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SpaceWeather.com -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
 
Solar wind
speed: 412.2 km/sec
density: 3.5 protons/cm3
more data: ACE, DSCOVR
Updated: Today at 2350 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A5
1735 UT Dec02
24-hr: A6
1127 UT Dec02
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2300 UT
Daily Sun: 02 Dec 17
The sun is blank--no sunspots. Credit: SDO/HMI

Sunspot number: 0
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 02 Dec 2017

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 1 day
2017 total: 88 days (26%)
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 02 Dec 2017


The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 70 sfu
explanation | more data
Updated 02 Dec 2017

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: 3.9 nT
Bz: -0.8 nT south
more data: ACE, DSCOVR
Updated: Today at 2350 UT
Coronal Holes: 02 Dec 17

Solar wind flowing from the indicated coronal hole could reach Earth on Dec. 4th and 5th. Credit: SDO/AIA
Noctilucent Clouds Latest images from NASA's AIM spacecraft show that the 2017 northern summer season for noctilucent clouds has finished.
Switch view: Europe, USA, Asia, Polar
Updated at: 09-03-2017 01:55:03
SPACE WEATHER
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2017 Dec 02 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: 2017 Dec 02 2200 UTC
Mid-latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
ACTIVE
10 %
30 %
MINOR
01 %
35 %
SEVERE
01 %
20 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
ACTIVE
15 %
05 %
MINOR
20 %
20 %
SEVERE
15 %
75 %
 
Saturday, Dec. 2, 2017
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

 

INCREASING CHANCE OF MAGNETIC STORMS: NOAA forecasters have upgraded their estimate of next week's geomagnetic storm from G1-class (minor) to G2-class (moderately strong). These thresholds may be exceeded on Dec. 4th and 5th when a stream of solar wind reaches Earth, blowing past our planet faster than 600 km/s (1.3 million mph). G2-class geomagnetic storms can confuse wildlife that use magnetic cues for navigation and have been known to spark Northern Lights as far south as a line from New York to Wisconsin to Washington state. Free: Aurora Alerts.

WATCH OUT FOR THE SUPERMOON: The biggest and brightest full Moon of 2017 is coming this weekend, on Sunday night, Dec. 3rd. It's a perigee "supermoon," almost 8% wider and 16% brighter than an average full Moon. This morning, Dec. 2nd, Masa Nakamura photographed the waxing orb over Otawara,Tochigi, Japan:

Full moons vary in size because the Moon's orbit is not a circle, it's an ellipse: diagram. One side of the Moon's orbit, called "perigee," is 50,000 km closer to Earth than the other side, "apogee." This Sunday's Moon becomes full only 16 hours away from perigee, closer than any other full Moon of 2017.

Some people say you can't tell the difference between a supermoon and a regular Moon. A 16% difference in brightness can easily be masked by clouds or the glare of urban lights. Also, there are no rulers floating in the sky to measure lunar diameters. Hanging high overhead with no reference points to provide a sense of scale, one full Moon looks much like any other. There is no doubt, however, that supermoons are genuinely bigger than their ordinary cousins.

To get the most out of Sunday's apparition, try to catch the Moon just as it is rising or setting. This will activate the Moon Illusion and make the perigee Moon of Dec. 3rd look super, indeed.

Realtime Space Weather Photo Gallery

RARE WINTER SPRITES: Red sprites tend to be a summertime phenomenon. They shoot up from the tops of summer thunderstorms, reaching toward the edge of space, while their cousins, normal lightning bolts, lance down to the ground below.  So it came as a surprise, on the night of Dec. 2nd, when Martin Popek  photographed a phalanx of winter sprites leaping above the snowy landscape of the Czech republic:

"This is a very rare thing," says Popek. "I've been monitoring sprites from my private observatory since 2011. This is only the second storm with red sprites I have ever seen in December."

Sprites are a true space weather phenomenon. Some researchers believe they are linked to cosmic rays: subatomic particles from deep space striking the top of Earth's atmosphere produce secondary electrons that, in turn, provide the spark that triggers sprites. If this is true, then sprites could multiply in the years ahead as cosmic rays intensify due to the decline of the solar cycle. Indeed, increasing levels of cosmic rays might explain by the strange red forms are spilling over into the "off-season."

Although sprites have been seen for at least a century, most scientists did not believe they existed until after 1989 when sprites were photographed by cameras onboard the space shuttle. Now "sprite chasers" routinely photograph sprites from their own homes. "I used up a Watec 910HX security camera with UFOCapture software to catch my sprites," says Popek. Give it a try!

diagram: How to Look for Sprites

Realtime Sprite Photo Gallery

FAR OUT CHRISTMAS GIFT: Nothing says "Merry Christmas" like jewelry from space. The students of Earth to Sky Calculus have flown a payload-full of heart-shaped Venus pendants to the stratosphere onboard a high-altitude helium balloon. This video shows one floating 111,550 feet above the Sierras of central California:

These blue jewels make great Christmas gifts--and you have have one for $149.95. Each glittering pendant comes with a greeting card showing the jewelry in flight and telling the story of its journey to the stratosphere and back again.  All proceeds support STEM education and high altitude cosmic ray research.

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 Dec. 2, 2017, the network reported 10 fireballs.
(9 sporadics, 1 Geminid)

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 December 2, 2017 there were 1869 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Recent & Upcoming Earth-asteroid encounters:
Asteroid
Date(UT)
Miss Distance
Velocity (km/s)
Diameter (m)
2017 WH13
2017-Nov-26
1.7 LD
11.4
16
2017 WQ13
2017-Nov-26
12.7 LD
9.5
20
2017 WO16
2017-Nov-26
10.6 LD
7.6
35
2017 WC14
2017-Nov-27
7.3 LD
11.1
26
2017 WK15
2017-Nov-27
8.8 LD
5.6
16
2017 WF15
2017-Nov-27
20.1 LD
9.6
18
2017 WK1
2017-Nov-28
7.8 LD
8
14
2017 WD28
2017-Nov-28
4.5 LD
13.3
26
2017 WF16
2017-Nov-29
3.7 LD
4.2
6
2017 WN15
2017-Nov-29
7.4 LD
19.4
38
2017 WH28
2017-Nov-30
19.7 LD
14.7
45
2017 WH2
2017-Nov-30
6.4 LD
16.8
48
2008 WM61
2017-Dec-02
3.7 LD
4.7
16
2017 WH16
2017-Dec-03
17.4 LD
15.2
26
2017 WZ27
2017-Dec-03
13.6 LD
4.2
11
2017 WS13
2017-Dec-05
9.5 LD
11.3
42
2017 WF28
2017-Dec-06
17.6 LD
7.6
21
2017 WV12
2017-Dec-09
3.5 LD
10.6
25
2017 WE13
2017-Dec-12
16.4 LD
5.4
26
2017 VS14
2017-Dec-12
15.9 LD
2.8
15
2017 WJ28
2017-Dec-13
12.9 LD
6.1
21
2015 XX169
2017-Dec-14
9.7 LD
6.3
11
2006 XY
2017-Dec-14
3.4 LD
4.9
56
2017 VT14
2017-Dec-17
3.8 LD
10.4
105
2011 YD29
2017-Dec-19
17.6 LD
7.7
20
2017 WX12
2017-Dec-21
10.1 LD
11.5
124
2017 TS3
2017-Dec-22
18.1 LD
10.2
136
418849
2017-Dec-22
15.3 LD
17.4
257
2015 YQ1
2017-Dec-22
17.3 LD
11.1
9
2017 WZ14
2017-Dec-24
7.6 LD
4.9
32
2017 QL33
2017-Dec-30
13.3 LD
8.2
191
2015 RT1
2018-Jan-02
19.7 LD
9
30
2004 FH
2018-Jan-10
20 LD
8.5
26
306383
2018-Jan-22
14.4 LD
17.4
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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