Solar wind
speed: 587.6 km/sec
density: 9.3 protons/cm3
more data: ACE, DSCOVR
Updated: Today at 0158 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A4
1946 UT Feb18
24-hr: A6
0901 UT Feb18
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2359 UT
Daily Sun: 18 Feb 18
The sun is blank--no sunspots. Credit: SDO/HMI

Sunspot number: 12
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 18 Feb 2018

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 1 days
2018 total: 19 days (39%)
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 18 Feb 2018


The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 69 sfu
explanation | more data
Updated 18 Feb 2018

Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
Credit: NOAA/Ovation
Planetary K-index
Now: Kp= 2 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 4
unsettled
explanation | more data
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 5.5 nT
Bz: -1.7 nT south
more data: ACE, DSCOVR
Updated: Today at 0158 UT
Coronal Holes: 18 Feb 18

Earth is inside a stream of solar wind flowing from the indicated coronal hole. 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 Feb 18 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 Feb 18 2200 UTC
Mid-latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
ACTIVE
30 %
30 %
MINOR
10 %
10 %
SEVERE
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
ACTIVE
20 %
20 %
MINOR
30 %
30 %
SEVERE
30 %
30 %
 
Monday, Feb. 19, 2018
What's up in space
       
 

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THE SUN IS BLANK: The face of the sun is blank again today. The absence of sunspots heralds the approach of Solar Minimum. Sunspot numbers rise and fall with an ~11-year period, slowly oscillating between Solar Max and Solar Min. In 2018, the pendulum is swinging toward a deep minimum expected to reach nadir during the next 2 years. Space weather changes during solar minimum: Cosmic rays increase, Earth's upper atmosphere cools and shrinks, and auroras may change color. Stay tuned for "quiet." Free: Aurora Alerts 

SOLAR WIND SPARKS OUTBURSTS OF PINK AURORA: A stream of high speed solar wind is buffeting Earth's magnetic field this weekend, causing intermittent auroras around the Arctic circle. Alan Dyer photographed this outbreak of lights over Churchill, Manitoba:

"It was an amazing show last night (Feb 16/17) as skies cleared and the aurora began to appear, all thanks to an impact of particles from a [hole in the sun's atmosphere]," says Dyer. "For about 90 minutes we had well-defined green curtains, often with rapid motion, and at times for brief seconds, bright outbursts with pinks along the bottom edge."

The pink fringes were likely a sign of nitrogran.Most auroras are green--a verdant glow caused by energetic particles from space hitting oxygen atoms 100 km to 300 km above Earth's surface. Pink appears when the energetic particles descend lower than usual, striking nitrogen molecules at the 100 km level and below.

NOAA forecasters say there is a 30% chance of geomagnetic storms on Feb. 18th as the solar wind continues to blow faster than 500 km/s (1.1 million mph). Stay tuned for more Arctic lights. Free: Aurora Alerts   

Realtime Aurora Photo Gallery 

STARMAN AT 3.2 MILLION KM: Astronomers around the world are racing to set an unlikely record: Who can take the most distant photo of a cherry red Tesla Roadster? At the moment, the record stands at 3.2 million km. Last night, observers at the McCarthy Observatory in Connecticut photographed it streaking almost invisibly among the stars of the constellation Hydra:

"We used a 0.4 meter telescope," says one of the observers, Monty Robson. "The car was fantastically dim, similar to a 20th magnitude star."

Launched on Feb. 6, 2018, by a Falcon Heavy Rocket at Cape Canaveral, Elon Musk's Roadster is traveling around the sun on an elliptical orbit that will take it beyond the orbit of Mars. Every day it is getting farther from Earth. For comparison, 3.2 million km is about 8 times farther away than the Moon.

Other amateur astronomers around the world have also been photographing the distant electric car, piloted by a space-suited mannequin named "Starman." The current record will almost certain fall again and again in the nights ahead, so stay tuned.

Realtime Space Weather Photo Gallery

VALENTINE'S DAY WAS ... LAST WEDNESDAY: Oops. Did you forget to buy a Valentine's gift? Your sweetheart might forgive you if she receives this:

Nothing says "I love you" like a space pendant, and you can have one for $199.95.

The students of Earth to Sky Calculus flew a payload-full of these heart-shaped Venus pendants to the stratosphere onboard a high-altitude helium balloon. The one pictured above is floating 110,550 ft above the Sierra of Centrl California.

With a sterling silver backface that says "I Love You to the Moon and Back," these blue jewels make great Valentine's, Mother's Day, and birthday 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. 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


  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. 18, 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 February 19, 2018 there were 1882 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Recent & Upcoming Earth-asteroid encounters:
Asteroid
Date(UT)
Miss Distance
Velocity (km/s)
Diameter (m)
2018 CL2
2018-Feb-13
16.3 LD
13.9
25
2018 CW2
2018-Feb-13
18.6 LD
9.4
28
2018 CA2
2018-Feb-13
10.5 LD
7.4
22
2018 CR3
2018-Feb-13
6.8 LD
20.5
27
2018 CT3
2018-Feb-14
14.6 LD
14.8
99
2018 CF3
2018-Feb-14
11.1 LD
8.7
17
2018 CS2
2018-Feb-14
14.8 LD
5.7
28
2018 CY2
2018-Feb-14
18.7 LD
15
124
2018 CU2
2018-Feb-15
2.2 LD
8.9
9
2018 CB1
2018-Feb-15
9.7 LD
11.4
28
2018 CC1
2018-Feb-15
14.1 LD
15.4
70
2018 CD3
2018-Feb-15
0.9 LD
7.6
7
2018 CX2
2018-Feb-16
17.3 LD
13.9
28
2018 CP2
2018-Feb-19
6.1 LD
11.3
51
2018 CJ
2018-Feb-20
9.3 LD
15.3
67
2018 CU13
2018-Feb-21
11.9 LD
10.8
21
2016 CO246
2018-Feb-22
15.3 LD
5.4
21
2017 DR109
2018-Feb-24
3.7 LD
7.4
11
2018 CE14
2018-Feb-24
5.2 LD
10.2
26
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
287
2018 BK7
2018-Mar-09
10.2 LD
8.7
69
2015 DK200
2018-Mar-10
6.9 LD
8
27
2016 SR2
2018-Mar-28
18.7 LD
7.3
20
2010 GD35
2018-Mar-31
15.5 LD
11.6
45
2004 FG29
2018-Apr-02
4 LD
14.9
22
363599
2018-Apr-12
19.3 LD
24.5
224
2014 UR
2018-Apr-14
9.3 LD
4.4
17
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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