Solar wind
speed: 408.8 km/sec
density: 2.9 protons/cm3
more data: ACE, DSCOVR
Updated: Today at 1333 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A2
0934 UT Nov21
24-hr: A3
0200 UT Nov21
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 1300 UT
Daily Sun: 21 Nov 18
The sun is blank--no sunspots. Credit: SDO/HMI

Sunspot number: 0
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 21 Nov 2018

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 1 day
2018 total: 191 days (59%)
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 21 Nov 2018


Thermosphere Climate Index
today: 4.04
x1010 W Cold
Max: 49.4
x1010 W Hot (10/1957)
Min: 2.05
x1010 W Cold (02/2009)
explanation | more data
Updated 20 Nov 2018

The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 71 sfu
explanation | more data
Updated 21 Nov 2018

Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
Credit: NOAA/Ovation
Planetary K-index
Now: Kp= 1 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 3
quiet
explanation | more data
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 5.3 nT
Bz: 0.7 nT north
more data: ACE, DSCOVR
Updated: Today at 1331 UT
Coronal Holes: 21 Nov 18

Solar wind flowing from this minor coronal hole could hit Earth's magnetic field on Nov. 26th, causing polar geomagnetic unrest. Credit: SDO/AIA
Noctilucent Clouds The season for noctilucent clouds (NLCs) in the northern hemisphere has come to an end. Images from NASA's AIM spacecraft show no NLCs around the north pole.
Switch view: Europe, USA, Asia, Polar
Updated at: 09-03-2018 14:55:02
SPACE WEATHER
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2018 Nov 20 2200 UTC
FLARE
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
CLASS M
01 %
01 %
CLASS X
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: 2018 Nov 20 2200 UTC
Mid-latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
ACTIVE
15 %
10 %
MINOR
05 %
01 %
SEVERE
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
ACTIVE
15 %
15 %
MINOR
25 %
20 %
SEVERE
25 %
20 %
 
Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2018
What's up in space
       
 

Lights Over Lapland has a brand-new website full of exciting adventures in Abisko National Park, Sweden! Take a look at our aurora activities and book your once-in-a-lifetime trip with us today!

 

SOLAR MINIMUM CONDITIONS ARE IN EFFECT: The sun is blank again today--the 191st day of 2018 that the sun has been without spots. To find a similar stretch of blank suns, you have to go back to 2009 when the sun was experiencing the deepest solar minimum in a century. Solar minimum has returned, bringing extra cosmic rays, long-lasting holes in the sun's atmosphere, and strangely pink auroras. Free: Aurora Alerts

A RAINBOW AT NIGHT: We've all seen rainbows--bands of color arcing across the sky after summer rainstorms. But how many of us have seen a rainbow at night? "I have," says Chad Blakley of Lights Over Lapland. "We saw one just last night in Abisko, Sweden."

Blakley has been running an aurora tour guide service in Abisko National Park for 10 years, and he has seen almost everything the Arctic sky has to offer.

"But last night was truly amazing," he says. "The evening started in the usual way – the Sun went down and Northern Lights began to dance across the sky in reaction to a stream of solar wind. We were all enjoying the scene when suddenly a bit of rain started to fall in the distance. Normally this would be a disappointment, but not this time. Moisture in the air combined perfectly with bright Moonlight to form a lunar rainbow that shared the sky with an impressive aurora display."

Lunar rainbows--a.k.a. "moonbows"--form in the same way as regular rainbows. Beams of light bounce in and out of falling raindrops, splitting the light into fundamental colors. The only difference is, at night the Moon provides illumination instead of the sun. Says Blakley, "as you might imagine, this was a magical thing to watch!"

Realtime Aurora Photo Gallery

A COMET WITH TWO TAILS: Newly-discovered Comet Machholz-Fujikawa-Iwamoto (C/2018 V1) has sprouted a tail. Actually, two tails.  Michael Jaeger of Jauerling, Austria, photographed them both on Nov. 18th as the comet was gliding through the star fields of Virgo:

Why does Comet Machholz-Fujikawa-Iwamoto have two tails? Almost all comets do. The sun-warmed nucleus of a comet spews a mixture of dust and gas into space. Quickly, the mixture separates into two distinct tails: The gaseous "ion tail" is pushed straight away from the sun by solar wind. The weightier dust tail resists solar wind pressure and aligns itself more or less with the comet's orbit. In Jaeger's short video, the long ion tail points up and left; the stubby dust tail points up and right.

Comet Machholz-Fujikawa-Iwamoto appears to be a first-time visitor to the inner solar system. It is plunging toward the sun on nearly-parabolic orbit that will take it just inside the orbit of Mercury. Closest approach to the sun (0.38 AU) is on Dec. 3-4; closest approach to Earth (0.67 AU) is Nov. 27th. Amateur astronomers can find it--and its two tails--shining like a star of 8th magnitude in the constellation Virgo in the pre-dawn sky.

Resources: 3D Orbit; Ephemeris; Orbital Elements;

Realtime Comet Photo Gallery

A GIFT FROM THE EDGE OF SPACE: Once a week, the students of Earth to Sky Calculus launch a cosmic ray balloon to the stratosphere--a regular part of their atmospheric radiation monitoring program. Last week, a spiral galaxy went along for the ride, flying 113,517 feet above the Sierra Nevada mountains of central California:

You can have it for $149.95. The students are selling Galaxy Globes to pay their helium bill. Each one comes with a greeting card showing the item in flight and telling the story of its journey to the edge of space. All sales support the Earth to Sky Calculus cosmic ray ballooning program and hands-on STEM research.

Far Out Gifts: Earth to Sky Store
All sales support hands-on STEM education


Realtime Space Weather 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 Spaceweather.com.

On Nov. 20, 2018, the network reported 85 fireballs.
(48 sporadics, 28 Leonids, 8 Northern Taurids, 1 omicron Eridanid)

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 21, 2018 there were 1936 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Recent & Upcoming Earth-asteroid encounters:
Asteroid
Date(UT)
Miss Distance
Velocity (km/s)
Diameter (m)
2007 UL12
2018-Nov-15
16.4 LD
25.8
235
2018 VV7
2018-Nov-15
12.2 LD
8.3
21
2018 VT8
2018-Nov-16
10.3 LD
6.2
58
2018 WH
2018-Nov-16
0.5 LD
7.8
4
2018 WV
2018-Nov-16
3 LD
8.2
28
2018 WG
2018-Nov-16
0.1 LD
11.8
5
2018 VS8
2018-Nov-17
2 LD
9.2
13
2018 VT4
2018-Nov-18
11.1 LD
4.4
18
2018 WU
2018-Nov-18
8.3 LD
10.7
43
2018 VH10
2018-Nov-18
4.4 LD
14
35
2018 WF
2018-Nov-18
6.8 LD
10.6
18
2018 WE
2018-Nov-18
0.6 LD
12.8
8
2018 WQ
2018-Nov-19
10.9 LD
7.5
22
2018 WC
2018-Nov-19
15.2 LD
19.9
87
2018 WJ
2018-Nov-19
0.3 LD
18.7
11
2018 VQ6
2018-Nov-20
11.4 LD
7.9
21
2018 VP7
2018-Nov-20
7.7 LD
5.7
17
2018 WD
2018-Nov-24
4.5 LD
13.6
52
2009 WB105
2018-Nov-25
15.2 LD
18.9
71
2018 VT7
2018-Nov-25
8.2 LD
2.3
10
2008 WD14
2018-Nov-27
7.4 LD
9.3
93
2001 WO15
2018-Nov-28
13.6 LD
11.7
107
2018 VE4
2018-Nov-30
15 LD
4.8
30
2018 WN
2018-Dec-01
14.9 LD
4.4
17
2018 TG6
2018-Dec-02
3.9 LD
1.4
13
2013 VX4
2018-Dec-09
4.1 LD
6.6
65
2001 XG1
2018-Dec-10
7.9 LD
14.2
78
2018 VX6
2018-Dec-10
16.5 LD
11.2
69
2015 XX169
2018-Dec-13
17 LD
5.8
12
2018 VO9
2018-Dec-15
2.6 LD
2.9
16
2017 XQ60
2018-Dec-21
11.3 LD
15.6
47
163899
2018-Dec-22
7.4 LD
6.2
1232
418849
2018-Dec-23
16.6 LD
17.6
269
2014 AD16
2019-Jan-04
12.9 LD
9.4
12
2016 AZ8
2019-Jan-07
11.6 LD
9.1
224
2013 YM2
2019-Jan-09
7.3 LD
4.3
20
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

SOMETHING NEW! We have developed a new predictive model of aviation radiation. It's called E-RAD--short for Empirical RADiation model. We are constantly flying radiation sensors onboard airplanes over the US and and around the world, so far collecting more than 22,000 gps-tagged radiation measurements. Using this unique dataset, we can predict the dosage on any flight over the USA with an error no worse than 15%.

E-RAD lets us do something new: Every day we monitor approximately 1400 flights criss-crossing the 10 busiest routes in the continental USA. Typically, this includes more than 80,000 passengers per day. E-RAD calculates the radiation exposure for every single flight.

The Hot Flights Table is a daily summary of these calculations. It shows the 5 charter flights with the highest dose rates; the 5 commercial flights with the highest dose rates; 5 commercial flights with near-average dose rates; and the 5 commercial flights with the lowest dose rates. Passengers typically experience dose rates that are 20 to 70 times higher than natural radiation at sea level.

To measure radiation on airplanes, we use the same sensors we fly to the stratosphere onboard Earth to Sky Calculus cosmic ray balloons: neutron bubble chambers and X-ray/gamma-ray Geiger tubes sensitive to energies between 10 keV and 20 MeV. These energies span the range of medical X-ray machines and airport security scanners.

Column definitions: (1) The flight number; (2) The maximum dose rate during the flight, expressed in units of natural radiation at sea level; (3) The maximum altitude of the plane in feet above sea level; (4) Departure city; (5) Arrival city; (6) Duration of the flight.

SPACE WEATHER BALLOON DATA: 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. Furthermore, there are studies ( #1, #2, #3, #4) linking cosmic rays with cardiac arrhythmias and sudden cardiac death in the general population. Our latest measurements show that cosmic rays are intensifying, with an increase of more than 18% since 2015:

The data points in the graph above correspond to the peak of the Reneger-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 Reneger and Georg Pfotzer discovered the maximum using balloons in the 1930s and it is what we are measuring today.

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 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.

Why are cosmic rays intensifying? The main reason is the sun. Solar storm clouds such as coronal mass ejections (CMEs) sweep aside cosmic rays when they pass by Earth. During Solar Maximum, CMEs are abundant and cosmic rays are held at bay. Now, however, the solar cycle is swinging toward Solar Minimum, allowing cosmic rays to return. Another reason could be the weakening of Earth's magnetic field, which helps protect us from deep-space radiation.

  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.
STEREO
  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
NOAA 27-Day Space Weather Forecasts
  fun to read, but should be taken with a grain of salt! Forecasts looking ahead more than a few days are often wrong.
Aurora 30 min forecast
  from the NOAA Space Environment Center
Heliophysics
  the underlying science of space weather
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