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SpaceWeather.com -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
 
Solar wind
speed: 509.9 km/sec
density: 9.6 protons/cm3
more data: ACE, DSCOVR
Updated: Today at 2346 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A3
1828 UT Mar30
24-hr: A3
1743 UT Mar30
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2350 UT
Daily Sun: 30 Mar 20
A small sunspot is emerging at the circled location. Credit: SDO/HMI

Sunspot number: 11
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 30 Mar 2020

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 0 days
2020 total: 69 days (77%)
2019 total: 281 days (77%)
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 30 Mar 2020


Thermosphere Climate Index
today: 3.81
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 30 Mar 2020

The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 68 sfu
explanation | more data
Updated 30 Mar 2020

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: +10.8% Very High
48-hr change: +0.3%
Max: +11.7% Very High
(12/2009)
Min: -32.1% Very Low (06/1991)
explanation | more data
Updated 30 Mar 2020 @ 1600 UT

Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
Credit: NOAA/Ovation
Planetary K-index
Now: Kp= 3 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 3
quiet
explanation | more data
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 6.3 nT
Bz: 0.6 nT north
more data: ACE, DSCOVR
Updated: Today at 2345 UT
Coronal Holes: 30 Mar 20

Solar wind flowing from this southern coronal hole should reach Earth on March 30-31.
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: 03-02-2020 17:55:02 UT
SPACE WEATHER
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2020 Mar 30 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: 2020 Mar 30 2200 UTC
Mid-latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
ACTIVE
35 %
30 %
MINOR
15 %
10 %
SEVERE
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
ACTIVE
15 %
15 %
MINOR
30 %
30 %
SEVERE
50 %
40 %
 
Monday, Mar. 30, 2020
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!

 

THE SOLAR WIND HAS ARRIVED: As predicted, a stream of solar wind is buffeting Earth's magnetic field today, March 30th. Full-fledged geomagnetic storms are not expected, but the action of the solar wind could spark dynamic auroras around the Arctic Circle. The gaseous material is slowing from a southern hole in the sun's atmosphere. Aurora alerts: SMS Text.

A SUNSPOT FROM THE NEXT SOLAR CYCLE: A sunspot is emerging over the sun's northeastern limb, and it appears to be a member of the next solar cycle. The unnumbered active region is inset in this magnetic map of the sun's surface from NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory:

How do we know this sunspot belongs to the next solar cycle? Its magnetic polarity tells us so. Northern sunspots from old Solar Cycle 24 have a +/- polarity. This sunspot appears to be the opposite: -/+. According to Hale’s Law, sunspots switch polarities from one solar cycle to the next. The sunspot is therefore a member of Solar Cycle 25.

This new active region continues a trend of increasing Solar Cycle 25 activity. So far this year, there have been 4 officially-numbered sunspots. Three of them (75%) have been from Solar Cycle 25. This compares to only 17% in 2019 and 0% in 2018. Solar Cycle 25 is still weak, but it is coming.

Realtime Space Weather Photo Gallery
Free:
Spaceweather.com Newsletter

FAR-OUT MOTHER'S DAY GIFT: It’s sterling silver and perfect for Mother’s Day! On March 5th, the students of Earth to Sky Calculus flew a cosmic ray balloon to the stratosphere, more than 94,000 feet above Earth's surface. This "Loving Hands" pendant went along for the ride:

You can have one for $129.95. The students are selling these pendants as a fund-raiser for their cosmic ray monitoring program. All proceeds support atmospheric radiation measurements and hands-on STEM education. Each pendant comes with a greeting card showing the jewelry in flight and telling the story of its journey to the stratosphere and back again.

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

SATURDAY NIGHT SKY SHOW: Saturday night was a good time to be outside. Just after sundown, the crescent Moon joined Venus and the Pleiades for a rare 3-way conjunction in the western sky. Mark A. Brown photographed the display from Troy Mills, Iowa:

"Venus continues to shine like a silvery-white beacon in the western sky, not setting for about 3 hours after sundown," says Brown. "On March 28th, the lovely crescent Moon joined the bright planet at dusk, making for an eye-catching pair of celestial jewels alongside the delicate Pleiades."

And, of course, "two Starlink satellites photobombed my exposure," he adds. "In the image above they are cutting through the windmill."

Saturday night's conjunction sets the stage for an even rarer event next weekend. Every night this week, Venus and the Pleiades will inch closer and closer together until, on April 3rd, Venus is actually inside the star cluster. It's the kind of conjunction that only happens once every 8 years. Don't miss it! Sky maps: March 28, 29, 30, 31, April 1, 2, 3.

Realtime Space Weather Photo Gallery
Free:
Spaceweather.com Newsletter


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 Mar. 30, 2020, the network reported 3 fireballs.
(3 sporadics)

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 March 30, 2020 there were 2018 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Recent & Upcoming Earth-asteroid encounters:
Asteroid
Date(UT)
Miss Distance
Velocity (km/s)
Diameter (m)
2020 FJ4
2020-Mar-25
0.7 LD
13.7
5
2020 FB
2020-Mar-25
8.6 LD
4.7
30
2020 FZ5
2020-Mar-26
11.6 LD
16.6
31
2020 FV4
2020-Mar-26
9.8 LD
8.5
29
2020 FP
2020-Mar-27
14.7 LD
9.5
24
2012 XA133
2020-Mar-27
17.4 LD
23.7
235
2020 FV3
2020-Mar-27
10.3 LD
6.5
11
2020 FM5
2020-Mar-27
5.4 LD
5.5
7
2020 FT5
2020-Mar-27
9.7 LD
13.2
23
2020 FZ2
2020-Mar-27
14 LD
21.3
34
2020 FW5
2020-Mar-28
9.3 LD
13.6
25
2020 FE2
2020-Mar-28
4.5 LD
7.1
22
2010 GD35
2020-Mar-29
15.3 LD
12
43
2020 FK4
2020-Mar-29
4.4 LD
5.3
11
2006 FH36
2020-Mar-30
11.3 LD
5.1
93
2020 FB1
2020-Mar-30
19.1 LD
10.5
27
2020 FB4
2020-Mar-31
12 LD
6.2
16
2020 FA1
2020-Mar-31
18.3 LD
2.2
18
2020 FG6
2020-Apr-02
5.4 LD
7.1
14
2019 GM1
2020-Apr-02
9 LD
4.2
14
2020 FK3
2020-Apr-03
10.4 LD
9.7
27
2015 FC35
2020-Apr-04
10.5 LD
13.8
148
2020 FL6
2020-Apr-04
5.1 LD
12.1
32
2020 DT3
2020-Apr-05
17.6 LD
11.8
200
2020 FQ6
2020-Apr-06
17.9 LD
11.2
32
2020 FL4
2020-Apr-09
10.5 LD
4.6
16
2020 FW4
2020-Apr-09
19.7 LD
18.6
162
2019 HM
2020-Apr-10
7.2 LD
3.2
23
363599
2020-Apr-11
19.2 LD
24.5
224
2020 FX3
2020-Apr-15
14.1 LD
10.2
56
2019 HS2
2020-Apr-26
13.6 LD
12.6
17
2019 GF1
2020-Apr-27
18.7 LD
3.2
12
2020 FM6
2020-Apr-27
14.7 LD
17
147
52768
2020-Apr-29
16.4 LD
8.7
2457
2020 DM4
2020-May-01
18.4 LD
6.4
165
438908
2020-May-07
8.9 LD
12.8
282
2016 HP6
2020-May-07
4.3 LD
5.7
31
388945
2020-May-10
7.3 LD
8.8
295
2000 KA
2020-May-12
8.9 LD
13.5
162
478784
2020-May-15
8.5 LD
3.6
28
136795
2020-May-21
16.1 LD
11.7
892
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 Regener-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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