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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Solar wind
speed: 470.5 km/sec
density: 11.1 protons/cm3
more data: ACE, DSCOVR
Updated: Today at 2347 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A2
1827 UT Nov09
24-hr: A2
1827 UT Nov09
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2300 UT
Daily Sun: 09 Nov 18
The sun is blank--no sunspots. Credit: SDO/HMI

Sunspot number: 0
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 09 Nov 2018

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 22 days
2018 total: 188 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 09 Nov 2018

Thermosphere Climate Index
today: 4.60
x1010 W Cold
Max: 49.4
x1010 W Hot (10/1957)
Min: 2.05
x1010 W Cold (02/2009)
explanation | more data
Updated 09 Nov 2018

The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 70 sfu
explanation | more data
Updated 09 Nov 2018

Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
Credit: NOAA/Ovation
Planetary K-index
Now: Kp= 3 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 3
explanation | more data
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 12.8 nT
Bz: 4.0 nT north
more data: ACE, DSCOVR
Updated: Today at 2346 UT
Coronal Holes: 09 Nov 18

Solar wind flowing from this large coronal hole could reach Earth as early as Nov. 10th, bringing a chance of G1-class geomagnetic storms. 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 08 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 08 2200 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
35 %
35 %
25 %
25 %
05 %
05 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
10 %
10 %
25 %
25 %
55 %
60 %
Friday, Nov. 9, 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!


CHANCE OF GEOMAGNETIC STORMS: A large hole in the sun's atmosphere is facing Earth, sending a stream ofsolar wind toward our planet. Estimated time of arrival: Nov. 10th. NOAA forecasters say there is a 55% to 60% chance of minor G1-class geomagnetic storms when the stream arrives. High-latitude sky watchers should be alert for auroras tomorrow night. Free: Aurora Alerts.

A BLAST FROM THE PAST (WARTIME SPACE WEATHER IN VIETNAM): On Aug. 2nd, 1972, giant sunspot MR11976 began to explode. For the next 2 days it unleashed a series of X-class flares, causing deep radio blackouts on Earth and punishing the solar panels and onboard electronics of satellites in Earth orbit. One CME (cloud of plasma) rocketed across the sun-Earth divide in only 14.6 hours--a record that still stands today. Resulting geomagnetic storms sparked auroras so bright, they cast shadows in countries as far south as Britian.

Above: Images of giant sunspot MR11976 from the Paris Observatory. [more]

The 1972 solar storm is legendary at NASA because it occurred in between two Apollo missions: the crew of Apollo 16 had returned to Earth in April and the crew of Apollo 17 was preparing for a moon landing in December. If the timing had only been a little different, astronauts could have been sickened by radiation, requiring an emergency return home for medical attention.

Turns out, it's legendary in the Navy, too. According to a research paper just accepted for publication in the journal Space Weather, declassified Naval archives reveal an extraordinary explosion in the sea lanes near Vietnam: "On 4 August (1972) TF-77 aircraft reported some two dozen explosions in a minefield near Hon La over a 30-second time span...Ultimately the Navy concluded that the explosions had been caused by the magnetic perturbations of solar storms, the most intense in more than two decades."

Above: A magnetogram from Manilla reveals unusual disturbances on Aug. 4-5, 1972. [more]

The authors, led by Delores Knipp of the University of Colorado, continue: "Aerial inspections revealed additional evidence of detonations elsewhere along the coast. The wartime memoirs of a US Navy Mineman-Sailor, Chief Petty Officer Michael Gonzales,state: 'During the first few weeks of August, a series of extremely strong solar flares caused a fluctuation of the magnetic fields, in and around, South East Asia. The resulting chain of events caused the premature detonation of over 4,000 magnetically sensitive [mines].'"

This prompted the Navy to fast-track the replacement of magnetic-influence-only mines with mines that also required seismic or acoustic triggers during periods of high solar activity.

The August 1972 storms affected Earth in ways that are are only now being fully understood almost 50 years later. Moreover, Knipp and colleagues say the storms could be a previously-unrecognized example of an extreme Carrington-class event, and they urge further scrutiny. Given the experience of the US Navy, who can argue? Read the original research here.

Realtime Space Weather Photo Gallery

PURPLE HEART SPACE PENDANT: Nothing says "I Love You" like a heart-shaped pendant from the edge of space. Last week, the students of Earth to Sky Calculus flew an array of cosmic ray sensors to the stratosphere onboard a giant helium balloon. This purple heart went along for the ride:

You can have it for $129.95. The students are selling these pendants as a fund-raiser for their cosmic ray monitoring program. They make great anniversary, birthday and Christmas gifts. Each pendant comes with a greeting card showing the jewelry in flight and telling the story of its journey to the stratosphere and back again.

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

Realtime Aurora 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. 9, 2018, the network reported 23 fireballs.
(16 sporadics, 4 Northern Taurids, 1 Orionid, 1 chi Taurid, 1 November I Draconid)

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 9, 2018 there were 1936 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Recent & Upcoming Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
Velocity (km/s)
Diameter (m)
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 VA2
1.9 LD
2018 VS1
3.6 LD
2018 VR1
13.2 LD
2018 VX1
1 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
2014 AD16
12.9 LD
2016 AZ8
11.6 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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