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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Solar wind
speed: 684.4 km/sec
density: 2.2 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2348 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: C5
1909 UT Nov03
24-hr: C5
1909 UT Nov03
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2300 UT
Daily Sun: 03 Nov 15
Sunspot AR2443 has a 'beta-delta' magnetic field that harbors energy for strong M-class solar flares. Credit: SDO/HMI

Sunspot number: 94
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 03 Nov 2015

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 0 days
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%)

Updated 03 Nov 2015

The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 122 sfu
explanation | more data
Updated 03 Nov 2015

Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
Credit: NOAA/Ovation
Planetary K-index
Now: Kp= 5 storm
24-hr max: Kp= 5
explanation | more data
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 5.1 nT
Bz: 1.3 nT south
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2347 UT
Coronal Holes: 03 Nov 15

High-speed solar wind flowing from this equatorial coronal hole could reach Earth on Nov. 3rd. Credit: SDO/AIA.
Noctilucent Clouds The northern season for NLCs is finished. According to NASA's AIM spacecraft, the last clouds were observed over Greenland on Aug. 27th. Now the waiting begins for the southern season expected to begin in November.
Switch view: Europe, USA, Asia, Polar
Updated at: 09-01-2015 09:00:00
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2015 Nov 03 2210 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
50 %
45 %
10 %
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: 2015 Nov 03 2210 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
35 %
30 %
40 %
10 %
05 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
05 %
15 %
20 %
30 %
70 %
35 %
Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2015
What's up in space

Marianne's Heaven On Earth Aurora Chaser Tours invites you to join them in their quest to find and photograph the Aurora Borealis. Experience the winter wonderland in the Tromsø Area.

Chase the Light Tours

SOLAR WIND BRINGS AURORAS: As predicted, a high-speed stream of solar wind has reached Earth and is buffeting our planet's magnetic field. So far, however, there has been only mild geomagnetic storming. Magnetic fields inside the solar wind stream are not well-connected to Earth's magnetic field, and that mismatch is mitigating its impact.

Despite the mismatch, sky watchers are still seeing some beautiful auroras. Rocky Raybell photographed this display--split down the middle by a Taurid fireball--from Keller, Washington, during the early hours of Nov. 3rd:

"The auroras were not as strong as I expected," he says, "but the fireball made up for any shortcomings." Elsewhere in the United States, auroras were sighted in Michigan, Wisconsin, Montana, and even Ohio.

More auroras are possible tonight, especially around the Arctic Circle, as the solar wind continues to blow. NOAA forecasters estimate an 85% chance of polar geomagnetic storms on Nov. 3rd, waning to 70% on Nov. 4th. Aurora alerts: text or voice

Realtime Aurora Photo Gallery

VOLCANIC LIGHTNING IN MEXICO: In southern Mexico, the Colima volcano has been in a state of near-constant activity since 1994. It's not unusual for several explosions to occur in a single day, throwing plumes of ash 2 or 3 kilometers into the sky. On Oct. 28th, reader Thorsten Boeckel was on hand for one of those eruptions--a nighttime blast--and he photographed a violent display of volcanic lightning:

"This mighty stroke illuminated the ash discharge, which rose up over the crater of the 3860m high Colima Volcano," he says. "Pure fascination!"

Researchers have long known that volcanic eruptions produce strong lightning. Findings published in a 2012 Eos article reveal that the largest volcanic storms can rival massive supercell thunderstorms in the American midwest. But why? Volcanic lightning is not well understood.

Lightning is nature's way of correcting an imbalance of electric charge. In ordinary thunderstorms, one part of a thundercloud becomes positively charged, and another part becomes negatively charged. This charge comes from collisions between particles. Droplets of water and crystals of ice rub together, creating static electricity in much the same way as woolen socks rubbed against carpet. Lightning arcs between charge-separated regions.

Something similar must be happening inside volcanic plumes. One hypothesis holds that catapulting magma bubbles or volcanic ash are themselves electrically charged, and by their motion create charge-separated areas. Another possibility is that particles of volcanic ash collide with each other and become charged through triboelectric rubbing. In short, no one knows. It is a beautiful (and terrifying) mystery.

GIANT SUNSPOT HIDES SPACESHIP: Sunspot AR2443 is so big, it is attracting the attention of astrophotographers around the world. Yesterday when Peter Rosén of Stockholm, Sweden, photographed the sprawling complex, he found a spaceship hiding among its dark cores. Seriously. Take a close look at the image below:

Can't find the spaceship? Click here and here. "It is the International Space Station," explains Rosén. "I caught it making a split-second transit of the giant sunspot."

Indeed, AR244 is huge. From end to end it measures almost 200,000 km. Many of the dark cores are as large as terrestrial continents--and a couple are as large as Earth itself. These dimensions make it an easy target for backyard solar telecopes.

Of greater interest is the sunspot's potential for explosive activity. The spotty complex has a 'beta-delta' magnetic field that harbors energy for strong M-class solar flares. Any such explosions will be geoeffective as the sunspot turns squarely toward Earth in the days ahead. Solar flare alerts: text or voice

Realtime Space Weather Photo Gallery

Realtime Meteor Photo Gallery

  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

On Nov. 3, 2015, the network reported 61 fireballs.
(36 sporadics, 22 Northern Taurids, 2 Orionids, 1 chi 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 November 3, 2015 there were 1632 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Recent & Upcoming Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
2015 UH
Oct 29
9.4 LD
36 m
2015 TB145
Oct 31
1.3 LD
450 m
2015 TD179
Nov 4
10.5 LD
52 m
2005 UL5
Nov 20
5.9 LD
390 m
2003 EB50
Nov 29
48.8 LD
2.2 km
2007 BG29
Dec 1
54.1 LD
1.1 km
1998 WT24
Dec 11
10.9 LD
1.1 km
2011 YD29
Dec 24
9.7 LD
24 m
2003 SD220
Dec 24
28.4 LD
1.8 km
2008 CM
Dec 29
22.8 LD
1.5 km
2004 MQ1
Jan 2
55.4 LD
1.1 km
1999 JV6
Jan 6
12.6 LD
410 m
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
Situation Report -- Oct. 30, 2015 Stratospheric Radiation (+37o N)
Cosmic ray levels are elevated (+6.1% above the Space Age median). The trend is flat. Cosmic ray levels have increased +0% in the past month.
Sept. 06: 4.14 uSv/hr (414 uRad/hr)
Sept. 12: 4.09 uSv/hr (409 uRad/hr)
Sept. 23: 4.12 uSv/hr (412 uRad/hr)
Sept. 25: 4.16 uSv/hr (416 uRad/hr)
Sept. 27: 4.13 uSv/hr (413 uRad/hr)
Oct. 11: 4.02 uSv/hr (402 uRad/hr)
Oct. 22: 4.11 uSv/hr (402 uRad/hr)
These measurements are based on regular space weather balloon flights: learn more.

Approximately once a week, 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. Our measurements show that someone flying back and forth across the continental USA, just once, can absorb as much ionizing radiation as 2 to 5 dental X-rays. Here is the data from our latest flight, Oct. 22nd:

Radiation levels peak at the entrance to the stratosphere in a broad region called the "Pfotzer Maximum." This peak is named after physicist George Pfotzer who discovered it using balloons and Geiger tubes in the 1930s. Radiation levels there are more than 80x sea level.

Note that the bottom of the Pfotzer Maximim is near 55,000 ft. This means that some high-flying aircraft are not far from the zone of maximum radiation. Indeed, according to the Oct 22th measurements, a plane flying at 45,000 feet is exposed to 2.79 uSv/hr. At that rate, a passenger would absorb about one dental X-ray's worth of radiation in about 5 hours.

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.

  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.
  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
  the underlying science of space weather
Columbia Northern High School
  Web-based high school science course with free enrollment
  more links...
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