Spotless Days Current Stretch: 0 days 2023 total: 0 days (0%) 2022 total: 1 day (<1%) 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 22 Apr 2023
Thermosphere Climate Index today: 20.29x1010W Warm Max: 49.4x1010 W Hot (10/1957) Min: 2.05x1010 W Cold (02/2009) explanation | more data:gfx, txt Updated 22 Apr 2023
Cosmic RaysSolar Cycle 25 is intensifying, 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: -1.0% Below average 48-hr change: +1.1% Max: +11.7% Very High (12/2009) Min: -32.1% Very Low (06/1991) explanation |more data Updated 22 Apr 2023 @ 0700 UT
Interplanetary Mag. Field Btotal: 5.35 nT Bz: 2.48 nT north more data: ACE, DSCOVR Updated: Today at 1146 UT
Coronal Holes: 22 Apr 23
There are no large coronal holes on the Earthside of the sun.Credit: SDO/AIA
Noctilucent Clouds Bad news: NASA's AIM spacecraft, which monitors noctilucent clouds, may be dead due to problems with an onboard battery. Mission controllers have not yet given up all hope, so stay tuned.
Geomagnetic Storms: Probabilities for significant disturbances in Earth's magnetic field are given for three activity levels: active, minor storm, severe storm
Updated at: 2023 Apr 22 2200 UTC
Saturday, Apr. 22, 2023
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 tour guides and professional astronomers use this service. You can, too!
WAS STARSHIP'S LAUNCH A FAILURE OR A SUCCESS? Earlier this week, SpaceX's Starship (the most powerful rocket ever built) exploded only 4 minutes after it launched. SpaceX engineers cheered. Eric Berger of Ars Technica explains why indeed the mishap may have been a success: Full story.
EARTH-DIRECTED EXPLOSION ON THE SUN--UPDATED: Earth is in the strike zone. Yesterday (April 21st), a large magnetic filament snaking across the sun's southern hemisphere exploded, hurling a cloud of debris in our direction. This movie from NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory shows what happened:
Soon after the eruption, the US Air Force reported strong Type II and Type IV solar radio bursts. These are natural shortwave emissions produced by shock waves preceding the CME as it passes through the sun's atmosphere. Drift rates in the Type II burst suggested a CME velocity of about 580 km/s (1.3 million mph).
Images from SOHO coronagraphs have since confirmed the CME. It is a "halo CME" heading straight for Earth:
Note: The star-like object at 3 o'clock is the planet Jupiter
Models from NASA and from NOAA agree: the CME should reach Earth during the early hours of April 24th between the hours of 00:00 and 12:00 UT. The impact could spark G1- (Minor) to G2-class (Moderate) geomagnetic storms. Aurora alerts:SMS Text.
A BURST OF STATIC FROM THE SUN: The explosion that hurled a CME toward Earth on April 21st also illuminated our planet with an intense burst of shortwave radio static. Amateur astronomer Thomas Ashcraft of New Mexico recorded the outburst:
"Few solar radio bursts show as hot purple on my spectrograph, but this one 'rang the bell'," he says. "Here is an audio recording in stereo with 22 MHz in one channel and 19 MHz in the other."
The static in Ashcraft's recording, which washes over the listener like a slow ocean wave, is naturally produced. Astronomers classify it as a Type V solar radio burst caused by energetic beams of electrons ray-gunning through the sun's atmosphere. The electrons were accelerated by the same underlying explosion that hurled a CME toward Earth.
Solar radio bursts are an underappreciated form of space weather. We often talk about radio blackouts, which happen when solar flares ionize the top of Earth's atmosphere. Radio blackouts suppress the normal propagation of terrestrial radio signals. Solar radio bursts, on the other hand, produce a radio drownout. Intense static from the sun overwhelms normal transmissions, drowning out the voices radio operators are trying to hear.
Solar radio bursts will happen more and more often as Solar Cycle 25 intensifies. You can hear them youself using a RadioJOVEradio telescope kit from NASA.
STERLING SILVER SIERRA MOONRISE PENDANT: Are you looking for a far-out gift? Consider the Sierra Moonrise Pendant. It flew to the edge of space on April 15, 2023, floating on a cosmic ray balloon 117,400 feet above the historically-snowy Sierra Nevada mountains of California:
You can have it for $179.95. The sterling silver pendant shows the craggy Sierra range with a full Moonstone rising overhead. It makes a great birthday, anniversary or Mother's day gift.
The students of Earth to Sky Calculus are selling space pendants to support their cosmic ray ballooning program. Each one comes with a greeting card showing the pendant in flight and telling the story of its journey to the stratosphere and back again
WHAT A SOLAR ECLIPSE SOUNDS LIKE: A solar eclipse happens when the Moon glides in front of the sun. It's a silent process; there is no sound in space. Yet when Joerg Schoppmeyer observed Thursday's total eclipse over Exmouth, Australia, he heard something. Turn up the volume and click play:
Hoots, cries of delight, and clapping can be heard from the crowd surrounding Schoppmeyer and his telescope. Eclipses are always accompanied by this soundtrack when humans are present. It's an emotional experience, and vocalizing is practically involuntary. Criers often become lifelong eclipse chasers.
"This was my 61st solar eclipse," says Schoppmeyer, "and conditions in Exmouth were ideal. The detailed 4K video was done with a Baader Travel Companion Telescope (560mm focal length) and a Canon EOS250D (1/1000s and ISO 100)."
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 Apr 22 2023, the network reported 27 fireballs. (15 sporadics, 11 Lyrids, 1 eta Aquariid)
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 22, 2023 there were 2316 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.
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 (July 2022): Atmospheric radiation is decreasing in 2022. Our latest measurements in July 2022 registered a 6-year low:
What's going on? Ironically, the radiation drop is caused by increasing solar activity. Solar Cycle 25 has roared to life faster than forecasters expected. The sun's strengthening and increasingly tangled magnetic field repels cosmic rays from deep space. In addition, solar coronal mass ejections (CMEs) sweep aside cosmic rays, causing sharp reductions called "Forbush Decreases." The two effects blend together to bring daily radiation levels down.
.Who cares? Cosmic rays are a surprisingly "down to Earth" form of space weather. They can alter the chemistry of the atmosphere, 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. A number of controversial studies (#1, #2, #3, #4) go even further, linking 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 graph labeled "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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