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SpaceWeather.com -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
 
Solar wind
speed: 322.2 km/sec
density: 11.9 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2351 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: B1
2129 UT Jun04
24-hr: B1
0813 UT Jun04
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2300 UT
Daily Sun: 04 Jun 16
For the first time in almost two years, the sun is blank--no sunspots! Credit: SDO/HMI

Sunspot number: 0
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 04 Jun 2016

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 1 days
2016 total: 1 days (<1%)
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 04 Jun 2016


The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 83 sfu
explanation | more data
Updated 04 Jun 2016

Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
Credit: NOAA/Ovation
Planetary K-index
Now: Kp= 1 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 1
quiet
explanation | more data
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 6.1 nT
Bz: 4.5 nT north
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2351 UT
Coronal Holes: 04 Jun 16
Solar wind flowing from the indicated coronal hole could reach Earth late on June 4th, although June 5th or 6th seems more likely. Credit: SDO/AIA.
Noctilucent Clouds Images from NASA's AIM spacecraft are once again appearing on Spaceweather.com. Check back daily for space-based sightings of noctilucent clouds.
Switch view: Europe, USA, Asia, Polar
Updated at: 06-04-2016 15:55:02
SPACE WEATHER
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2016 Jun 04 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: 2016 Jun 04 2200 UTC
Mid-latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
ACTIVE
30 %
30 %
MINOR
35 %
15 %
SEVERE
20 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
ACTIVE
10 %
15 %
MINOR
20 %
30 %
SEVERE
70 %
40 %
 
Saturday, Jun. 4, 2016
What's up in space
       
 

It's waiting for you: The most successful Aurora Photo Tour on Earth! 100% success rate 4 years in a row and winner of the TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence Award. Join LapplandMedia's aurora tours in Abisko, Swedish Lapland!

 

WEEKEND STORMS ARE LIKELY: NOAA forecasters estimate a 70% chance of geomagnetic storms on June 4th and 5th when a solar wind stream hits Earth's magnetic field. Deja vu? This stream has been here before. On May 8th (Mother's Day), it sparked the strongest geomagnetic storm of 2016. During that G3-class event, auroras were photographed in the USA as far south as Kansas and Arkansas. This time, analysts expect the storm to peak at G2--not as strong as the Mother's Day Storm, but still worth watching. High-latitude sky watchers should be alert for auroras,especially in the southern hemisphere where darkening autumn skies favor visibility. Aurora alerts: text, voice.

VANISHING SUNSPOTS: Something interesting is happening on the sun. Yesterday, June 3rd, the sunspot number dropped to 0, and the solar disk is still blank on June 4th. Latest images from NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory reveal no significant dark cores:

What does this mean? The solar cycle is like a pendulum, swinging back and forth between periods of high and low sunspot number every 11 years. Today's blank sun is a sign that the pendulum is swinging toward low sunspot numbers. In other words, Solar Minimum is coming.

The spotless state of today's sun is just temporary. Underneath the visible surface of the sun, the solar dynamo is still churning out knots of magnetism that will soon bob to the surface to make new sunspots. The current solar cycle is not finished. It is, however, rapidly waning.

Forecasters expect the next Solar Minimum to arrive in 2019-2020. Between now and then, there will be lots of spotless suns. At first, the blank stretches will be measured in days; later in weeks and months. Don't expect space weather to grow quiet, however. Solar Minimum brings many interesting changes. For instance, as the extreme ultraviolet output of the sun decreases, the upper atmosphere of Earth cools and collapses. This allows space junk to accumulate around our planet. Also, the heliosphere shrinks, bringing interstellar space closer to Earth. Galactic cosmic rays penetrate the inner solar system with relative ease. Indeed, a cosmic ray surge is already underway. Goodbye sunspots, hello deep-space radiation!

Realtime Space Weather Photo Gallery

SPACE BALLS FOR FATHER'S DAY: What do you give the Father who has everything? Space Balls! A few days ago, the students of Earth to Sky Calculus flew a basket of space-helmeted golf balls to the edge of space, 36.3 km (119,000 feet) above Earth's surface on board a high altitude helium balloon:

After the balloon exploded, the balls parachuted back to Earth, landing in the volcanic tablelands north of Bishop CA. For $49.95 you can have one of these balls (space helmet included) along with a unique Father's Day card showing the balls floating at the top of Earth's atmosphere. The interior of the card tells the story of the flight and confirms that this gift has been to the edge of space and back again.

All sales support student space weather research. In fact, the balls pictured above were hitchhiking on a payload equipped with radiation sensors. We send the sensors to the stratosphere every week to monitor increasing levels of cosmic rays. Visit the Earth to Sky store to support this crowd-funded research.

THE EDGE OF SPACE IS TURNING ELECTRIC BLUE: NASA's AIM spacecraft spotted the first noctilucent clouds (NLCs) of the 2016 season on May 24th. Those first clouds were wispy and faint. What a difference a week makes. On June 2nd, a bright display of NLCs wowed observers across the British Isles. Matt Robinson sends this picture from Kielder Observatory in Northumberland, UK:

"The display started at 11pm and we could tell it was going to be a strong one," says Robinson. "It carried on and got brighter for a further 2 hours. If this is a sign of things to come, this NLC season is going to be one to remember."

NLCs are Earth's highest clouds. Seeded by meteoroids, they float at the edge of space more than 80 km above the planet's surface. Typically, NLCs are brightest in late June and July. A bright display in early June is a good omen indeed.

When noctilucent clouds first appeared in the 19th century, they were confined to Arctic latitudes. In recent years, NLCs have intensified and spread with sightings as far south as Utah and Colorado. This could be a sign of increasing greenhouse gases in Earth's atmosphere.

Observing tips: Look west 30 to 60 minutes after sunset when the Sun has dipped 6o to 16o 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


Realtime Aurora Photo Gallery


Realtime Sprite Photo Gallery


Realtime Comet 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 Jun. 4, 2016, the network reported 16 fireballs.
(16 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 June 4, 2016 there were 1704 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Recent & Upcoming Earth-asteroid encounters:
Asteroid
Date(UT)
Miss Distance
Size
2016 LV
Jun 1
3.6 LD
108 m
2016 LB
Jun 3
5.5 LD
123 m
2016 JB29
Jun 4
12.1 LD
49 m
2016 KR
Jun 5
9.9 LD
42 m
2016 LG
Jun 6
2.9 LD
39 m
2016 LR
Jun 9
5.9 LD
21 m
1997 XF11
Jun 10
70 LD
1.8 km
2016 KL
Jun 11
5.8 LD
33 m
2015 XZ378
Jun 13
9.7 LD
16 m
2009 CV
Jun 20
12.4 LD
60 m
2010 NY65
Jun 24
10.7 LD
215 m
2002 KL6
Jul 22
26.6 LD
1.4 km
2011 BX18
Jul 25
52.7 LD
1.1 km
2005 OH3
Aug 3
5.8 LD
28 m
2000 DP107
Aug 12
66.5 LD
1.0 km
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 (411 uRad/hr)
These measurements are based on regular space weather balloon flights: learn more.

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.

  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
Heliophysics
  the underlying science of space weather
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