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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Solar wind
speed: 501.1 km/sec
density: 1.7 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2348 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: B7
2009 UT Nov05
24-hr: B7
2009 UT Nov05
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2300 UT
Daily Sun: 05 Nov 15
Sunspot AR2443 has a 'beta-delta' magnetic field that harbors energy for M-class solar flares. Credit: SDO/HMI

Sunspot number: 93
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 05 Nov 2015

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 0 days
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 05 Nov 2015

The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 114 sfu
explanation | more data
Updated 05 Nov 2015

Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
Credit: NOAA/Ovation
Planetary K-index
Now: Kp= 3 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 4
explanation | more data
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 6.0 nT
Bz: 0.9 nT south
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2347 UT
Coronal Holes: 05 Nov 15

Earth is exiting a stream of fast-moving solar wind flowing from the indicated coronal hole. Credit: SDO/AIA.
Noctilucent Clouds The northern season for NLCs is finished. According to NASA's AIM spacecraft, the last clouds were observed over Greenland on Aug. 27th. Now the waiting begins for the southern season expected to begin in November.
Switch view: Europe, USA, Asia, Polar
Updated at: 09-01-2015 09:00:00
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2015 Nov 05 2200 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
25 %
25 %
05 %
05 %
Geomagnetic Storms:
Probabilities for significant disturbances in Earth's magnetic field are given for three activity levels: active, minor storm, severe storm
Updated at: 2015 Nov 05 2200 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
20 %
40 %
05 %
20 %
01 %
05 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
20 %
10 %
25 %
30 %
25 %
60 %
Thursday, Nov. 5, 2015
What's up in space

Marianne's Heaven On Earth Aurora Chaser Tours invites you to join them in their quest to find and photograph the Aurora Borealis. Experience the winter wonderland in the Tromsø Area.

Chase the Light Tours

INCOMING CME, CHANCE OF STORMS ON NOV 7th: Another round of geomagnetic storms may be in the offing. Sunspot AR2443 erupted on Nov. 4th, hurling a CME into space: movie. The magnetized cloud of plasma is expected to deliver a glancing blow to Earth's magnetic field on Nov. 7th. NOAA forcasters say G1-class geomagnetic storms and auroras are possible when the CME arrives. Aurora alerts: text or voice

TAURID FIREBALLS: There is no longer any doubt. Earth is passing through a stream of gravelly debris from Comet Encke, source of the annual Taurid meteor shower. Meteoroids the size of pebbles, and larger, are disintegrating as they hit our planet's atmosphere at 30 km/s. To see what effect this is having on the night sky, Martin Popek of Nýdek (Czech republic) activated a low-light camera in his backyard and let it run all night long. This is what it recorded:

There were almost a dozen exploding meteors--all brighter than Venus and one as bright as a crescent Moon. "It was a very active night," says Popek.

Earth runs unto the debris zone of Comet Encke every year around this time. Usually, the encounter produces a minor meteor shower, but 2015 is different.

"This is higher than usual activity," says meteor expert Peter Brown of the University of Western Ontario. "The Canadian Meteor Orbit Radar (CMOR) is seeing stronger Taurid activity than any of the last few years. Our Southern Ontario Meteor Network cameras caught 54 Taurid fireballs from Oct 31 - Nov 4 alone, compared to 22, 18, and 32 Taurids for the entire month of November in 2014, 2013 and 2012 respectively."

These extra fireballs are coming from a "swarm" of gravelly meteoroids that weaves in and out of Comet Encke's dusty debris zone. In some years, Earth hits the swarm; in other years it misses. 2015 appears to be a hit.

"I would say with some confidence the 2015 Taurid 'swarm' is active as predicted by astronomer David Asher," adds Brown. If those predictions continue to be correct, the fireball display could carry on until Nov. 10th. The best time to look, no matter where you live, is during the hours around local midnight when the constellation Taurus is high in the sky. [meteor radar]

Realtime Taurid Photo Gallery

MILITARY SATELLITE RE-ENTRY: The Taurid meteor shower is active, but not every fireball is a Taurid. Paul Nelson was watching the auroras over Marquette, Michigan, on Nov. 4th when he saw strange lights overhead. "There were between 10 and 20 objects of some type flying slowly across the sky from West to East and burning up upon entering the atmosphere," says Nelson. "Fortunately one of my cameras captured it."

"It was one of the strangest things I've ever witnessed," he adds.

Observers in Minnesota, Wisconsin and other parts of Michigan witnessed a similar display. Satellite expert Ted Molczan explains what they saw: "The passage of the trail through the bowl of the Big Dipper in Nelson's photo closely matches my estimate of the re-entry trajectory of NFIRE, a military satellite that decayed on Nov. 4th."

NFIRE, short for the Near-Field Infrared Experiment, was launched in 2007 aboard a Minotaur rocket from Wallops Island, Virginia. Its mission for the U.S. Missile Defense Agency was to monitor missile launches and collect data on exhaust plumes from rockets. Originally, NFIRE was also supposed to carry a demonstration kill vehicle for anti-missile defense. Eventually, however, that aspect of the mission was abandoned. NFIRE was retired in August 2015 after more than 8 years in space..

Realtime Space Weather Photo Gallery

Realtime Aurora Photo Gallery

Realtime Meteor 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

On Nov. 5, 2015, the network reported 19 fireballs.
(12 Northern Taurids, 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 November 5, 2015 there were potentially hazardous asteroids.
Recent & Upcoming Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
2015 TB145
Oct 31
1.3 LD
450 m
2015 VH1
Nov 4
8.2 LD
16 m
2015 TD179
Nov 4
10.5 LD
52 m
2015 VY
Nov 6
2.5 LD
27 m
2005 UL5
Nov 20
5.9 LD
390 m
2003 EB50
Nov 29
48.8 LD
2.2 km
2007 BG29
Dec 1
54.1 LD
1.1 km
1998 WT24
Dec 11
10.9 LD
1.1 km
2011 YD29
Dec 24
9.7 LD
24 m
2003 SD220
Dec 24
28.4 LD
1.8 km
2008 CM
Dec 29
22.8 LD
1.5 km
2004 MQ1
Jan 2
55.4 LD
1.1 km
1999 JV6
Jan 6
12.6 LD
410 m
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
Situation Report -- Oct. 30, 2015 Stratospheric Radiation (+37o N)
Cosmic ray levels are elevated (+6.1% above the Space Age median). The trend is flat. Cosmic ray levels have increased +0% in the past month.
Sept. 06: 4.14 uSv/hr (414 uRad/hr)
Sept. 12: 4.09 uSv/hr (409 uRad/hr)
Sept. 23: 4.12 uSv/hr (412 uRad/hr)
Sept. 25: 4.16 uSv/hr (416 uRad/hr)
Sept. 27: 4.13 uSv/hr (413 uRad/hr)
Oct. 11: 4.02 uSv/hr (402 uRad/hr)
Oct. 22: 4.11 uSv/hr (402 uRad/hr)
These measurements are based on regular space weather balloon flights: learn more.

Approximately once a week, 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. Our measurements show that someone flying back and forth across the continental USA, just once, can absorb as much ionizing radiation as 2 to 5 dental X-rays. Here is the data from our latest flight, Oct. 22nd:

Radiation levels peak at the entrance to the stratosphere in a broad region called the "Pfotzer Maximum." This peak is named after physicist George Pfotzer who discovered it using balloons and Geiger tubes in the 1930s. Radiation levels there are more than 80x sea level.

Note that the bottom of the Pfotzer Maximim is near 55,000 ft. This means that some high-flying aircraft are not far from the zone of maximum radiation. Indeed, according to the Oct 22th measurements, a plane flying at 45,000 feet is exposed to 2.79 uSv/hr. At that rate, a passenger would absorb about one dental X-ray's worth of radiation in about 5 hours.

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.

  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.
  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
  the underlying science of space weather
Columbia Northern High School
  Web-based high school science course with free enrollment
  more links...
©2015 All rights reserved. This site is penned daily by Dr. Tony Phillips.
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