Solar wind
speed: 462.0 km/sec
density: 5.8 protons/cm3
more data: ACE, DSCOVR
Updated: Today at 1112 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A0
0751 UT Feb22
24-hr: A0
0039 UT Feb22
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 1000 UT
Daily Sun: 22 Feb 19
The sun is blank--no sunspots. Credit: SDO/HMI

Sunspot number: 0
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 22 Feb 2019

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 22 days
2019 total: 36 days (68%)
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 Feb 2019


Thermosphere Climate Index
today: 3.88
x1010 W Cold
Max: 49.4
x1010 W Hot (10/1957)
Min: 2.05
x1010 W Cold (02/2009)
explanation | more data
Updated 21 Feb 2019

The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 71 sfu
explanation | more data
Updated 22 Feb 2019

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: 3.7 nT
Bz: 0.3 nT north
more data: ACE, DSCOVR
Updated: Today at 1111 UT
Coronal Holes: 22 Feb 19

Solar wind flowing from this large coronal hole should reach Earth on Feb. 26th or 27th. Credit: SDO/AIA
Noctilucent Clouds The southern season for noctilucent clouds (NLCs) has begun! NASA's AIM spacecraft is detecting electric blue clouds at the edge of space over Antarctica.
Switch view: Europe, USA, Asia, Polar
Updated at: 02-21-2019 15:55:02
SPACE WEATHER
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2019 Feb 21 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: 2019 Feb 21 2200 UTC
Mid-latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
ACTIVE
30 %
15 %
MINOR
10 %
01 %
SEVERE
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
ACTIVE
15 %
20 %
MINOR
30 %
25 %
SEVERE
30 %
10 %
 
Friday, Feb. 22, 2019
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!

 

GEOMAGNETIC UNREST TODAY: A stream of solar wind is buffeting Earth's magnetic field, and this is causing geomagnetic unrest around the poles. First contact with the gaseous material on Feb. 21st produced a "crazy outburst" of auroras over Alaska. More high-latitude auroras are possible on Feb. 22nd as solar wind speeds approach 500 km/s. Aurora Alerts: SMS text, email.

ATMOSPHERIC COSMIC RAYS ARE INCREASING: Cosmic rays in the stratosphere are intensifying for the 4th year in a row. This finding comes from a campaign of almost weekly high-altitude balloon launches conducted by the students of Earth to Sky Calculus. Since March 2015, there has been a ~13% increase in X-rays and gamma-rays over central California, where the students have launched hundreds of balloons.

The grey points in the graph are Earth to Sky balloon data. Overlaid on that time series is a record of neutron monitor data from the Sodankyla Geophysical Observatory in Oulu, Finland. The correlation between the two data sets is impressive, especially considering their wide geographic separation and differing methodologies. Neutron monitors have long been considered a "gold standard" for monitoring cosmic rays on Earth. This shows that our student-built balloons are gathering data of similar quality.

Why are cosmic rays increasing? The short answer is "Solar Minimum." Right now, the 11-year solar cycle is plunging into one of the deepest minima of the Space Age. The sun's weakening magnetic field and flagging solar wind are not protecting us as usual from deep-space radiation. Earth to Sky balloon launches in multiple countries and US states show that this is a widespread phenomenon.

Cosmic rays are of interest to anyone who flies on airplanes. The International Commission on Radiological Protection has classified pilots as occupational radiation workers because of cosmic ray doses they receive while flying. A recent study by researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health shows that flight attendants face an elevated risk of cancer compared to members of the general population. They listed cosmic rays as one of several risk factors. There are also controversial studies that suggest cosmic rays promote the formation of clouds in the atmosphere; if so, increasing cosmic rays could affect weather and climate.

A sharable verson of this story may be found here.

LOOKING FOR A FAR-OUT GIFT? Every time the students of Earth to Sky Calculus launch cosmic ray sensors to the stratosphere, they send a little something extra along for the ride. For example, this purple heart:

You can have it for $99.95. The students are selling these pendants as a fund-raiser for their cosmic ray monitoring program. They make great anniversary, birthday and Mother's Day gifts. 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.

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

PHYSICS OF AN EXPLODING COSMIC RAY BALLOON: On Nov. 14, 2018, the students of Earth to Sky Calculus launched a balloon to measure increasing levels of cosmic rays in the atmosphere. At the apex of the flight, the balloon exploded and the radiation sensors parachuted back to Earth. A video camera on top of the payload recorded the pop:

These images illustrate recent findings about the physics of exploding balloons. In a Physical Review Letter entitled "Popping Balloons: A Case Study of Dynamical Fragmentation," researchers from the Ecole Normale Supérieure in Paris report a series of laboratory experiments in which one balloon after another was popped and analyzed.

Basically, there are two ways a balloon can pop: along a single tear (the "opening regime") or along many tears (the "fragmentation regime"). This video shows the two regimes in action. Which way the balloon decided to pop depends on the stress in the rubber membrane. When the stress is low, it can be relieved with a single tear, but when the stress is high, many tears are required to do the job.

Space weather balloons explode in the fragmentation regime, and the new research explains why. When space weather balloons are launched, they measure no more than 6 to 8 feet in diameter. By the time they reach the stratosphere, they have stretched into a sphere as wide as a house. So much stress requires many tears to release.

More information about this research is available from the American Physical Society.

 


Realtime Aurora Photo Gallery


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 Feb. 21, 2019, the network reported 13 fireballs.
(13 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 February 22, 2019 there were 1967 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Recent & Upcoming Earth-asteroid encounters:
Asteroid
Date(UT)
Miss Distance
Velocity (km/s)
Diameter (m)
2019 CG5
2019-Feb-16
6 LD
8.9
15
2013 MD8
2019-Feb-19
15.1 LD
13.6
51
2019 CY1
2019-Feb-20
3.3 LD
13.3
26
455176
2019-Feb-20
19.2 LD
26.5
269
2016 CO246
2019-Feb-22
15.8 LD
5.5
23
2019 CK5
2019-Feb-23
13.4 LD
8.9
20
2019 BF1
2019-Feb-24
11.2 LD
9.1
118
2019 CK1
2019-Feb-24
16.5 LD
10.2
32
2019 CJ
2019-Feb-25
7.4 LD
4.8
26
2019 CF4
2019-Feb-26
15.6 LD
3.7
14
2018 DE1
2019-Feb-27
19.8 LD
6.5
28
2016 FU12
2019-Feb-27
15.4 LD
5.2
15
2019 CT4
2019-Mar-02
6 LD
12
55
2019 CX4
2019-Mar-04
18.5 LD
7
29
2019 CW
2019-Mar-04
19.2 LD
11.6
63
2015 EG
2019-Mar-04
1.2 LD
9.6
26
2012 DF31
2019-Mar-09
9.1 LD
15.3
47
2019 CM4
2019-Mar-11
13.8 LD
12.1
94
2013 EG68
2019-Mar-13
19.3 LD
17
37
2012 VZ19
2019-Mar-13
7.7 LD
8
27
2019 CL2
2019-Mar-18
10.2 LD
7.5
68
2019 CD5
2019-Mar-20
10.2 LD
17
128
2016 GE1
2019-Apr-04
3.9 LD
10.1
17
2014 UR
2019-Apr-09
13 LD
4.6
17
2016 GW221
2019-Apr-09
10.1 LD
5.3
39
2012 XO134
2019-Apr-18
14.8 LD
11
56
522684
2019-Apr-19
19 LD
11.5
214
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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