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SpaceWeather.com -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
 
Solar wind
speed: 456.8 km/sec
density: 13.5 protons/cm3
more data: ACE, DSCOVR
Updated: Today at 2351 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A9
1929 UT May16
24-hr: B1
0456 UT May16
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2300 UT
Daily Sun: 16 May 19
Sunspot AR2741 poses a continued threat for minor C-class solar flares. Credit: SDO/HMI

Sunspot number: 13
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 16 May 2019

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 0 days
2019 total: 74 days (55%)
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 16 May 2019


Thermosphere Climate Index
today: 4.50
x1010 W Cold
Max: 49.4
x1010 W Hot (10/1957)
Min: 2.05
x1010 W Cold (02/2009)
explanation | more data
Updated 16 May 2019

The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 74 sfu
explanation | more data
Updated 16 May 2019

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
quiet
explanation | more data
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 5.9 nT
Bz: 5.4 nT north
more data: ACE, DSCOVR
Updated: Today at 2350 UT
Coronal Holes: 16 May 19


Solar wind flowing from these coronal holes should reach Earth on May 20-21.
Credit: SDO/AIA

Noctilucent Clouds The northern season for noctilicent clouds is little more than a month away. The electric-blue clouds circling the north pole should return in mid- to late May. .
Switch view: Europe, USA, Asia, Polar
Updated at: 05-16-2019 19:55:02
SPACE WEATHER
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2019 May 16 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 May 16 2200 UTC
Mid-latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
ACTIVE
30 %
25 %
MINOR
30 %
05 %
SEVERE
15 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
ACTIVE
05 %
20 %
MINOR
20 %
30 %
SEVERE
70 %
25 %
 
Thursday, May. 16, 2019
What's up in space
       
 

Solar minimum is here - but even now strangely beautiful auroras are dancing around the poles. Deep inside the Arctic Circle, the expert guides of Aurora Holidays in Utsjoki, Finland, can help you chase them. Book now!

 

WAITING FOR THE SOLAR STORM: NOAA forecasters say there is a 75% chance of geomagnetic storms on May 16th when a CME is expected to hit Earth's magnetic field. The impact could cause storms ranging in strength from category G1 (minor) to G2 (moderate) with auroras in northern-tier US states such as Maine, Minnesota, the Dakotas, Montana and Washington State. Aurora Alerts: SMS Text.

THE REMAINS OF OLD SUNSPOT AR2740: Around the world, today, amateur astronomers are reporting tall plumes of gas rising over the sun's northwestern limb. The source of the activity appears to be old sunspot AR2740. Here is the view from NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory:

The prominence rises almost 50,000 km above the edge of the sun. That means it is 4 times as tall as Earth. These dimensions make it an easy target for backyard solar telescopes. Astronomers are encouraged to monitor the area for developments. While sunspot AR2740 is about to disappear, an even bigger sunspot AR2741 is approaching the same spot for an even more flamboyant display.

Free: Spaceweather.com Newsletter

THE GOLDEN HANDLE: The Moon will be full in just under 4 days. That means it's time to look for the "Golden Handle." Peter Lowenstein caught it on Wednesday morning, May 15th, as the Moon was setting over Mutare, Zimbabwe:

"The waxing gibbous Moon was sinking behind the summit of Murahwa Mountain when I took this picture," says Lowenstein. "I could clearly see the Golden Handle."

The Golden Handle appears once a month when the sun rises over the Moon's Bay of Rainbows (Sinus Iridum). Sunbeams cutting almost horizontally across the bay's hardened lava plains clip the top of the surrounding Jura Mountains (Montes Jura) forming a golden-crested "handle."

Did you miss the handle? It'll be back next month before the full Moon of June. On your calendar circle June 12th and label it "Golden Handle."

Realtime Space Weather Photo Gallery

CRYSTAL MOON BALL IN THE STRATOSPHERE: On Star Wars Day ("May the 4th be with you"), the students of Earth to Sky Calculus launched an array of cosmic ray sensors to the stratosphere. They do this every week or so to monitor increasing levels of atmospheric radiation. This crystal Moon ball went along for the ride:

You can have it for $129.95. The students are selling these far-out balls to support their cosmic ray ballooning program.

Each one comes with an LED base that turns the laser-etched crystaline Moon a beautiful shade of purple, blue, green or yellow. It makes a great night light. Also included is a greeting card showing the crystal ball in flight and telling the story of its journey to the edge of space 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 Spaceweather.com.

On May. 16, 2019, the network reported 8 fireballs.
(8 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 May 16, 2019 there were 1983 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Recent & Upcoming Earth-asteroid encounters:
Asteroid
Date(UT)
Miss Distance
Velocity (km/s)
Diameter (m)
2019 JV2
2019-May-11
18.1 LD
16.2
92
2019 JL
2019-May-12
14.3 LD
9.2
21
2018 VX8
2019-May-12
6.2 LD
15.5
118
2019 JO2
2019-May-12
3.7 LD
10.8
26
2019 JM3
2019-May-12
10.8 LD
20.3
36
2019 JR5
2019-May-13
11.1 LD
25
41
2019 JK3
2019-May-13
3.2 LD
10.7
16
2019 JW5
2019-May-13
2.3 LD
11.5
12
2019 JO3
2019-May-14
18.5 LD
10.8
47
2019 JN2
2019-May-15
7.1 LD
6.8
26
2019 JN5
2019-May-16
4.4 LD
13.1
28
2019 JH7
2019-May-16
0.2 LD
9.6
4
2019 JG1
2019-May-17
5.6 LD
8.1
17
2012 KT12
2019-May-17
4.2 LD
4
20
2019 GT1
2019-May-17
6.1 LD
3.9
36
2019 JR1
2019-May-18
16.2 LD
10
44
2019 JB1
2019-May-20
16.8 LD
26
233
2019 JL3
2019-May-20
2.5 LD
8.8
37
2019 JF7
2019-May-24
14.7 LD
10.9
37
2015 KQ18
2019-May-25
10.7 LD
13.1
30
66391
2019-May-25
13.5 LD
21.5
1780
2003 LH
2019-May-28
15.6 LD
7.4
32
2011 HP
2019-May-30
12.3 LD
8.4
135
2019 JX2
2019-Jun-06
13.8 LD
7
44
2014 MF18
2019-Jun-06
8.8 LD
3
22
441987
2019-Jun-24
7.7 LD
12.6
178
2008 KV2
2019-Jun-27
17.8 LD
11.4
195
2016 NN15
2019-Jun-28
9.6 LD
8.4
16
2015 XC352
2019-Jul-01
11.9 LD
4.1
26
2016 OF
2019-Jul-07
12.8 LD
8.5
85
2016 NO56
2019-Jul-07
3.4 LD
12.2
26
2016 NJ33
2019-Jul-12
15 LD
4.5
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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