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SUNSET SKY SHOW: When the sun goes down tonight, step outside and look west. Jupiter and the crescent Moon are side-by-side in the sunset sky. If possible, try to catch them before the sky fades to black. There is a special beauty to the sight of two bright heavenly bodies framed by twilight blue. [sky map]
SOUTHERN LIGHTS: A fast-moving stream of solar wind is buffeting Earth's magnetic field today. This is causing intermittent G1-class geomagnetic storms and auroras around the poles. Ian Griffin sends this picture from Hoopers Inlet, Otago Peninsula, New Zealand:
"A lovely display of the aurora australis made my evening here in Dunedin," says Griffin. "It was the perfect end to a day, which I spent touring the SOFIA Observatory, presently deployed in Christchurch!"
NOAA forecasters say there is a 50% chance of additional geomagnetic storms on July 8th, waning to 25% on July 9th as Earth begins to exit the solar wind stream. Auroras could appear over both poles. Dark winter skies favor visibility in the southern hemisphere. Aurora alerts: text or voice
Realtime Aurora Photo Gallery
RADIO BEAMS FROM JUPITER HIT EARTH: Yesterday, a series of narrow radio beams from Jupiter reached Earth ... but they weren't from NASA's Juno spacecraft. They came from Jupiter itself. Natural radio lasers in Jupiter's magnetosphere send shortwave signals into space and occasionally they sweep past Earth. "I picked them up in broad daylight," says Thomas Ashcraft, who operates an amateur radio telescope in rural New Mexico. Click on the image to hear the static-y sounds that emerged from his loudspeaker:
Each pop and click is the sound of a single beam washing over our planet. "The interesting thing to me," says Ashcraft, "is that unbeknownst to us Jupiter radio beams are often sweeping over us, actually washing over our bodies if we are outside at the time."
The lasers are powered, in part, by electrical currents flowing between Jupiter's upper atmosphere and the volcanic moon Io. When the geometry is just right, and Earth is in line with the beams, they are easily detected by ham radio antennas on Earth. Jovian "S-bursts" (short bursts) and "L-bursts" (long bursts) mimic the sounds of woodpeckers, whales, and waves crashing on the beach. Here are a few audio samples: S-bursts, S-bursts (slowed down 128:1), L-Bursts
Now is a good time to listen to Jupiter's radio storms. The giant planet is high in the sky at sunset and, thanks to the crashing solar cycle, background noise is low. There are few solar radio bursts to overwhelm Jupiter and terrestrial stations are having a hard time bouncing over the horizon as ionizing radiation from the sun ebbs. Ready to start taking data? NASA's Radio Jove Project explains how to build your own receiver.
A DRONE IN THE STRATOSPHERE: Spaceweather.com and the students of Earth to Sky Calculus recently flew a toy drone all the way to the stratosphere. Here it is en route to the edge of space above the White Mountains of central California on June 29th:
How did it get there? Small drones can't fly in the thin air 100,000 feet above Earth's surface; their tiny propellers don't generate enough lift.
Mystery solved: This unpowered drone was carried aloft by a helium balloon. Here it is moments before launch:
The black rectangle just above the drone is a Richo Theta S spherical camera. It's the device that photographed the drone in flight and removed the thin black rope from the scene. The fully-interactive spherical image is fun to explore!
We flew this drone as a promotion for World Tech Toys, who generously sponsored our cosmic ray payload, also shown in the picture above. It's the red capsule underneath the balloon. This flight and others like them are not only fun, but also they contribute to a crucial record of intensifying cosmic rays in the stratosphere.
Readers, if you would like to send an item of your own to the top of Earth's atmosphere, you can book a flight with as little as two week's notice. Contact Dr. Tony Phillips to become a sponsor!
Realtime Space Weather Photo Gallery
Realtime Noctilucent Cloud Photo Gallery
Realtime Sprite Photo Gallery
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 Jul. 8, 2016, the network reported 15 fireballs.
(13 sporadics, 1 theta Perseid, 1 Northern June Aquilid)
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]
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 July 8, 2016 there were 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
These measurements are based on regular space weather balloon flights: learn more.
|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)
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. 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.
|The official U.S. government space weather bureau
|The first place to look for information about sundogs, pillars, rainbows and related phenomena.
|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
|Realtime and archival images of the Sun from SOHO.
|from the NOAA Space Environment Center
|the underlying science of space weather
|Tobi -- Proud Supporter of Space Education!
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