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SpaceWeather.com -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
 
Solar wind
speed: 364.9 km/sec
density: 5.8 protons/cm3
more data: ACE, DSCOVR
Updated: Today at 2351 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A6
2051 UT Aug18
24-hr: A6
1354 UT Aug18
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2300 UT
Daily Sun: 18 Aug 19
The sun is blank--no sunspots. Credit: SDO/HMI

Sunspot number: 0
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 18 Aug 2019

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 11 days
2019 total: 155 days (67%)
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 18 Aug 2019


Thermosphere Climate Index
today: 3.06
x1010 W Cold
Max: 49.4
x1010 W Hot (10/1957)
Min: 2.05
x1010 W Cold (02/2009)
explanation | more data: gfx, txt
Updated 17 Aug 2019

The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 68 sfu
explanation | more data
Updated 18 Aug 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= 3
quiet
explanation | more data
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 2.5 nT
Bz: 1.8 nT north
more data: ACE, DSCOVR
Updated: Today at 2350 UT
Coronal Holes: 18 Aug 19


A stream of solar wind flowing from this southern coronal hole could reach Earth on Aug 20-21
. Credit: SDO/AIA

Noctilucent Clouds The northern season for noctilucent clouds is underway. Monitor the daily images from NASA's AIM spacecraft to see how the clouds spread around the Arctic Circle as northern summer unfolds.
Switch view: Europe, USA, Asia, Polar
Updated at: 07-18-2019 14:55:02
SPACE WEATHER
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2019 Aug 18 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 Aug 18 2200 UTC
Mid-latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
ACTIVE
05 %
10 %
MINOR
01 %
01 %
SEVERE
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
ACTIVE
15 %
15 %
MINOR
15 %
15 %
SEVERE
05 %
15 %
 
Sunday, Aug. 18, 2019
What's up in space
       
 

Special Offer: SAVE 600nok per person. Book a combination aurora borealis chase and scenic day tour during the months of September, October or November 2019 for the special price of 1800 kr. Check Marianne's webpage for details!

 

THE NEXT STREAM OF SOLAR WIND: Earth is passing through a void between streams of solar wind. The next stream lies ahead. Estimated time of arrival: Aug. 20-21. The gaseous material is flowing from a southern hole in the sun's atmosphere. Its grazing impact could spark geomagnetic activity just below the level of a G1-class storm. Aurora alerts: SMS Text.

WHY ARE SO MANY METEORS GREEN? The Moon is not made of green cheese. Neither are meteors. But if that's true, why are so many meteors green? During the recent Perseid meteor shower, sky watchers witnessed hundreds of green meteors. Take a look at this fireball. And this one. And this one. And, last but not least, this one:

"This green Perseid cut right through the Double Cluster (h Persei and χ Persei) in Perseus," says photographer David Blanchard of Flagstaff, Arizona, who caught the verdant streak during a 30 second exposure with his Nikon digital camera.

The source of the green is not cheese, it's air. Green is caused by oxygen in Earth's atmosphere. When a meteoroid rips through the atmosphere, air in its path becomes so hot that oxygen molecules briefly lose one of their electrons. They recombine (e- + O2+) very rapidly, emitting green photons as a side-effect. A similar process is responsible for the green colors of many auroras.

Blanchard's meteor has a fringe of yellow alongside the green. Yellow, it turns out, is due to the meteor. When a sodium-rich meteoroid cuts through the atmosphere, hot sodium vapors glow yellow like a sodium discharge lamp.

Realtime Space Weather Photo Gallery
Free: Spaceweather.com Newsletter

APOLLO 11 PROOF SILVER DOLLARS: The students of Earth to Sky Calculus weren't even born when Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed on the Moon in 1969 years ago. Nevertheless, they "get it." On July 20th, the students launched 50 Apollo 11 silver dollars to the stratosphere onboard a cosmic ray balloon. The coins touched the edge of space 50 years to the day after Neil and Buzz made footprints in the Sea of Tranquillity:

You can have one for $197.95. The students are selling these coins to support their cosmic ray ballooning program. Quantities are limited and more than half have already been sold. Each one comes with a greeting card showing the item in flight and telling the story of its journey to the edge of space.

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


Realtime Aurora Photo Gallery
Free:
Spaceweather.com Newsletter

  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 Aug. 17, 2019, the network reported 36 fireballs.
(23 sporadics, 12 Perseids, 1 Southern delta Aquariid)

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 August 18, 2019 there were 1983 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Recent & Upcoming Earth-asteroid encounters:
Asteroid
Date(UT)
Miss Distance
Velocity (km/s)
Diameter (m)
2019 PJ
2019-Aug-16
8.8 LD
14.2
60
2018 PN22
2019-Aug-17
17.1 LD
2.3
11
2019 PK
2019-Aug-18
11 LD
7.4
30
2016 PD1
2019-Aug-26
11.3 LD
5.9
65
2002 JR100
2019-Aug-27
19.4 LD
8.4
49
2019 OU1
2019-Aug-28
2.7 LD
13
95
2019 OF2
2019-Sep-03
18.3 LD
10.7
53
2018 DE1
2019-Sep-03
12.7 LD
6.6
28
2019 GT3
2019-Sep-06
19.5 LD
13.6
227
2010 RM82
2019-Sep-13
18.2 LD
14.6
23
2013 CV83
2019-Sep-13
15.7 LD
13.1
62
504800
2019-Sep-14
13.9 LD
14.4
155
467317
2019-Sep-14
13.9 LD
6.4
389
2019 JF1
2019-Sep-16
11.2 LD
4.3
61
2018 FU1
2019-Sep-16
18.4 LD
4.7
16
2017 SL16
2019-Sep-21
7.9 LD
6.5
25
2017 SM21
2019-Sep-21
11.5 LD
9.6
20
523934
2019-Sep-24
10.9 LD
22.3
257
2017 KP27
2019-Sep-26
6.2 LD
4.8
25
2006 QV89
2019-Sep-27
18.1 LD
4.1
31
2018 FK5
2019-Oct-01
13.3 LD
10.5
8
2018 LG4
2019-Oct-02
13.8 LD
8.1
12
2017 TJ4
2019-Oct-05
13.5 LD
8.9
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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