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SpaceWeather.com -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
 
Solar wind
speed: 479.9 km/sec
density: 1.37 protons/cm3
more data: ACE, DSCOVR
Updated: Today at 1145 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: C1
1906 UT May21
24-hr: C3
0013 UT May21
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2350 UT
Daily Sun: 21 May 22
Expand: labels | no labels
Sunspot AR3014 has a 'beta-gamma-delta' magnetic field that poses a threat for X-class solar flares. Credit: SDO/HMI

Sunspot number: 109
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 21 May 2022

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 0 days
2022 total: 0 days (0%)
2021 total: 64 days (18%)
2020 total: 208 days (57%)
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 21 May 2022


Thermosphere Climate Index
today: 15.43
x1010 W Neutral
Max: 49.4
x1010 W Hot (10/1957)
Min: 2.05
x1010 W Cold (02/2009)
explanation | more data: gfx, txt
Updated 21 May 2022

The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 166 sfu
explanation | more data
Updated 21 May 2022

Cosmic Rays Solar Cycle 25 is beginning, and this is reflected in the number of cosmic rays entering Earth's atmosphere. Neutron counts from the University of Oulu's Sodankyla Geophysical Observatory show that cosmic rays reaching Earth are slowly declining--a result of the yin-yang relationship between the solar cycle and cosmic rays.

Oulu Neutron Counts

Percentages of the Space Age average:
today: +3.2% Elevated
48-hr change: -2.0%
Max: +11.7% Very High
(12/2009)
Min: -32.1% Very Low (06/1991)
explanation | more data
Updated 21 May 2022 @ 1700 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
quiet
explanation | more data
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 5.24 nT
Bz: -4.36 nT south
more data: ACE, DSCOVR
Updated: Today at 1145 UT
Coronal Holes: 21 May 22

Earth is inside a stream of solar wind flowing from the indicated coronal hole.
Credit: SDO/AIA

Noctilucent Clouds
NASA's AIM spacecraft has started monitoring the north pole for signs of noctilucent clouds. The first NLCs of the season are expected to appear in mid-May.
Switch view: Europe, USA, Asia, Polar
Updated May21
SPACE WEATHER
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2022 May 21 2200 UTC
FLARE
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
CLASS M
40 %
40 %
CLASS X
05 %
05 %
Geomagnetic Storms:
Probabilities for significant disturbances in Earth's magnetic field are given for three activity levels: active, minor storm, severe storm
Updated at: 2022 May 21 2200 UTC
Mid-latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
ACTIVE
25 %
10 %
MINOR
05 %
01 %
SEVERE
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
ACTIVE
15 %
15 %
MINOR
30 %
20 %
SEVERE
30 %
20 %
 
Saturday, May. 21, 2022
What's up in space
       
 

Never miss another geomagnetic storm. Sign up for Space Weather Alerts and you'll receive a text message when magnetic storms erupt. Aurora your guides and professional astronomers use this service. You can, too!

 

CHANCE OF FLARES TODAY: Big sunspot AR3014 has an unstable 'beta-gamma-delta' magnetic field that harbors energy for strong explosions. Today there is a 40% chance of M-class flares and a 5% chance of X-flares, according to NOAA. Solar flare alerts: SMS Text

SETTING SUNSPOTS: Solar Cycle 25 is changing the way days end. The setting sun is now spotted. Valerie Liard took this picture yesterday evening from Epernay, France:

"Sunspot AR3014 was visible on the solar disk," says Liard. "A plane flew by just as I was taking the picture; the sunspot was much larger."

Indeed, AR3014 is one of the largest sunspots in years. Stretching more than 125,000 km from end to end, its length is almost 1/3rd of the distance from Earth to the Moon. AR3014 is so big it is technically a "naked eye" sunspot. In other words, you can see it without magnification. If you have a pair of eclipse glasses, put them on and take a look.

Warning: Never stare at the unfiltered sun. Liard's picture was taken when the sun was dimmed by low-hanging clouds and haze. Even then, magnified sunlight can damage your eyes. Always use safe solar filters.

Realtime Space Weather Photo Gallery
Free:
Spaceweather.com Newsletter

A REVERSE SPLASH ON THE SUN: Sometimes movies are more fun to watch in reverse. Here's an example from May 20th. See how a dark mass of plasma falls on to the surface of the sun and makes a fiery splash:

You just watched a movie of a solar flare in reverse. Here's what really happened. An emerging sunspot near AR3014 exploded, hurling a dark mass of plasma into space. The debris is not expected to hit Earth. See the original movie from NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory.

Realtime Space Weather Photo Gallery
Free:
Spaceweather.com Newsletter

STERLING SILVER HUMMINGBIRD: Are you looking for a far-out gift? Consider the Sterling Silver Hummingbird. This one hitched a ride to the stratosphere onboard a cosmic ray research balloon on May 13, 2022:

You can have it for $159.95. At the apex of the flight, the hummingbird floated 112,336 feet above the snow-capped Sierra Nevada mountains while sensors in the payload measured cosmic rays. It makes a great anniversary or birthday gift.

The hummingbird comes with a greeting card showing the pendant in flight, telling the story of its trip to the edge of space and back again. Bonus: The pendant contains a tiny 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 May 21, 2022, the network reported 15 fireballs.
(15 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 May 21, 2022 there were 2281 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Recent & Upcoming Earth-asteroid encounters:
Asteroid
Date(UT)
Miss Distance
Velocity (km/s)
Diameter (m)
2022 JC1
2022-May-16
6.4 LD
10
31
2013 UX
2022-May-17
16.8 LD
16.3
141
2022 KG
2022-May-18
6.9 LD
9.2
27
2021 WY
2022-May-18
16.9 LD
9
65
2022 JQ1
2022-May-19
11.5 LD
4.9
22
2022 HD1
2022-May-20
15.3 LD
6.8
60
2013 KS1
2022-May-24
2.6 LD
9.3
16
7335
2022-May-27
10.5 LD
13.1
1078
2022 JU1
2022-May-27
15.1 LD
6.1
37
2022 KA
2022-May-28
14.8 LD
8.6
32
2022 JY
2022-May-28
15.1 LD
10.9
67
2021 KO2
2022-May-30
3.1 LD
14.8
9
2022 HT2
2022-May-30
11.9 LD
15.7
224
2020 DA4
2022-Jun-01
5.5 LD
8.9
26
2021 GT2
2022-Jun-06
9.5 LD
7.5
50
2018 LU2
2022-Jun-09
14.8 LD
10.7
16
2006 XW4
2022-Jun-12
5.9 LD
7.3
49
2022 GU6
2022-Jun-12
3.2 LD
8.4
88
2015 WP2
2022-Jun-26
18.5 LD
11.4
3
2022 JE1
2022-Jul-03
8.5 LD
5.6
72
2021 EL4
2022-Jul-05
19.8 LD
9.5
25
2015 OQ21
2022-Jul-12
18.3 LD
6.6
9
2021 OT
2022-Jul-17
16.5 LD
11.2
20
349068
2022-Jul-19
17.6 LD
22.9
756
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

SPACE WEATHER BALLOON DATA: Almost 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 sensors that detect secondary cosmic rays, a form of radiation from space that can penetrate all the way down to Earth's surface. Our monitoring program has been underway without interruption for 7 years, resulting in a unique dataset of in situ atmospheric measurements.

Latest results (Nov. 2021): Our balloons have just measured a sudden drop in atmospheric radiation. It happened during the strong geomagnetic storms of Nov. 3-4, 2021. Here are the data:

This is called a "Forbush decrease," named after American physicist Scott Forbush who studied cosmic rays in the early 20th century.  It happens when a CME from the sun sweeps past Earth and literally pushes cosmic rays away from our planet. Radiation from deep space that would normally pepper Earth's upper atmosphere is briefly wiped out.

We have measured Forbush decreases before. For example, here's one from Sept. 2014. The Forbush Decrease of Nov. 3-4, 2021, was the deepest in the history of our 7-year atmospheric monitoring program. Radiation levels in the stratosphere over California dropped nearly 20%, more than doubling the previous record from our dataset. 

En route to the stratosphere, our sensors also pass through aviation altitudes, so we can sample radiation where planes fly. This plot shows how the Forbush decrease was restricted to the stratosphere; it did not affect lower levels of the atmosphere:

The dose rates shown above are expressed 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 higher you fly, the more radiation you will absorb.

.Who cares? Cosmic rays are a surprisingly "down to Earth" form of space weather. They can seed clouds, trigger lightning, and penetrate commercial airplanes. According to a study from the Harvard T.H. Chan school of public health, crews of aircraft have higher rates of cancer than the general population. The researchers listed cosmic rays, irregular sleep habits, and chemical contaminants as leading risk factors. Somewhat more controversial studies (#1, #2, #3, #4) link cosmic rays with cardiac arrhythmias and sudden cardiac death.

.Technical notes: 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.

Data points in the first graph ("Stratospheric Radiation") 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 Regener and Georg Pfotzer discovered the maximum using balloons in the 1930s and it is what we are measuring today.

  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.
SolarMonitor.org
  information about sunspots based on the latest NOAA/USAF Active Region Summary
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
Live Aurora Webcam
  from Lights over Lapland
Heliophysics
  the underlying science of space weather

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