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Solar wind
speed: 500.3 km/sec
density: 0.9 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2347 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: M5
1748 UT Nov16
24-hr: M5
1748 UT Nov16
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2300 UT
Daily Sun: 16 Nov 14
Returning sunspot AR2192, re-numbered AR2209 for its second trip around the sun, has a 'beta-gamma-delta' magnetic field that harbors energy for X-class solar flares. Credit: SDO/HMI
Sunspot number: 100
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 16 Nov 2014

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 0 days
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%)

Update 16 Nov

The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 161 sfu
explanation | more data
Updated 16 Nov 2014

Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
Credit: NOAA/Ovation
Planetary K-index
Now: Kp= 3 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 4
explanation | more data
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 5.7 nT
Bz: 2.2 nT south
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2347 UT
Coronal Holes: 16 Nov 14
Solar wind flowing from the indicated coronal holes should reach Earth as early as Nov. 17-18. Credit: SDO/AIA. posts daily satellite images of noctilucent clouds (NLCs), which hover over Earth's poles at the edge of space. The data come from NASA's AIM spacecraft. The north polar "daisy" pictured below is a composite of near-realtime images from AIM assembled by researchers at the University of Colorado's Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (LASP).
Noctilucent Clouds
Switch view: Europe, USA, Asia, Polar
Updated at: 11-16-2014 10:56:04
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2014 Nov 16 2200 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
65 %
65 %
25 %
25 %
Geomagnetic Storms:
Probabilities for significant disturbances in Earth's magnetic field are given for three activity levels: active, minor storm, severe storm
Updated at: 2014 Nov 16 2200 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
35 %
30 %
20 %
10 %
05 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
10 %
15 %
25 %
30 %
50 %
40 %
Sunday, Nov. 16, 2014
What's up in space

Would you like a call when things are happening in the night sky? Sign up for backyard astronomy alerts from voice or text.


CHANCE OF STORMS: NOAA forecasters estimate a 55% chance of polar geomagnetic storms on Nov. 16th when a co-rotating interaction region (CIR) is expected to hit Earth's magnetic field. CIRs are transition zones between fast and slow solar wind streams. Solar wind plasma piles up in these regions, producing density gradients and shock waves that do a good job of sparking auroras. Aurora alerts: text, voice

RADS ON A PLANE--THE RETURN FLIGHT: Regular readers of have been following the travels of Tony Phillips, who spent the past week flying commercial jets back and forth across the USA for meetings in Washington DC. In addition to his usual baggage, he carried a pair of radiation sensors onboard. Sitting in the economy section of a US Airways flight from Reno to Phoenix on Nov. 11th, Phillips recorded dose rates which were almost 30 times higher than background dose rates at ground level. On Nov. 15th, he gathered data from a return leg, American Airlines flight 2407 from Washington DC to Chicago. It was only half as bad:

The radiation inside these planes comes from space--that is, cosmic rays that penetrate Earth's atmosphere and reach down to aviation altitudes. In the plot we can see what a difference altitude makes: Cruising at 39,000 feet, the Reno to Phoenix flight was closer to space and thus experienced double the radiation of the DC to Chicago flight cruising at 28,000 feet.

The radiation sensor Phillips used to make these measurements is the same one that Earth to Sky Calculus routinely flies onboard helium balloons to measure cosmic rays in the stratosphere. It detects X-rays and gamma-rays in the energy range 10 keV to 20 MeV, similar to energies used by medical X-ray machines and airport security scanners.

We can put these doses into context by comparing them to medical X-rays. In a single hour flying between Reno and Phoenix on Nov. 11th, the passengers were exposed to about the same amount of radiation as an X-ray at the dentist's office. Such a dose is not a big deal for an occasional flier, but as NASA points out, frequent fliers of 100,000 miles or more can accumulate doses equal to 20 chest X-rays or about 100 dental X-rays. Lead aprons, anyone?

Some experts reading these reports on have pointed out that X-rays and gamma-rays represent only a fraction of the radiation present at aviation altitudes. The true dose could be doubled or tripled by neutrons, a component of cosmic rays known to be especially good at delivering energy to human tissue.

Realtime Space Weather Photo Gallery

OLD SUNSPOT CRACKLES WITH FLARES: Apparently, you can't keep a good sunspot down. AR2192, the aging sunspot famous for producing six X-flares in late October, is growing again and poses a renewed threat for strong eruptions. In the past 24 hours, the active region has produced a series of increasingly intense M-class flares, culminating in this M5-flare recorded by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory:

The impulsive blast, which peaked on Nov. 16th at 1748 UT, caused an HF radio blackout on the daylit side of Earth that lasted some 10s of minutes. Such blackouts are typically noticed by ham radio operators, mariners at sea, and aviators flying polar routes.

More potent flares could be in the offing. AR2192 has a 'beta-gamma-delta' magnetic field that harbors energy for X-class explosions 10 times stronger than the M-flares we are seeing now. NOAA forecasters estimate a 30% chance that the sunspot will unleash an X-flare in the next 24 hours. Solar flare alerts: text, voice

Sunspot names: AR2192 is making its second trip around the sun. According to tradition, it has been renumbered for its second appparition: AR2209. Renumbering sunspots is a holdover from previous centuries when only one side of the sun was visible. Astronomers watching a new sunspot rotate over the sun's eastern limb couldn't be sure if it was a totally new sunspot, or an old sunspot returning from a farside transit; so they numbered every sunspot as if it were new. Fast-forward to 2014: NASA's heliophysics fleet can track sunspots around the entire circumference of the sun. We know this sunspot is old AR2192, but it gets a new number anyway.

Realtime Aurora Photo Gallery

Realtime Comet Photo Gallery

Realtime Eclipse 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. 16, 2014, the network reported 16 fireballs.
(10 sporadics, 3 Leonids, 2 November omega Orionids, 1 Northern Taurid)

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 16, 2014 there were potentially hazardous asteroids.
Recent & Upcoming Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
2004 JN13
Nov 18
52.4 LD
4.1 km
1998 SS49
Nov 18
73.9 LD
3.1 km
2005 UH3
Nov 22
44.4 LD
1.3 km
2007 EJ
Jan 12
68.9 LD
1.1 km
1991 VE
Jan 17
40.6 LD
1.0 km
2004 BL86
Jan 26
3.1 LD
650 m
2008 CQ
Jan 31
4.8 LD
36 m
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.
  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
  the underlying science of space weather
Space Weather Alerts
  more links...
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