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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Solar wind
speed: 348.5 km/sec
density: 6.0 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2348 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: B6
2300 UT Apr08
24-hr: C1
1638 UT Apr08
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2300 UT
Daily Sun: 08 Apr 16
New sunspot AR2529 is relatively large, but it appears to have a simple magnetic field that poses little threat for strong solar flares. Credit: SDO/HMI

Sunspot number: 26
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 08 Apr 2016

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 0 days
2016 total: 0 days (0%)
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 08 Apr 2016

The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 92 sfu
explanation | more data
Updated 08 Apr 2016

Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
Credit: NOAA/Ovation
Planetary K-index
Now: Kp= 1 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 5
explanation | more data
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 4.7 nT
Bz: 4.4 nT north
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2349 UT
Coronal Holes: 08 Apr 16

Solar wind flowing from the indicated coronal hole should reach Earth on April 12-13. Credit: SDO/AIA.
Noctilucent Clouds The southern season for noctilucent clouds began on Dec. 13, 2015. It is expected to end in late February or March 2016.
Switch view: Ross Ice Shelf, Antarctic Peninsula, East Antarctica, Polar
Updated at: 02-12-2016 16:55:02
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2016 Apr 08 2200 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
10 %
10 %
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: 2016 Apr 08 2200 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
20 %
10 %
05 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
15 %
15 %
25 %
10 %
25 %
10 %
Friday, Apr. 8, 2016
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

SPACE WEATHER ON FACEBOOK: Are you on Facebook? Good news: So is! If you would like to see our daily content in your Facebook feed, just click here and follow us.

SUNSET SKY SHOW: When the sun goes down tonight, step outside and look west. Mercury and the slender crescent Moon are shining side-by-side in the rosy glow of sunset. If you can't see them with the unaided eye, try binoculars. It's a great way to end the day. [sky map]

GEOMAGNETIC STORM: On April 7th, Earth crossed a fold in the heliospheric current sheet, plunging our planet into a region of space filled with "negative-polarity" magnetic fields. This sparked a G1-class geomagnetic storm and bright auroras around the Arctic Circle. "Suddenly, the sky exploded in color," reports Janne Maj Nagelsen, who took this picture from Stamnes, Vaksdal, Norway:

"I've waited for so many years to take this picture, because the Northern Lights has never been high enough in the sky before," says Nagelsen. "It was amazing."

Many people have never heard of the heliospheric current sheet. It is one of the biggest things in the solar system--a vast undulating system of electrical currents shaped like the skirt of a ballerina: picture. Earth dips in and out of it all the time.

NOAA forecasters estimate a 55% chance of continued storming on April 8th as Earth slowly exits this region of space. High-latitude sky watchers should remain alert for auroras. Aurora alerts: text or voice

Realtime Aurora Photo Gallery

PLANET-SIZED SUNSPOT: As expected, a large sunspot has emerged over the sun's northwestern limb. AR2529 has a dark core as wide as Earth itself, as shown in this April 8th photo taken by Philippe Tosi of Nîmes, France:

Sunspots are, essentially, islands of magnetism floating in a sea of solar plasma. This island is as wide as a planet. Magnetic fields arching above a sunspot can become tangled. They criss-cross and reconnect, exploding with the force of millions of atomic bombs. However, such a "solar flare" is unlikely in this case because the magnetic field of sunspot AR2529 is not tangled; it is stable and poses little threat for strong explosions. Solar activity is expected to remain low this weekend.

Realtime Space Weather Photo Gallery

ANTARCTIC LIGHTS: When the sun goes down over Halley Research Station in Antarctica, the darkening sky usually turns an icy shade of sunset red. On April 2nd, the primary color was, instead, green:

"The auroras were incredibly fast moving and at times covered with entire sky," says photographer Greig Lawson, the station's doctor, who ventured out onto the ice during a G2-class geomagnetic storm. "They were clearly visible even while the sun was still setting."

Operated by the British Antarctic Survey, the Halley Research Station is known for its studies of ozone, cosmic rays, and climate change. It is located on the Brunt Ice Shelf, a 130 meter thick slab of frozen water that floats atop the Weddell Sea. Such a platform is a dangerous place to be. Pieces of the shelf frequently break off, or "calve," giving birth to new icebergs. The current base structure, Halley VI, can avoid unstable ice by relocating itself. The station's colorful modules are built upon huge hydraulic skis.

Lawson will be busy in the months ahead tending to the station's wintertime staff of 16. Hopefully, he'll have time send more pictures. As the Arctic brightens, making Northern Lights difficult to see, the Antarctic will darken, providing a velvety canvas for geomagnetic storms to paint their colors on southern skies.

Realtime Space Weather Photo Gallery

Solar Eclipse Photo Gallery

Realtime Comet Photo Gallery
[More about Comet 252P: brightness measurements, 3D orbit, orbital elements]

  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 Apr. 8, 2016, the network reported 2 fireballs.
(2 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 April 8, 2016 there were potentially hazardous asteroids.
Recent & Upcoming Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
2002 AJ29
Apr 6
55.2 LD
1.5 km
2016 FT13
Apr 7
9.8 LD
18 m
2016 GH3
Apr 8
7.9 LD
25 m
2016 GF2
Apr 8
4.6 LD
21 m
2002 EB3
Apr 8
55.6 LD
1.2 km
2016 GO134
Apr 8
0.9 LD
15 m
2016 GK134
Apr 9
5.2 LD
15 m
2016 FG39
Apr 10
4.5 LD
25 m
2009 KJ
Apr 10
37.7 LD
1.6 km
2016 FV13
Apr 11
1.8 LD
28 m
2016 GU
Apr 11
2.7 LD
32 m
2005 GR33
Apr 13
7.7 LD
175 m
2016 GC134
Apr 13
9.1 LD
26 m
2016 FL12
Apr 13
9.6 LD
24 m
2016 FS14
Apr 14
13.7 LD
41 m
2016 FL13
Apr 15
9.8 LD
36 m
2008 HU4
Apr 16
4.9 LD
10 m
2016 GM2
Apr 16
12.7 LD
47 m
2016 FY12
Apr 17
5.9 LD
24 m
2016 FN13
Apr 19
13.9 LD
13 m
2016 GC1
Apr 21
8.9 LD
23 m
2016 FH12
Apr 23
7.8 LD
21 m
2016 FY3
Apr 25
6.3 LD
310 m
2001 VG5
Apr 28
52.4 LD
1.8 km
2014 US115
May 1
9.4 LD
52 m
2008 TZ3
May 5
13.1 LD
355 m
2014 JG55
May 8
7.6 LD
7 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 (411 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. For example, here is the data from a flight on Oct. 22, 2015:

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
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