Solar wind
speed: 370.7 km/sec
density: 4.4 protons/cm3
more data: ACE, DSCOVR
Updated: Today at 0447 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A5
1753 UT Apr26
24-hr: B1
0136 UT Apr26
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2359 UT
Daily Sun: 26 Apr 18
Sunspot AR2706 is rapidly decaying and may soon vanish. Credit: SDO/HMI

Sunspot number: 14
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 26 Apr 2018

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 0 days
2018 total: 67 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%)

Updated 26 Apr 2018


The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 71 sfu
explanation | more data
Updated 26 Apr 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= 2
quiet
explanation | more data
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 4.1 nT
Bz: 2.9 nT north
more data: ACE, DSCOVR
Updated: Today at 0447 UT
Coronal Holes: 26 Apr 18

Solar wind flowing from this northern coronal hole might graze Earth's magnetic field on April 26th or 27th. Credit: SDO/AIA
Noctilucent Clouds Our connection with NASA's AIM spacecraft has been restored! New images from AIM show that the southern season for noctilucent clouds (NLCs) is underway. Come back to this spot every day to see AIM's "daily daisy," which reveals the dance of electric-blue NLCs around the Antarctic Circle..
Switch view: Ross Ice Shelf, Antarctic Peninsula, East Antarctica, Polar
Updated at: 02-07-2018 17:55:05
SPACE WEATHER
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2018 Apr 26 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 Apr 26 2200 UTC
Mid-latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
ACTIVE
30 %
10 %
MINOR
10 %
01 %
SEVERE
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
ACTIVE
15 %
15 %
MINOR
30 %
15 %
SEVERE
35 %
15 %
 
Friday, Apr. 27, 2018
What's up in space
       
 

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INCOMING SOLAR WIND STREAM: A stream of solar wind is approaching Earth and it could graze our planet's magnetic field on April 26th or 27th. The gaseous material is flowing from a northern hole in the sun's atmosphere. The stream won't hit our planet head on, but sometimes grazing impacts produce interesting effects--for instance, making Earth's magnetosphere ring like a bell. Free: Aurora Alerts

NORTH KOREA AND AVIATION RADIATION: For the past 4 years, Spaceweather.com and Earth to Sky Calculus have been flying radiation sensors onboard airplanes to map the distribution of cosmic rays around our planet. Our database currently contains more than 17,000 GPS-tagged radiation measurements spanning 5 continents and 43,000 feet of altitude. Yesterday, we realized we could use this database to investigate a current event--namely, the possibility of a radiation leak from North Korea.


Above: Earth to Sky Calculus X-ray/gamma radiation sensors onboard a plane flying near N. Korea.

North Korea recently surprised observers by announcing a suspension of its underground nuclear testing program. Geologists in China quickly offered an explanation: Mount Mantap, which sits atop of the test site, had collapsed. The mountain crumbled in Sept. 2017 minutes after the North Korean regime exploded a 100 kiloton prototype weapon. According to the South China Morning Post, the China Earthquake Administration believes the collapse may have created a "chimney" that allows the escape of radioactive materials.

Is there any sign of radioactivity in the air space around North Korea? Our database contains four flights near the Korean Peninsula--two in March 2016 (before the collapse), and two more in Feb. 2018  (after the collapse). These are shown in the map, below, where orange circles of 350 miles and 700 miles radius are centered on nuclear test site. During each flight we sampled X-rays and gamma-rays in the energy range 10 keV to 20 MeV at one minute intervals, accumulating more than 600 data points. Low energy X-rays have been used in the past to trace radioactive fallout from atomic tests, so our measurements may have some bearing on the question.


Above: In this map, red dots show where we have collected radiation data in airspace near N. Korea.

And the answer is .... no. We found no significant difference in radiation levels before and after the mountain's collapse. For instance, radiation dose rates in March 2016 at 31,500 feet were 0.9 uGy/hr (18 times the natural rate at sea level). Radiation dose rates in February 2018 at the same altitude were 1.0 uGy/hr (20 times sea level), a slight increase within the uncertainty of our measurements. If radiation is indeed leaking from the collapsed mountain site, we could not find it in our flights over neighboring countries.

FAR-OUT MOTHER'S DAY GIFT: Mother's Day is less than 3 weeks away. To get ready, the students of Earth to Sky Calculus launched an array of cosmic ray sensors to the stratosphere onboard a helium balloon. This Mother's Day pendant went along for the ride:

You can have it for $99.95. The students are selling these pendants as a fund-raiser for their cosmic ray monitoring program--and they make great Mother's Day gifts. All proceeds support atmospheric radiation measurements and hands-on STEM education.

Each pendant comes with a greeting card showing the jewelry in flight and telling the story of its journey to the stratosphere and back again. Mom-satisfaction guaranteed.

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

WHAT LIES INSIDE A RAINBOW: The next time you see a rainbow, look carefully at the colors. There's red on the outside, followed by orange, yellow, green and, finally, on the inside, blue. That's how a rainbow stops--on blue. Except this rainbow, photographed on April 25th by Honor Wheeler of Kent, UK, kept going. Blue, green, blue, green, blue, green:

"Crazy weather in Kent produced these rainbows," says Wheeler. "The colors were gorgeous."

Atmospheric optics expert Les Cowley explains: "The extra bows just inside the primary rainbow are called supernumeraries. They were so named because 17th century theories of the rainbow could not explain them -- they were thought of as extras and not supposed to exist. Now we know supernumeraries are produced by the interference between light waves when raindrops are unusually small."

Realtime Space Weather Photo Gallery


Realtime Aurora 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 Apr. 26, 2018, the network reported 7 fireballs.
(7 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 27, 2018 there were 1907 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Recent & Upcoming Earth-asteroid encounters:
Asteroid
Date(UT)
Miss Distance
Velocity (km/s)
Diameter (m)
2018 HT
2018-Apr-21
7.1 LD
7.6
15
2018 HL1
2018-Apr-21
4.7 LD
14.4
57
2018 GR1
2018-Apr-21
18.3 LD
16.4
52
2018 HN
2018-Apr-21
8 LD
9.8
37
2018 HW1
2018-Apr-21
0.9 LD
5
23
2018 HX1
2018-Apr-22
2.7 LD
25
45
2018 HV
2018-Apr-22
0.4 LD
16
6
2018 GG4
2018-Apr-23
9.7 LD
14.9
20
2018 HY1
2018-Apr-23
9.5 LD
7.6
31
2012 XL16
2018-Apr-23
15.8 LD
6.1
28
2018 GH
2018-Apr-25
14.6 LD
10.7
89
2018 HP
2018-Apr-26
11.6 LD
10.3
20
2018 GH5
2018-Apr-27
12.2 LD
12.7
32
2018 GB2
2018-Apr-27
17.1 LD
14.6
92
2013 US3
2018-Apr-29
10.1 LD
7.7
214
2018 GO4
2018-Apr-29
11.8 LD
8.6
40
2018 GY1
2018-Apr-29
13.2 LD
16.7
139
2018 FV4
2018-Apr-29
17.7 LD
6.5
59
2002 JR100
2018-Apr-29
10.8 LD
7.7
49
2018 HF2
2018-Apr-30
18.6 LD
6.8
20
2018 HB1
2018-May-02
10.1 LD
9.2
39
2018 HR1
2018-May-04
17.3 LD
16.3
48
1999 FN19
2018-May-07
9.7 LD
5.7
118
2016 JQ5
2018-May-08
6.3 LD
10.4
9
388945
2018-May-09
6.5 LD
9
295
2018 GR2
2018-May-11
13.4 LD
9.8
109
1999 LK1
2018-May-15
13.3 LD
10
141
2018 GL1
2018-May-18
14.3 LD
5.2
66
68347
2018-May-29
9.5 LD
13.3
389
2013 LE7
2018-May-31
17.8 LD
1.7
12
2018 EJ4
2018-Jun-10
5.6 LD
6.2
195
2015 DP155
2018-Jun-11
9 LD
4.4
170
2017 YE5
2018-Jun-21
15.6 LD
15.5
513
467309
2018-Jun-23
17.9 LD
14
355
441987
2018-Jun-24
7.3 LD
12.6
178
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

Readers, thank you for your patience while we continue to develop this new section of Spaceweather.com. We've been working to streamline our data reduction, allowing us to post results from balloon flights much more rapidly, and we have developed a new data product, shown here:

This plot displays radiation measurements not only in the stratosphere, but also at aviation altitudes. 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. These measurements are made by our usual cosmic ray payload as it passes through aviation altitudes en route to the stratosphere over California.

What is this all about? 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 13% since 2015:


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.

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 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.

  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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