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MAGNETIC STORM IN PROGRESS: A minor G1-class geomagnetic storms is in progress on July 7th as Earth enters a stream of fast-moving solar wind. High-latitude sky watchers should be alert for auroras, especially in the southern hemisphere where dark winter skies favor visibility. Aurora alerts: text or voice
METEOR SMOKE MAKES STRANGE CLOUDS: Have you ever looked at a noctilucent cloud (NLC) and thought ... that looks alien? In fact, it is. A key ingredient of NLCs comes from outer space. The electric-blue clouds form when wisps of summertime water vapor rise up from Earth and wrap themselves around meteor smoke in the upper atmosphere. For the past few nights, NLCs have been shimmering brightly over much of Europe. Mark Savage photographed this apparition on July 6th from Newcastle Upon Tyne, England:
"The clouds grew more extensive as the night progressed," says Savage. "Just before sunrise, they stretched further eastwards than I've ever seen."
Observers saw them in other European countries, too: France, Sweden, Finland, Germany, the Netherlands, Denmark, Poland, Hungary, Latvia, and Romania. The sighting in Romania is significant because of its latitude--only 46 degrees. This means the clouds have spread south to mid-latitudes.
"It was my first time seeing noctilucent clouds in real life," says Stefan Leahu of Cluj, Romania. "What a wonderful display!"
When noctilucent clouds first appeared in the 19th century, you had to travel near Arctic latitudes to see them. In recent years, however, they have intensified and spread with sightings as far south as Colorado and Kansas. There is mounting evidence that this is a result of climate change.
The frequency of sightings in Europe suggests that electric blue ripples could soon appear over the USA. Observing tips: Look west 30 to 60 minutes after sunset when the sun has dipped ~10 degrees below the horizon. If you see luminous blue-white tendrils spreading across the sky, you may have spotted a noctilucent cloud.
Realtime Noctilucent Cloud Photo Gallery
A DRONE IN THE STRATOSPHERE: Spaceweather.com and the students of Earth to Sky Calculus recently flew a toy drone all the way to the stratosphere. Here it is en route to the edge of space above the White Mountains of central California on June 29th:
How did it get there? Small drones can't fly in the thin air 100,000 feet above Earth's surface; their tiny propellers don't generate enough lift.
Mystery solved: This unpowered drone was carried aloft by a helium balloon. Here it is moments before launch:
The black rectangle just above the drone is a Richo Theta S spherical camera. It's the device that photographed the drone in flight and removed the thin black rope from the scene. The fully-interactive spherical image is fun to explore!
We flew this drone as a promotion for World Tech Toys, who generously sponsored our cosmic ray payload, also shown in the picture above. It's the red capsule underneath the balloon. This flight and others like them are not only fun, but also they contribute to a crucial record of intensifying cosmic rays in the stratosphere.
Readers, if you would like to send an item of your own to the top of Earth's atmosphere, you can book a flight with as little as two week's notice. Contact Dr. Tony Phillips to become a sponsor!
Realtime Aurora Photo Gallery
Realtime Space Weather Photo Gallery
Realtime Sprite Photo Gallery
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 Jul. 7, 2016, the network reported 17 fireballs.
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]
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 July 7, 2016 there were potentially hazardous asteroids. 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 |
These measurements are based on regular space weather balloon flights: learn more.
|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 (411 uRad/hr) |
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. 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. For example, here is the data from a flight on Oct. 22, 2015:
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.
| ||The official U.S. government space weather bureau |
| ||The first place to look for information about sundogs, pillars, rainbows and related phenomena. |
| ||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 |
| ||Realtime and archival images of the Sun from SOHO. |
| ||from the NOAA Space Environment Center |
| ||the underlying science of space weather |
| ||Tobi -- Proud Supporter of Space Education! |
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