Sunspot AR2887 has a 'beta-gamma' magnetic field that harbors energy for strong M-class and X-class solar flares. Any eruptions today will be geoeffective because the sunspot is almost directly facing Earth. Credit: SDO/HMI
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 29 Oct 2021
Thermosphere Climate Index today: 6.80x1010W Cold Max: 49.4x1010 W Hot (10/1957) Min: 2.05x1010 W Cold (02/2009) explanation | more data:gfx, txt Updated 25 Oct 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: +9.2% High 48-hr change: +0.6% Max: +11.7% Very High (12/2009) Min: -32.1% Very Low (06/1991) explanation |more data Updated 29 Oct 2021 @ 0700 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 29 2200 UTC
Friday, Oct. 29, 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!
GEOMAGNETIC STORM WATCH: A strong G3-class geomagnetic storm is possible on Oct. 30th when the CME from yesterday's X1-flare is expected to hit Earth's magnetic field. Such storms can spark naked-eye auroras as far south as Illinois and Oregon (typically 50° geomagnetic latitude) and photographic auroras at even lower latitudes. Lesser G1 and G2-class storms could persist through Halloween as Earth passes through the CME's wake. Aurora alerts:SMS Text.
THE CORONAL MASS EJECTION: Here it comes. A coronal mass ejection (CME) launched into space on Oct. 28th by exploding sunspot AR2887 is heading almost directly for Earth. SOHO coronagraphs recorded the CME racing away from the sun faster than 1457 km/s (3.3 million mph):
The movie is full of "snow"--speckles caused by solar protons striking the coronagraph's CCD camera. These particles were accelerated toward the spacecraft (and toward Earth) by shock waves in the leading edge of the CME. Traveling at relativistic speeds, the protons reached us in less than an hour. The CME itself will take more than two days to cross the sun-Earth divide. ETA: Oct. 30th. Aurora alerts:SMS Text.
SOLAR RADIO BURST: Who says explosions in space make no sound? Yesterday's X1-class solar flare created a loud burst of static in shortwave radio receivers on Earth. Click to hear what emerged from Thomas Ashcraft's loudspeaker in rural New Mexico:
"I captured the X1 flare on my spectrograph and audio recorders," says Ashcraft. "It was super dynamic. It is not often to see a solar radio event showing up in purple range on my radio telescope."
Astronomers classify solar radio bursts into 5 types. Ashcraft recorded a mixture of Type II and Type V. These are caused, respectively, by shock waves and electron beams moving through the sun's atmosphere in the aftermath of strong flares. Solar flare alerts:SMS Text.
THE CITRINE X-PENDANT: It's the color of a sunburst: The Citrine X-Pendant. On Oct. 15, 2021, the students of Earth to Sky Calculus launched one to the stratosphere onboard an cosmic ray research balloon. At the apex of the flight it floated 120,892 feet above Earth's surface--a record high for our 10-year ballooning program:
You can have it for $169.95. The citrine gemstone is framed in an 18K gold-plated swirl with a matching 16-inch chain. The students are selling these pendants to support their cosmic ray ballooning program. Each one comes with a greeting card showing the necklace in flight and telling the story of its journey to the edge of space.
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 Oct 29, 2021, the network reported 27 fireballs. (23 sporadics, 4 Orionids)
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 October 29, 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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