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SpaceWeather.com -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
 
Solar wind
speed: 347.3 km/sec
density: 3.7 protons/cm3
more data: ACE, DSCOVR
Updated: Today at 2346 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A6
1711 UT Sep19
24-hr: A7
0623 UT Sep19
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2300 UT
Daily Sun: 19 Sep 19
The sun is blank--no sunspots. Credit: SDO/HMI

Sunspot number: 0
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 19 Sep 2019

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 16 days
2019 total: 185 days (71%)
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 19 Sep 2019


Thermosphere Climate Index
today: 4.26
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 19 Sep 2019

The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 66 sfu
explanation | more data
Updated 19 Sep 2019

Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
Credit: NOAA/Ovation
Planetary K-index
Now: Kp= 1 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 1
quiet
explanation | more data
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 3.9 nT
Bz: 0.4 nT north
more data: ACE, DSCOVR
Updated: Today at 2345 UT
Coronal Holes: 19 Sep 19


Solar wind flowing from this coronal hole could hit Earth's magnetic field on Sept. 23rd.
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 Sep 19 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 Sep 19 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
15 %
20 %
SEVERE
10 %
10 %
 
Thursday, Sep. 19, 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!

 

THE NEXT SOLAR WIND STREAM: Earth is currently moving through a void between significant streams of solar wind. The next impulse of gas from the sun is expected on Sept. 23rd when a narrow hole in the sun's atmosphere firehoses Earth. Waning moonlight will favor visibility of Arctic auroras. Aurora alerts: SMS Text.

HUGE SOLAR PROMINENCE: For the past two days, amateur astronomers around the world have been monitoring a wall of plasma dancing along the sun's southeastern limb. "It is a huge solar prominence," reports Martin Wise, who photographed the structure today from his backyard observatory in Trenton, Florida:

"I used a 200 mm telescope and an H-alpha filter to take the picture," Wise explains. "H-alpha" filters are tuned to the red glow of solar hydrogen, beautifully revealing hot hydrogen-rich structures like this one.

This is a type of prominence called a "hedgerow prominence" because some of them resemble trimmed shrubs. Hot glowing plasma inside the structure is held aloft by unstable solar magnetic fields. NASA and Japanese space telescopes have taken high resolution images of similar prominences and seen some amazing things such as (1) tadpole-shaped plumes that float up from the base of the prominence; (2) narrow streams of plasma that descend from the top like waterfalls; and (3) swirls and vortices that resemble van Gogh's Starry Night.

Got a solar telescope? Take a look!

Realtime Space Weather Photo Gallery
Free: Spaceweather.com Newsletter

PERSISTENT PURPLE SUNSETS: How long does volcanic gas linger in the stratosphere? Sky watchers around the world are seeing for themselves. Three months after the Raikoke volcano spewed a plume of sulfurous gas into the stratosphere, sunsets are still turning purple. Here's the latest plum-colored sunset from Lavallette, New Jersey:

"The purple color became prominent about 20 minutes after sunset," says  Joseph Golebieski, who took the picture on Sept. 18th. "I used a Nikon D500 digital camera set at ISO 200 for a 1/5s exposure."

Why purple? Fine volcanic aerosols in the stratosphere scatter blue light which, when mixed with ordinary sunset red, produces a violet hue. The stratosphere is laced with emissions not only from Raikoke in the Kirul islands, but also from the Ulawun volcano in New Guinea. Plumes from both punched through to the stratosphere during summer 2019.

Research shows that sulfurous gas in the stratosphere can linger for as much as 3 years. Sulfur dioxide in the stratosphere combines with water to form sulfuric acid aerosols.  Eventually, the droplets grow large enough to fall to Earth--but the process is slow. This means purple sunsets could continue for some time to come.

Realtime Volcanic Sunset Photo Gallery
Free: Spaceweather.com Newsletter

3D LASER-ETCHED MOON: On August 16, 2018, the students of Earth to Sky Calculus launched a cosmic ray balloon to the stratosphere. This unique laser-etched Moon cube went along for the ride, ascending to an altitude of 101,140 feet:

You can have it for $119.95. The students are selling these cubes as a fund-raiser for their cosmic ray ballooning program. It's an authentic representation of the Moon, with all of the craters, mountains and lava plains accurately portrayed.

Each Moon-cube comes with a unique gift card showing the item 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 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 Sep. 19, 2019, the network reported 16 fireballs.
(15 sporadics, 1 southern Taurid)

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 September 19, 2019 there were 2018 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Recent & Upcoming Earth-asteroid encounters:
Asteroid
Date(UT)
Miss Distance
Velocity (km/s)
Diameter (m)
504800
2019-Sep-14
13.9 LD
14.4
155
2019 RT
2019-Sep-14
13.7 LD
16.6
50
2019 RQ2
2019-Sep-14
9.4 LD
17.2
29
467317
2019-Sep-14
13.9 LD
6.4
389
2019 JF1
2019-Sep-16
11.2 LD
4.3
62
2019 SD
2019-Sep-16
5.8 LD
10.2
29
2018 FU1
2019-Sep-16
18.4 LD
4.7
16
2019 SJ
2019-Sep-16
0.6 LD
8.7
12
2019 RC
2019-Sep-16
17.4 LD
15.1
157
2019 SC
2019-Sep-19
1.4 LD
13.5
12
2019 RP2
2019-Sep-20
8.5 LD
1.6
6
2017 SL16
2019-Sep-21
7.9 LD
6.5
25
2017 SM21
2019-Sep-21
11.5 LD
9.6
20
2019 RE2
2019-Sep-21
19.7 LD
8.7
42
2019 RB3
2019-Sep-21
19 LD
11.8
50
2019 QZ1
2019-Sep-22
12.5 LD
8.2
77
523934
2019-Sep-24
10.9 LD
22.3
257
2019 QY3
2019-Sep-26
13.9 LD
8.4
40
2017 KP27
2019-Sep-26
4.2 LD
4.7
25
2006 QV89
2019-Sep-27
18.1 LD
4.1
31
2018 FK5
2019-Oct-01
13.3 LD
10.5
8
2018 LG4
2019-Oct-02
13.8 LD
8.1
12
2017 TJ4
2019-Oct-05
13.5 LD
8.9
32
2019 RK
2019-Oct-08
16.7 LD
3.1
31
162082
2019-Oct-25
16.2 LD
11.2
589
2017 TG5
2019-Oct-25
14.4 LD
11.9
34
2015 JD1
2019-Nov-03
12.9 LD
11.9
269
2010 JG
2019-Nov-12
19.6 LD
14.9
235
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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©2019 Spaceweather.com. All rights reserved.