Spotless Days Current Stretch: 0 days 2021 total: 60 days (20%) 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 01 Nov 2021
Thermosphere Climate Index today: 7.22x1010W Cold Max: 49.4x1010 W Hot (10/1957) Min: 2.05x1010 W Cold (02/2009) explanation | more data:gfx, txt Updated 01 Nov 2021
Cosmic RaysSolar 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: +8.1% High 48-hr change: -0.9% Max: +11.7% Very High (12/2009) Min: -32.1% Very Low (06/1991) explanation |more data Updated 01 Nov 2021 @ 1700 UT
Geomagnetic Storms: Probabilities for significant disturbances in Earth's magnetic field are given for three activity levels: active, minor storm, severe storm
Updated at: 2021 Oct 31 2200 UTC
Monday, Nov. 1, 2021
What's up in space
Lights Over Lapland has a full catalogue of exciting adventures in Abisko National Park, Sweden! Check out our daytime and evening activities and book your adventure!
ANOTHER SOLAR FLARE AND CME--UPDATED: Sunspot AR2887 erupted again on Nov. 1st (0145 UT), producing an M1-class solar flare and a plasma wave that rippled across half the solar disk: movie. The USAF reports Type II radio emissions which likely came from the shock front of a CME moving ~600 km/s through the sun's atmosphere. NOAA analysts are currently evaluating the possibility of a glancing blow from this CME on Nov. 4th. Stay tuned. Solar flare alerts:SMS Text.
AFTERGLOW OF A CME: A CME hit Earth's magnetic field on Oct. 31st. Its weak impact did not spark the strong geomagnetic storm forecasters expected. However, the afterglow was divine. Minoru Yoneto of Queenstown, New Zealand, took this picture as Earth was passing through the CME's wake:
"The auroras were faint," says Yoneto, "but we were lucky because they appeared on a clear night with a nearly New Moon. Please note that you need to use an astronomically modified camera to capture this much red color."
Red auroras were also seen in Tasmania. "The glow appeared in the south," says photographer Peter Sayers. "It was strong and visible from 9pm until 3am the next morning."
Among auroras, reds are the most delicate. They come from atomic oxygen near the top of Earth's atmosphere. Oxygen atoms excited by solar wind spit out red photons very slowly. The radiative lifetime of the transition is 110 seconds--an eternity at the quantum scale. The atoms must remain undisturbed that long to produce their eerie red light. Quiet, patience, and dark skies are required to catch them. Apparently, a weak Halloween CME helps, too. Aurora alerts:SMS Text.
STAR TREK WINE STOPPER: It's the most far-out wine stopper ever! On Sept. 9, 2021, the students of Earth to Sky Calculus launched the USS Enterprise to the stratosphere onboard a cosmic ray research balloon. Here is the starship-shaped stopper floating 105,563 feet above the rugged Sierra Nevada mountains of central California:
You can have it for $119.95. The students are selling these must-have bar accessories to support their cosmic ray research program. Each one comes with a greeting card showing the stopper in flight, telling the story of its trip to the edge of space and back again.
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 Nov 01, 2021, the network reported 21 fireballs. (12 sporadics, 4 Orionids, 4 northern Taurids, 1 omicron Eridanid)
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 November 1, 2021 there were 2226 potentially hazardous asteroids.
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 6 years, resulting in a unique dataset of in situ atmospheric measurements.
Latest results: Our most recent flight on June 25, 2021, confirms a trend of decreasing cosmic radiation:
Cosmic ray dose rates peaked in late 2019, and have been slowly declining ever since. This makes perfect sense. Solar Minimum was in late 2019. During Solar Minimum the sun's magnetic field weakens, allowing more cosmic rays into the solar system. We expect dose rate to be highest at that time.
Now that Solar Minimum has passed, the sun is waking up again. Solar magnetic fields are strengthening, providing a stiffer barrier to cosmic rays trying to enter the solar system. The decline of cosmic radiation above California is a sign that new Solar Cycle 25 is gaining strength.
.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) llink cosmic rays with cardiac arrhythmias and sudden cardiac death.
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 higher you fly, the more radiation you will absorb.
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.
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