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SpaceWeather.com -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
 
Solar wind
speed: 348.1 km/sec
density: 9.1 protons/cm3
more data: ACE, DSCOVR
Updated: Today at 2351 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A7
1732 UT May22
24-hr: A7
1632 UT May22
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2300 UT
Daily Sun: 22 May 19
The sun is blank--no sunspots. Credit: SDO/HMI

Sunspot number: 0
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 22 May 2019

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 3 days
2019 total: 77 days (54%)
2018 total: 221 days (61%)
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%)
2008 total: 268 days (73%)
2007 total: 152 days (42%)
2006 total: 70 days (19%)

Updated 22 May 2019


Thermosphere Climate Index
today: 4.43
x1010 W Cold
Max: 49.4
x1010 W Hot (10/1957)
Min: 2.05
x1010 W Cold (02/2009)
explanation | more data
Updated 18 May 2019

The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux:68 sfu
explanation | more data
Updated 22 May 2019

Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
Credit: NOAA/Ovation
Planetary K-index
Now: Kp= 1 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 2
quiet
explanation | more data
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 1.7 nT
Bz: 0.1 nT north
more data: ACE, DSCOVR
Updated: Today at 2351 UT
Coronal Holes: 22 May 19


A weak stream of solar wind flowing from this coronal hole should reach Earth on May 22nd or 23rd.
Credit: SDO/AIA

Noctilucent Clouds The northern season for noctilicent clouds about to begin! Monitor the daily iimages from NASA's AIM spacecraft for the first signs of electric-blue around the North Pole..
Switch view: Europe, USA, Asia, Polar
Updated at: 05-22-2019 13:55:04
SPACE WEATHER
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2019 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: 2019 May 22 2200 UTC
Mid-latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
ACTIVE
10 %
10 %
MINOR
01 %
01 %
SEVERE
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
ACTIVE
15 %
15 %
MINOR
20 %
20 %
SEVERE
15 %
15 %
 
Wednesday, May. 22, 2019
What's up in space
       
 

Solar minimum is here - but even now strangely beautiful auroras are dancing around the poles. Deep inside the Arctic Circle, the expert guides of Aurora Holidays in Utsjoki, Finland, can help you chase them. Book now!

 

ALERT! THE GREAT RED SPOT IS DISTORTED: Astrophotographer Anthony Wesley of Rubyvale, Australia, has just observed Jupiter's Great Red Spot (GRS) and he reports that the giant storm is "badly distorted." This follows multiple observations by amateur astronomers of streamers of gas peeling off the GRS. "It seems the process taking place there is increasing significantly in intensity," says Wesley. Here are his latest filtered images: blue; infrared; RGB.

POLAR MESOSPHERIC SUMMER ECHOES: Every summer since the late 1970s, radars probing Earth's upper atmosphere have detected strong echoes from altitudes between 80 km and 90 km. What's up there? Noctilucent clouds (NLCs). NASA's AIM spacecraft is still waiting to spot the first NLCs of the 2019 season, but the echoes have already begun. Rob Stammes of the Polarlightcenter in Lofoten, Norway, detected them on May 19th and 20th:

"I detected these VHF signals coming from transmitters in Eastern Europe," he explains. "Before they reached my receiver in Norway, they bounced off something in the mesosphere. The echoes were recognizable and very strong."

Researchers call them "Polar Mesospheric Summer Echoes" or "PMSEs." They occur over the Arctic during the months of May through August, and over the Antarctic during the months of November through February. These are the same months that NLCs appear.

The underlying physics of these echoes is still uncertain. A leading theory holds that the ice particles in noctilucent clouds are electrically charged, and this makes them good reflectors of radio waves. However, NLCs are not always visible when the radar echoes are observed and vice versa.


Above: Noctilucent clouds observed by Kairo Kiitsak of Simuna, Estonia, on July 26, 2018.

The echoes Stammes detected suggest that the season for NLCs is about to begin.

"It certainly should be starting soon!" says Cora Randall of the AIM science team at the University of Colorado. "We've been looking at MLS temperature and water vapor data. As of last week, the north polar mesopause was colder and wetter than in any other years of the AIM record at this time." In other words, conditions are ripe for water vapor to crystallize around meteor smoke, forming icy tendrils of electric-blue at the edge of space.

High-latitude sky watchers should be alert for their return. Observing tips: Look west 30 minutes or so after sunset when the sun has dipped 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

THE BLACK HOLE PENDANT: Albert Einstein never wore jewelry, but even he might make an exception for this: The Black Hole Pendant. This singular piece of relativistic neckwear flew to the edge of space last week on board an Earth to Sky Calculus cosmic ray balloon. At the apex of its flight it was 117,454 feet above the Sierra Nevada mountains of central California:

You can have it for $119.95. The students are selling these pendants to support their cosmic ray ballooning program--an increasing necessity because of the worldwide helium shortage. Balloon flights are becoming expensive! Each pendant comes with a greeting card showing the item in flight and telling the story of its journey to the edge of space and back.

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


Realtime Aurora Photo Gallery


Free: Spaceweather.com Newsletter


Realtime Space Weather 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, 2019, 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 May 22, 2019 there were 1983 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Recent & Upcoming Earth-asteroid encounters:
Asteroid
Date(UT)
Miss Distance
Velocity (km/s)
Diameter (m)
2019 JG1
2019-May-17
5.6 LD
8.1
17
2012 KT12
2019-May-17
4.2 LD
4
20
2019 GT1
2019-May-17
6.1 LD
3.9
36
2019 JR1
2019-May-18
16.2 LD
10
44
2019 JB1
2019-May-20
16.8 LD
26
233
2019 JL3
2019-May-20
2.5 LD
8.8
37
2019 JF7
2019-May-24
14.7 LD
10.9
37
2015 KQ18
2019-May-25
10.7 LD
13.1
30
66391
2019-May-25
13.5 LD
21.5
1780
2003 LH
2019-May-28
15.6 LD
7.4
32
2011 HP
2019-May-30
12.3 LD
8.4
135
2019 JX2
2019-Jun-06
13.8 LD
7
44
2014 MF18
2019-Jun-06
8.8 LD
3
22
441987
2019-Jun-24
7.7 LD
12.6
178
2008 KV2
2019-Jun-27
17.8 LD
11.4
195
2016 NN15
2019-Jun-28
9.6 LD
8.4
16
2015 XC352
2019-Jul-01
11.9 LD
4.1
26
2016 OF
2019-Jul-07
12.8 LD
8.5
85
2016 NO56
2019-Jul-07
3.4 LD
12.2
26
2016 NJ33
2019-Jul-12
15 LD
4.5
32
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

SOMETHING NEW! We have developed a new predictive model of aviation radiation. It's called E-RAD--short for Empirical RADiation model. We are constantly flying radiation sensors onboard airplanes over the US and and around the world, so far collecting more than 22,000 gps-tagged radiation measurements. Using this unique dataset, we can predict the dosage on any flight over the USA with an error no worse than 15%.

E-RAD lets us do something new: Every day we monitor approximately 1400 flights criss-crossing the 10 busiest routes in the continental USA. Typically, this includes more than 80,000 passengers per day. E-RAD calculates the radiation exposure for every single flight.

The Hot Flights Table is a daily summary of these calculations. It shows the 5 charter flights with the highest dose rates; the 5 commercial flights with the highest dose rates; 5 commercial flights with near-average dose rates; and the 5 commercial flights with the lowest dose rates. Passengers typically experience dose rates that are 20 to 70 times higher than natural radiation at sea level.

To measure radiation on airplanes, we use the same sensors we fly to the stratosphere onboard Earth to Sky Calculus cosmic ray balloons: neutron bubble chambers and X-ray/gamma-ray Geiger tubes sensitive to energies between 10 keV and 20 MeV. These energies span the range of medical X-ray machines and airport security scanners.

Column definitions: (1) The flight number; (2) The maximum dose rate during the flight, expressed in units of natural radiation at sea level; (3) The maximum altitude of the plane in feet above sea level; (4) Departure city; (5) Arrival city; (6) Duration of the flight.

SPACE WEATHER BALLOON DATA: 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 18% since 2015:

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.

En route to the stratosphere, our sensors also pass through aviation altitudes:

In this plot, 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.

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.

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.

  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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