to climate change. Observing tips: Look west 30 to 60 minutes after sunset when the sun has dipped ~10 degrees below the horizon. If you see luminous blue-white tendrils spreading across the sky, you may have spotted a noctilucent cloud.
Realtime Noctilucent Cloud Photo Gallery
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Realtime Aurora 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 Jun. 21, 2017, the network reported 10 fireballs.
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 June 21, 2017 there were 1803 potentially hazardous asteroids.
| |Recent & Upcoming Earth-asteroid encounters:
|Asteroid || |
|2010 VB1 || |
|2017 LX || |
|2017 ML || |
|2017 LV || |
|471984 || |
|2017 MF || |
|2017 MK || |
|2017 LW || |
|441987 || |
|2017 BS5 || |
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.
|2014 OA339 || |
| ||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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| ||fun to read, but should be taken with a grain of salt! Forecasts looking ahead more than a few days are often wrong. |
| ||from the NOAA Space Environment Center |
| ||the underlying science of space weather |
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