Solar wind
speed: 438.3 km/sec
density: 10.8 protons/cm3
more data: ACE, DSCOVR
Updated: Today at 0832 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A3
0550 UT Jan21
24-hr: A3
0550 UT Jan21
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 0800 UT
Daily Sun: 21 Jan 18
Fading sunspot AR2696 is tiny and poses no threat for solar flares. Credit: SDO/HMI

Sunspot number: 0
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 20 Jan 2018

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 0 days
2018 total: 7 days (35%)
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 20 Jan 2018


The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 71 sfu
explanation | more data
Updated 20 Jan 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: 11.9 nT
Bz: 8.8 nT north
more data: ACE, DSCOVR
Updated: Today at 0832 UT
Coronal Holes: 20 Jan 18

Solar wind flowing from the indicated coronal hole should reach Earth on Jan. 20-21, sparking G1-class geomagnetic storms. 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: 01-20-2018 16:55:03
SPACE WEATHER
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2018 Jan 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 Jan 20 2200 UTC
Mid-latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
ACTIVE
25 %
20 %
MINOR
10 %
05 %
SEVERE
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
ACTIVE
15 %
20 %
MINOR
30 %
25 %
SEVERE
35 %
25 %
 
Sunday, Jan. 21, 2018
What's up in space
       
 

All-inclusive Northern Lights trips in Tromsø, Norway. Small groups, big experiences! Highly qualified guides ensure unique and unforgettable adventures with a personal touch. Visit Explore the Arctic

 

ENTERING THE SOLAR WIND STREAM: As predicted, Earth is entering a stream of fast-moving solar wind on Jan. 21st. The gaseous material is flowing from a crescent-shaped hole in the sun's atmosphere, and it could spark G1-class geomagnetic storms during the next 24 hours. Arctic sky watchers should remain alert for auroras this weekend. Free: Aurora Alerts.

DOUBLE MAGNETIC SHOCK SPARKS BRIGHT AURORAS: On Friday, Jan. 19th, aurora tour guide Sara Skinner of Abisko, Sweden, kept an expectant eye on the sky because she knew that a solar wind stream was approaching Earth. "I told our guests that a display might begin soon," she says. "What we saw, however, was way beyond what I expected! A crazy vibrant aurora boomed into action, turning everything around us green."


"There are little words to describe what we witnessed for the next two hours," she says. "It was totally awesome!"

The strange thing about this display was not its beauty--stunning auroras are seen routinely in Abisko--but rather its timing. The solar wind stream hadn't yet arrived.

Solar wind speeds wouldn't begin to increase until hours after Skinner witnessed the outburst. What happened?  A magnetometer operated by Rob Stammes at the Polarlightcenter in Norway may provide an answer. "My instruments recorded a double magnetic shockwave," he says. "With each pulse of magnetism, electric currents flowed through the ground outside our observatory and bright auroras appeared overhead."

"These signatures are normally associated with CMEs (big explosions on the sun), not solar wind streams flowing from coronal holes," notes Stammes, who has been monitoring magnetic activity in Arctic Norway for decades.

The pulses Stammes recorded may have been delivered by a co-rotating interaction region (CIR). CIRs are transition zones between slow- and fast-moving regions of solar wind, often traveling just ahead of solar wind streams. They contain shock-like density gradients and enhanced magnetic fields that can sometimes mimic the effect of more powerful CMEs.

Meanwhile, the solar wind has arrived, so more Arctic auroras are likely tonight. Stay tuned. Free: Aurora Alerts.

Realtime Aurora Photo Gallery

VALENTINE'S DAY IS COMING: Nothing says "I Love You" like a Valentine's pendant from the edge of space. On Dec. 31, 2017, the students of Earth to Sky Calculus flew a payload-full of these heart-shaped pendants to the stratosphere, 35.1 km (115,158 feet) above Earth's surface:

You can have one for $119.95. Each glittering pendant comes with a greeting card showing the jewelry in flight and telling the story of its journey to the edge of space. Sales of this pendant support the Earth to Sky Calculus cosmic ray ballooning program and hands-on STEM research.

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

NOCTILUCENT ROCKET FUMES OVER JAPAN: On Jan. 18th, the Japanese space agency JAXA launched a small rocket from the Uchinoura Space Center. It made a big display. Japanese artist and photographer Kagaya captured dramatic images of the rocket's exhaust glowing in the starry pre-dawn sky over the Pacific:


"I watched the launch from Okinawa Island and photographed it using my Sony α7RIII camera," says Kagaya, who has posted a must-see video of the event on Youtube.

Japan's new Epsilon rocket is relatively small, designed to launch scientific satellites at a fraction of the cost of its larger predecessors. On this occasion, the Epsilon propelled an Earth observing satellite to orbit, the ASNARO-2. Powered by solar cells and carrying a large X-band antenna, ASNARO-2 is a synthetic aperture radar capable of imaging the surface of our planet with 1-meter resolution.

Shortly after the launch, noctilucent (night shining) clouds were seen over a broad swath of western Japan as ice crystals forming in the rocket's wake caught the rays of the rising sun. These clouds occur naturally around Earth's poles, but they are very rare at lower latitudes such as Japan's. In polar regions, noctilucent clouds are seeded by specks of meteor smoke, which become frosted by naturally occurring water vapor drifting up toward the edge of space. Over Japan, the ingredients were provided by JAXA: water vapor in the rocket's exhaust mixed with solid-booster aerosols to create the display.

Noctilucent clouds (both manmade and natural) are of keen interest to scientists because of what they reveal about long-range teleconnections and climate change in Earth's atmosphere. Read more here.

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 Jan. 20, 2018, the network reported 18 fireballs.
(18 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 January 21, 2018 there were 1882 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Recent & Upcoming Earth-asteroid encounters:
Asteroid
Date(UT)
Miss Distance
Velocity (km/s)
Diameter (m)
2018 BB
2018-Jan-15
10.9 LD
8.9
36
2018 AA12
2018-Jan-15
16.6 LD
7.6
39
2018 AV2
2018-Jan-15
6.7 LD
0.1
6
2018 BW
2018-Jan-15
0.4 LD
6.9
9
2018 AT11
2018-Jan-15
10.9 LD
6.9
32
2018 BW1
2018-Jan-16
8.7 LD
6.3
14
2018 BR1
2018-Jan-16
0.3 LD
8.9
4
2018 AM2
2018-Jan-16
12.2 LD
13.5
23
2018 AG4
2018-Jan-17
1.4 LD
9.2
23
2018 BA
2018-Jan-17
17.3 LD
12.9
37
2018 BD
2018-Jan-18
0.1 LD
10
3
2018 AF1
2018-Jan-18
12.4 LD
24.6
90
2018 BC
2018-Jan-19
0.7 LD
2.7
5
2018 BX
2018-Jan-19
0.7 LD
5.8
6
306383
2018-Jan-22
14.4 LD
17.4
178
2018 AK12
2018-Jan-23
7 LD
22.3
33
2018 BT1
2018-Jan-23
15.3 LD
16.7
92
2018 AV11
2018-Jan-23
11.1 LD
9.1
35
2018 AJ
2018-Jan-23
4.7 LD
5.6
42
2018 BG1
2018-Jan-24
10.9 LD
7.3
28
2018 BP1
2018-Jan-24
19.2 LD
8.2
48
2018 AL12
2018-Jan-26
8 LD
19.4
36
2018 BU1
2018-Jan-27
3.1 LD
11.3
44
2018 BQ
2018-Jan-27
9.3 LD
3.4
27
2018 AQ2
2018-Feb-02
13.5 LD
17.4
129
2002 CB19
2018-Feb-02
10.5 LD
15.6
36
2018 AH12
2018-Feb-04
5.3 LD
5
15
276033
2018-Feb-04
11 LD
34
646
2018 BL1
2018-Feb-09
16.6 LD
20.4
77
2015 BN509
2018-Feb-09
12.9 LD
17.7
257
1991 VG
2018-Feb-11
18.4 LD
2.1
7
2014 WQ202
2018-Feb-11
15.1 LD
19.8
62
2016 CO246
2018-Feb-22
15.3 LD
5.4
21
2017 DR109
2018-Feb-24
3.7 LD
7.4
11
2016 FU12
2018-Feb-26
13.2 LD
4.5
15
2014 EY24
2018-Feb-27
14.8 LD
8
54
2015 BF511
2018-Feb-28
11.7 LD
5.7
39
2003 EM1
2018-Mar-07
16.6 LD
8
45
2017 VR12
2018-Mar-07
3.8 LD
6.3
284
2015 DK200
2018-Mar-10
6.9 LD
8
27
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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