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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Solar wind
speed: 524.0 km/sec
density: 5.1 protons/cm3
more data: ACE, DSCOVR
Updated: Today at 2346 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A2
1951 UT Nov05
24-hr: A2
1027 UT Nov05
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2300 UT
Daily Sun: 05 Nov 18
The sun is blank--no sunspots. Credit: SDO/HMI

Sunspot number: 0
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 05 Nov 2018

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 18 days
2018 total: 184 days (60%)
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 05 Nov 2018

Thermosphere Climate Index
today: 4.13
x1010 W Cold
Max: 49.4
x1010 W Hot (10/1957)
Min: 2.05
x1010 W Cold (02/2009)
explanation | more data
Updated 05 Nov 2018

The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 67 sfu
explanation | more data
Updated 05 Nov 2018

Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
Credit: NOAA/Ovation
Planetary K-index
Now: Kp= 4 unsettled
24-hr max: Kp= 6
explanation | more data
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 3.0 nT
Bz: -0.1 nT south
more data: ACE, DSCOVR
Updated: Today at 2346 UT
Coronal Holes: 05 Nov 18

Earth is inside a stream of solar wind flowing from the indicated coronal hole. Credit: SDO/AIA
Noctilucent Clouds The season for noctilucent clouds (NLCs) in the northern hemisphere has come to an end. Images from NASA's AIM spacecraft show no NLCs around the north pole.
Switch view: Europe, USA, Asia, Polar
Updated at: 09-03-2018 14:55:02
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2018 Nov 05 2200 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
01 %
01 %
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: 2018 Nov 05 2200 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
30 %
25 %
15 %
05 %
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
10 %
15 %
25 %
30 %
50 %
40 %
Monday, Nov. 5, 2018
What's up in space

Lights Over Lapland has a brand-new website full of exciting adventures in Abisko National Park, Sweden! Take a look at our aurora activities and book your once-in-a-lifetime trip with us today!


SUBSIDING STORMS: Earth's magnetic field is quieting again after a night of storming. G1- and G2-class storm conditions were observed on Nov. 4th and 5th when a high-speed stream of solar wind made contact with our planet's magnetic field. The show's not over. Although the storms are subsiding, intermittent Arctic auroras remain possible tonight as the solar wind continues to blow faster than 500 km/s. Free: Aurora Alerts.

NORTHERN LIGHTS IN THE USA: During last night's G2-class geomagnetic storm, Northern Lights spilled across the Canadian border into the USA. It wasn't a big display, but many observers noticed the sky turning gently green. "I was glad to see it for the first time in awhile," reports Kevin Palmer who took this picture from Parkman, Wyoming:

"I even caught a meteor in one of the frames," he says.

Sightings in other US states include Montana, Iowa, Washington, North Dakota and, last but not least, Alaska.  Another episode of geomagnetic storms is expected about 5 days from now. Northern-tier sky watchers, warm up your cameras and stay tuned.

Realtime Aurora Photo Gallery

A RED ARC OVER FINLAND: You've heard of auroras--green and purple lights that dance in the sky during geomagnetic storms. But have you ever heard of an SAR? Stable Auroral Red arcs (SARs) were discovered in 1956 at the beginning of the Space Age and have been recorded by cameras on satellites hundreds of times since. Most aurora watchers have never seen one, though, because they are usually invisible to the human eye. Last night in southern Finland, Matti Helin saw one:

"The SAR was visible to the naked eye for nearly 30 minutes and, after fading a bit, remained visible to my camera for another hour and a half," says Helin. "Normally we see auroras in the north, but this stable red arc appeared to our south. It was strange shooting in that direction :D"

SARs are related to auroras, but they are not the same. Regular auroras appear when high-energy particles rain down along polar magnetic field lines, hitting the atmosphere (100-200 km high) and causing it to glow like the picture tube of an old color TV. SARs form differently. They are a sign of heat energy leaking into the upper atmosphere (~400 km high) from Earth's ring current system. Normally, SARs become visible to the naked eye only during strong geomagnetic storms. Last night's G1-storm was far from strong, but the arc appeared anyway--further proof that auroras can be full of surprises.

Realtime Aurora Photo Gallery

CRYSTAL STARSHIP ENTERPRISE: Last month, the students of Earth to Sky Calculus launched the starship Enterprise to the stratosphere. Riding onboard a high-altitude cosmic ray balloon, the laser-etched crystal spaceship traveled 34.7 km (113,845 feet) above Earth's surface:

You can have it for $149.95. The students are selling the Enterprise to support their cosmic ray ballooning program. Each starship comes with a greeting card showing the item in flight and telling the story of its journey to the edge of space. Also included is a multi-colored LED illuminated stand (shown in the picture above). This creates a colorful visual effect and allows the Enterprise to be used as a far-out night light.

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

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

On Nov. 5, 2018, the network reported 19 fireballs.
(11 sporadics, 5 Northern Taurids, 2 omicron Eridanids, 1 Orionid)

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, 2018 there were 1936 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Recent & Upcoming Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
Velocity (km/s)
Diameter (m)
2018 UC
5.4 LD
2018 VD
1.7 LD
2018 VL
1.5 LD
2018 VB
5.7 LD
2018 UD3
1.6 LD
2018 VP1
0.4 LD
2018 VT
9 LD
2018 VG
1.2 LD
2018 VA1
7.6 LD
2018 UY1
7.5 LD
2002 VE68
14.7 LD
2018 TF3
7.8 LD
2018 VW
15.4 LD
2018 VN1
8.7 LD
2010 VQ
15.6 LD
2018 UQ1
9.4 LD
2018 VK1
10.2 LD
2007 UL12
16.4 LD
2009 WB105
15.2 LD
2008 WD14
7.4 LD
2001 WO15
13.6 LD
2018 TG6
3.9 LD
2013 VX4
4.1 LD
2015 XX169
17 LD
2017 XQ60
11.3 LD
7.4 LD
16.6 LD
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, 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.
  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
  the underlying science of space weather welcomes two supporters of science communication: SEO Phoenix AZ and CRAS, the Conservatory of Recording Arts and Sciences.
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