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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Solar wind
speed: 478.7 km/sec
density: 7.5 protons/cm3
more data: ACE, DSCOVR
Updated: Today at 2351 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A4
1841 UT Jan15
24-hr: A4
0538 UT Jan15
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2300 UT
Daily Sun: 15 Jan 18
The sun is blank--no sunspots. Credit: SDO/HMI

Sunspot number: 0
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 15 Jan 2018

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 3 days
2018 total: 7 days (47%)
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%)

Updated 15 Jan 2018

The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 68 sfu
explanation | more data
Updated 15 Jan 2018

Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
Credit: NOAA/Ovation
Planetary K-index
Now: Kp= 2 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 4
explanation | more data
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 3.2 nT
Bz: -0.4 nT south
more data: ACE, DSCOVR
Updated: Today at 2352 UT
Coronal Holes: 15 Jan 18

Solar wind flowing from the indicated coronal hole should reach Earth on Jan. 19-20, sparking G1-class geomagnetic storms. Credit: SDO/AIA
Noctilucent Clouds Our connection with NASA's AIM spacecraft has been restored! New images from AIM show that the southern season for noctilucent clouds (NLCs) is underway. Come back to this spot every day to see AIM's "daily daisy," which reveals the dance of electric-blue NLCs around the Antarctic Circle..
Switch view: Ross Ice Shelf, Antarctic Peninsula, East Antarctica, Polar
Updated at: 01-15-2018 15:55:03
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2018 Jan 15 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 Jan 15 2200 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
10 %
10 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
15 %
15 %
15 %
15 %
10 %
10 %
Monday, Jan. 15, 2018
What's up in space

Lights Over Lapland is excited to announce that we now have TWO aurora webcams covering nearly a 200° view of Abisko National Park in Sweden! Watch the auroras dance live, all season long here.


CO-ROTATING INTERACTION REGION: A solar wind stream engulfed Earth on Jan. 14th. Just before it arrived, a CIR (co-rotating interaction region) hit our planet's magnetic field. Marianne Bergli witnessed the resulting explosion of auroras over Kvaløy, Norway:

"The CIR predicted by arrived bang on time," says Bergli. "The auroras were wonderful."

Co-rotating interaction regions are transition zones between slow- and fast-moving streams of solar wind. Shock-like density gradients and enhanced magnetic fields inside CIRs can mimic the effect of CMEs (coronal mass ejections), sparking geomagnetic storms and bright auroras when they interact with Earth's magnetic field. In this case, the geomagnetic storm ranked G1 on NOAA scales.

Neither sunspots nor solar flares are required for this kind of display. Indeed, the sun was completely spotless at the time of the outburst. A hole in the sun's atmosphere provided the stream of the solar wind, and the CIR did the rest. Free: Aurora Alerts.

Realtime Aurora Photo Gallery

ASHES SCATTERED IN THE STRATOSPHERE: In August 2016, geologist Lee Allison, the director of the Arizona Geological Survey, passed away. On Dec. 31, 2017, the students of Earth to Sky Calculus flew his ashes to the stratosphere using a robotic ash scatterer. The space weather balloon flight, which also gathered data on atmospheric radiation, was sponsored by Lee's wife Ann Becker to honor Lee and mark the sky-high impact he had on colleagues, students, friends and family.

"Lee was always interested in space," says Ann, "and like a lot of us who grew up with the space program, he always wanted to go into space. Funding a balloon flight and spreading his ashes in the stratosphere are definitely things he would have appreciated.

"I grew up in central Wyoming. Our 9th grade earth science teachers conducted field science programs (geology and botany mostly) in the summer. I think science programs outside the normal school day can change a young person's trajectory. They certainly changed mine. Ultimately I studied geophysics and earned a PhD in seismology.

"I remember something my high school senior year AP calculus teacher said (1969, right after the Apollo 11 mission): that the boys in the class were the astronauts of the future, and the girls would be their wives and support them. I'm pleased that times have changed, pleased that there are programs like Earth to Sky Calculus that make it easier for young women to not bury their intelligence or interests because society says they're supposed to.

"Lee always supported women in geology," concludes Ann. "He was one of the founding members of the Salt Lake chapter of the Assn for Women Geoscientists. A STEM program like Earth to Sky Calculus is one he would support."

GLOWING 3D PRINTED MOON GLOBE: Looking for an over-the-Moon Valentine's gift? Consider this: On Jan. 4, 2017, the students of Earth to Sky Calculus flew this 3D printed Moon globe to the stratosphere:

The surface of the sphere is an accurate topo-map of lunar terrain, tracing every major crater and mountain range. It is also a night light. A built-in USB-rechargeable battery provides up to 20 hours of romantic illumination.

A helium-filled space weather balloon lifted the globe to the stratosphere, reaching an altitude of 36.3 km (119,095 ft) above California's Sierra Nevada mountains. After the balloon exploded, as planned, the payload parachuted back to Earth. The Moon was still glowing when the student recovery team found it in the wilderness.

You can have one for $149.95. Each glowing orb comes with a greeting card showing the Moon in flight and telling the story of its journey to the edge of space. Sales support the Earth to Sky Calculus cosmic ray ballooning program and hands-on STEM research.

Far Out Gifts: Earth to Sky Store
All proceeds 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 Jan. 15, 2018, the network reported 14 fireballs.
(14 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 January 15, 2018 there were 1872 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Recent & Upcoming Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
Velocity (km/s)
Diameter (m)
2018 AR2
14.8 LD
2018 AP2
18.8 LD
2004 FH
20 LD
2018 AT2
1.8 LD
2017 YU3
18.3 LD
2018 AS2
1.2 LD
2018 AU2
2.7 LD
2018 AM2
12.2 LD
2018 AF1
12.4 LD
14.4 LD
2018 AJ
4.7 LD
2018 AQ2
13.5 LD
2002 CB19
10.5 LD
11 LD
2015 BN509
12.9 LD
1991 VG
18.4 LD
2014 WQ202
15.1 LD
2016 CO246
15.3 LD
2017 DR109
3.7 LD
2016 FU12
13.2 LD
2014 EY24
14.8 LD
2015 BF511
11.7 LD
2003 EM1
16.6 LD
2017 VR12
3.8 LD
2015 DK200
6.9 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

Readers, thank you for your patience while we continue to develop this new section of We've been working to streamline our data reduction, allowing us to post results from balloon flights much more rapidly, and we have developed a new data product, shown here:

This plot displays radiation measurements not only in the stratosphere, but also at aviation altitudes. 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. These measurements are made by our usual cosmic ray payload as it passes through aviation altitudes en route to the stratosphere over California.

What is this all about? 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 13% since 2015:

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.

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.

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.

  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. Only the best social media jobs in the United States
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