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SpaceWeather.com -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
 
Solar wind
speed: 353.8 km/sec
density: 3.9 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2346 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A8
2113 UT Dec07
24-hr: A9
0744 UT Dec07
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2300 UT
Daily Sun: 07 Dec 19
The sun is blank--no sunspots. Credit: SDO/HMI

Sunspot number: 0
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 07 Dec 2019

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 23 days
2019 total: 260 days (76%)
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 07 Dec 2019


Thermosphere Climate Index
today: 3.29
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 07 Dec
2019

The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 70 sfu
explanation | more data
Updated 07 Dec 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: +10.6% Very High
7-day change: +1.4%
Max: +11.7% Very High
(12/2009)
Min: -32.1% Very Low (06/1991)
explanation | more data
Updated 07 Dec 2019 @ 1700 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: 4.55 uGy/hr High
change since 2015: +18%
Max: 4.79 uGy/hr High
(10/2019)
Min: 3.80 uGy/hr Low (05/2015)
explanation | more data
Updated 01 Dec 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: 3.3 nT
Bz: 1.2 nT north
more data: ACE, DSCOVR
Updated: Today at 2346 UT
Coronal Holes: 07 Dec 19

Solar wind flowing from this southern coronal hole could graze Earth's magnetic field on Dec. 9th. No geomagnetic storms are expected.
Credit: SDO/AIA

Noctilucent Clouds The southern hemisphere season for noctilucent clouds began on Nov. 15th--the earliest start in recorded history. Check here for daily images from NASA's AIM spacecraft.
Switch view: Europe, USA, Asia, Polar
Updated at: 12-06-2019 16:55:05 UTUT
SPACE WEATHER
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2019 Dec 07 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 Dec 07 2200 UTC
Mid-latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
ACTIVE
20 %
20 %
MINOR
05 %
05 %
SEVERE
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
ACTIVE
15 %
15 %
MINOR
30 %
30 %
SEVERE
25 %
25 %
 
Saturday, Dec. 7, 2019
What's up in space
       
 

Marianne’s Arctic tours: Operating in small groups of 7 to 14 persons--all needs supplied for safety, comfort and pleasure. Night & day photography or non-photographic landscape - wildlife tours. Click for details!

 

INTERSTELLAR COMET BORISOV: This weekend, on Dec. 8th, interstellar Comet 2I/Borisov makes its closest approach to the sun--just outside the orbit of Mars (2.0 AU). This is not a particularly close approach, but it is noteworthy because Comet Borisov has never received much sunlight, so it could react in unexpected ways. Skilled amateur astronomers can attempt to monitor the very faint comet as it passes through the southern constellation Crater: ephemeris.

COSMIC RAYS ARE INTENSIFYING: Cosmic rays have been intensifying for more than 4 years. On Dec. 5th and 6th they surged within a percentage point of the Space Age record, according to data from neutron counters at the University of Oulu's Cosmic Ray Station in Finland:

The reason for this increase is Solar Minimum--underway now. During Solar Minimum, the sun's magnetic field weakens, allowing more energetic particles from deep space to penetrate the solar system. The current Solar Minimum is one of the deepest (perhaps the deepest) of the past century. Increases in cosmic rays are to be expected. The only question is, how high will they go? You can monitor daily neutron counts right here on Spaceweather.com.

To find out if the cosmic ray surge is being felt at mid latitudes, yesterday Spaceweather.com and the students of Earth to Sky Calculus launched a cosmic ray balloon to the stratosphere over central California:


Above: You're never too young to start measuring cosmic rays

We've been launching these balloons almost weekly since 2015 to monitor atmospheric radiation over California. This payload landed in a remote Nevada desert more than 50 miles from the launch site. A recovery team is en route to retrieve the payload and its sensors now. Stay tuned for data!

Realtime Spaceweather Photo Gallery
Free:
Spaceweather.com Newsletter

STERLING SILVER "FOREVER IN MY HEART" PENDANT: Sterling Silver + Space = an out of this world Christmas gift. On Nov. 18, 2019, the students of Earth to Sky Calculus launched a cosmic ray balloon to the stratosphere. This sterling silver sunflower pendant hitched a ride, 111,352 feet high:

You can have it for $133.95. The students are selling these pendants to support their cosmic ray ballooning program. Inscribed on the back with "forever in my heart," each 925 stirling silver pendant comes with a greeting card showing the item in flight and telling the story of its journey to the edge of space.

Bonus: The pendant contains a hidden chamber, which you may fill with the ashes of a loved one or anything else you wish to keep close to your heart.

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 Dec. 07, 2019, the network reported 29 fireballs.
(20 sporadics, 5 sigma Hydrids, 3 Geminids, 1 Nov. omega Orionid)

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 December 7, 2019 there were 2018 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Recent & Upcoming Earth-asteroid encounters:
Asteroid
Date(UT)
Miss Distance
Velocity (km/s)
Diameter (m)
2019 WH4
2019-Dec-02
5.8 LD
8.1
12
2019 XH2
2019-Dec-02
3.3 LD
5.2
6
2017 AP4
2019-Dec-03
8.5 LD
7.5
15
2019 XF2
2019-Dec-04
1.3 LD
10.4
14
2019 XR1
2019-Dec-04
1.4 LD
11.7
22
2019 XE2
2019-Dec-04
4.1 LD
7.3
15
2019 WW
2019-Dec-05
8.6 LD
9.8
44
2019 WB5
2019-Dec-06
18.7 LD
22
48
2019 XN
2019-Dec-06
2.4 LD
9.7
10
2019 WR3
2019-Dec-06
14.2 LD
7.5
97
2019 WJ6
2019-Dec-07
7.5 LD
21.1
48
2019 XP
2019-Dec-07
5.5 LD
12.2
17
2018 XW2
2019-Dec-07
17.4 LD
13
28
2019 VH5
2019-Dec-08
18 LD
9.8
76
2019 XY
2019-Dec-09
3.2 LD
13.1
9
2019 XB
2019-Dec-09
17.3 LD
7.9
69
2019 WT3
2019-Dec-09
9.8 LD
11
40
2019 WO2
2019-Dec-09
4.7 LD
7.5
32
2019 XW
2019-Dec-10
10.8 LD
15.6
59
2019 XO1
2019-Dec-13
7.9 LD
7.9
44
2019 WP6
2019-Dec-14
6.4 LD
4.4
22
2019 XF
2019-Dec-18
9.4 LD
24.1
77
216258
2019-Dec-20
15.3 LD
11.8
324
2013 XY20
2019-Dec-21
18.3 LD
1.9
28
2017 XQ60
2019-Dec-22
11 LD
15.6
47
310442
2019-Dec-26
19 LD
12.3
372
2019 WR4
2019-Dec-31
11.7 LD
4.2
21
2019 AE3
2020-Jan-02
4.9 LD
8.2
13
2019 UO
2020-Jan-10
11.8 LD
9.4
356
2019 WC5
2020-Jan-11
6.3 LD
13
108
2011 EP51
2020-Jan-15
19.6 LD
7.1
32
2017 RZ15
2020-Jan-15
12.1 LD
7.4
14
2009 BH2
2020-Jan-18
14.6 LD
17.9
118
2013 DU
2020-Jan-20
15.3 LD
6.4
59
2019 TF2
2020-Jan-23
16.2 LD
1.6
18
2018 BM5
2020-Jan-23
13.1 LD
8.6
12
2018 AL12
2020-Jan-30
18.2 LD
17.7
39
2018 BU1
2020-Feb-02
19.4 LD
10
41
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. This site is penned daily by Dr. Tony Phillips.
©2019 Spaceweather.com. All rights reserved.