Solar wind
speed: 438.5 km/sec
density: 11.8 protons/cm3
more data: ACE, DSCOVR
Updated: Today at 0719 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: B3
0414 UT May23
24-hr: B3
0414 UT May23
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 0700 UT
Daily Sun: 22 May 18
New sunspot AR2710 has a stable magnetic field that poses little threat for strong flares. Credit: SDO/HMI

Sunspot number: 12
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 22 May 2018

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 0 days
2018 total: 80 days (56%)
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 22 May 2018


The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 70 sfu
explanation | more data
Updated 22 May 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= 2
quiet
explanation | more data
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 8.3 nT
Bz: 6.1 nT north
more data: ACE, DSCOVR
Updated: Today at 0718 UT
Coronal Holes: 22 May 18

Solar wind flowing from the indicated coronal hole could brush against Earth's magnetic field on May 23rd. 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 May 22 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 May 22 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
15 %
15 %
MINOR
30 %
30 %
SEVERE
40 %
40 %
 
Wednesday, May. 23, 2018
What's up in space
       
 

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CHANCE OF MINOR STORMS: NOAA forecasters say there is a 40% chance of minor geomagnetic storms on May 23rd when a stream of solar wind grazes Earth's magnetic field. The gaseous material is flowing from a northern hole in the sun's atmosphere. High-latitude sky watchers should be alert for auroras. Indeed, in Antarctica the light show has already begun. Free: Aurora Alerts.

SOMETHING FLARE-Y THIS WAY COMES: Just behind the sun's eastern limb, a new sunspot has formed and it is crackling with solar flares. The sun's rotation is about to turn the active region toward Earth. In this image from NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory, we can already see the sunspot's plasma-filled magnetic canopy peeking over the edge:

On May 22nd, the approaching sunspot produced a B8-class solar flare--almost C-class. Such relatively weak flares would never be mentioned during Solar Max, but any flare is remarkable during the current period of deepening Solar Minimum. In the next day or so, the underlying sunspot will be revealed, and we shall see if it has potential for even stronger explosions. Free: Solar Flare Alerts.

RARE ANTI-SOLAR ARCS: Yesterday, May 21st, Pål Tengesdal boarded a plane at the Gardermoen Oslo Airport in Norway and took off. Minutes later he saw something strange out the window. "There was a bright luminous «X» in the clouds," he says. "I photographed it using my iPhone 7."

"The phenomenon was visible for less than 2 minutes," says Tengesdal. "As we moved out of the clouds it faded away."

Tengesdal witnessed a rare type of ice halo called "anti-solar region arcs." To see them, you have to stare directly away from the sun, looking down into icy clouds where subhorizon reflections from the faces of ice crystals create these strange arcs.

Tengesdal's seat in the plane was, for 2 brief minutes, the perfect viewing location. "I was seated on the side of the plane diametrically opposite the sun," he explains. "This put the plane's shadow in the diamond-shaped center of the «X» (e.g., the anti-solar point). Clouds floated in a thin layer below the plane."

Anti-solar region arcs are bright but elusive, requiring a passenger to be seated in just the right spot, looking in just the right direction, at precisely the right moment as the plane ascends above icy clouds. Rare, indeed.

Realtime Space Weather Photo Gallery

BASEBALLS IN THE STRATOSPHERE: Father's day is less than a month away. To get ready, the students of Earth to Sky Calculus have been launching baseballs to the edge of space. These unique balls traveled to the stratosphere onboard cosmic ray balloons and returned to Earth ready to be given as far-out gifts to Dad:

You can have one for $129.95. So far we have flown baseballs for the Dodgers, Red Sox, Giants, Angels, and Padres. If your home team is not on that list, let us know and we will fly it for you. Dad-satisfaction guaranteed.

Each baseball comes with a greeting card showing the ball in flight and telling the story of its journey to the stratosphere. All sales support atmospheric cosmic ray monitoring and hands-on STEM education.

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


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 May. 22, 2018, the network reported 8 fireballs.
(8 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 May 23, 2018 there were 1907 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Recent & Upcoming Earth-asteroid encounters:
Asteroid
Date(UT)
Miss Distance
Velocity (km/s)
Diameter (m)
2018 JC
2018-May-17
17.7 LD
9.3
75
2018 GL1
2018-May-18
14.3 LD
5.2
69
2018 KN
2018-May-19
11 LD
7.5
27
2018 JL2
2018-May-19
10.9 LD
13.5
40
2018 KQ
2018-May-19
8.7 LD
7.7
11
2018 JG1
2018-May-20
5.3 LD
8.3
45
2018 KK
2018-May-21
12.1 LD
9.1
32
2018 KF1
2018-May-21
2.2 LD
8.6
26
2018 KS
2018-May-22
2.1 LD
7.7
9
2018 JK
2018-May-22
16.3 LD
12.5
81
2018 KW1
2018-May-23
0.4 LD
7.3
4
2018 JG2
2018-May-25
18.4 LD
6.9
61
2018 JK3
2018-May-27
19.7 LD
21.8
170
2018 KR
2018-May-28
15.7 LD
4
18
68347
2018-May-29
9.5 LD
13.3
389
2013 LE7
2018-May-31
17.8 LD
1.7
12
2018 KE1
2018-Jun-01
10.8 LD
16.2
32
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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