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SpaceWeather.com -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
 
Solar wind
speed: 359.1 km/sec
density: 3.0 protons/cm3
more data: ACE, DSCOVR
Updated: Today at 2352 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A7
2002 UT May21
24-hr: A8
0537 UT May21
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2300 UT
Daily Sun: 21 May 19
The sun is blank--no sunspots. Credit: SDO/HMI

Sunspot number: 0
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 21 May 2019

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 2 days
2019 total: 76 days (54%)
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 21 May 2019


Thermosphere Climate Index
today: 4.43
x1010 W Cold
Max: 49.4
x1010 W Hot (10/1957)
Min: 2.05
x1010 W Cold (02/2009)
explanation | more data
Updated 18 May 2019

The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux:69 sfu
explanation | more data
Updated 21 May 2019

Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
Credit: NOAA/Ovation
Planetary K-index
Now: Kp= 0 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 2
quiet
explanation | more data
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 4.4 nT
Bz: 0.7 nT north
more data: ACE, DSCOVR
Updated: Today at 2350 UT
Coronal Holes: 21 May 19


A weak stream of solar wind flowing from these coronal holes should reach Earth on May 22nd or 23rd.
Credit: SDO/AIA

Noctilucent Clouds The northern season for noctilicent clouds about to begin! Monitor the daily iimages from NASA's AIM spacecraft for the first signs of electric-blue around the North Pole..
Switch view: Europe, USA, Asia, Polar
Updated at: 05-21-2019 21:55:03
SPACE WEATHER
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2019 May 21 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 21 2200 UTC
Mid-latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
ACTIVE
25 %
10 %
MINOR
05 %
01 %
SEVERE
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
ACTIVE
20 %
15 %
MINOR
30 %
20 %
SEVERE
25 %
15 %
 
Tuesday, May. 21, 2019
What's up in space
       
 

Special Offer: SAVE 600nok per person. Book a combination aurora borealis chase and scenic day tour during the months of September, October or November 2019 for the special price of 1800 kr. Check Marianne's webpage for details!

 

GEOMAGNETIC UNREST POSSIBLE THIS WEEK: Solar wind flowing from a weakly-organized hole in the sun's atmosphere is expected to buffet Earth's magnetic field this week. This will cause geomagnetic unrest (but probably not geomagnetic storms) on May 21st through 23rd. Photographic auroras mixed with moonlight are possible at high latitudes. Aurora Alerts: SMS Text.

IS THE GREAT RED SPOT UNRAVELING? Around the world, amateur astronomers are monitoring a strange phenomenon on the verge of Jupiter's Great Red Spot (GRS). The giant storm appears to be unraveling. "I haven't seen this before in my 17-or-so years of imaging Jupiter," reports veteran observer Anthony Wesley of Australia, who photographed a streamer of gas detaching itself from the GRS on May 19th:

The plume of gas is enormous, stretching more than 10,000 km from the central storm to a nearby jet stream that appears to be carrying it away. Wesley says that currently such a streamer is peeling off every week or so.

The Great Red Spot is the biggest storm in the solar system–an anticyclone wider than Earth with winds blowing 350 mph. Astronomers have been observing it for hundreds of years. In recent decades, the Great Red Spot has been shrinking. Once it was wide enough to swallow three Earths; now only one of our planet could fit inside the maelstrom. This has led some researchers to wonder if the GRS could break up or disappear within our lifetimes. Perhaps the streamers are part of this process.

In fact, such unraveling clouds have been seen before. For instance, the Gemini North adaptive optics telescope on Maunakea saw a lesser but similar streamer in May of 2017:

"Events like this show that there's still much to learn about Jupiter's atmosphere," said Glenn Orton of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in a press release about he 2017 streamer.

Wesley describes how the streamers are behaving now: "Each streamer appears to disconnect from the Great Red Spot and dissipate. Then, after about a week, a new streamer forms and the process repeats. You have to be lucky to catch it happening. Jupiter spins on its axis every 10 hours and the GRS is not always visible. A joint effort between many amateurs is underway to get clear images of the process."

Now is a great time to monitor the action. Jupiter is approaching Earth for a close encounter in June 2019. In the weeks ahead, Jupiter will shine 4 times brighter than Sirius, the brightest star in the sky, and even small telescopes will reveal its storms, moons, and cloud belts. You can find Jupiter in the constellation Ophiuchus in the southern sky at midnight: sky map.

A sharable version of this story is available here.

Realtime Space Weather Photo Gallery

FATHER'S DAY FISHING LURE: Father's Day is less than 3 weeks away. Just in time for giftgiving, we present the first fishing lure in space. This unique hook, inscribed with the message "I love you more than you love fishing," hitched a ride onboard an Earth to Sky Calculus cosmic ray balloon on May 17, 2019, reaching an altitude of 117,454 feet:

You can have it for $119.95. The students are selling these lures to support their cosmic ray ballooning program--an increasing necessity because of the worldwide helium shortage. Balloon flights are becoming expensive!

Each hook comes with a greeting card showing the item in flight and telling the story of its journey to the edge of space and back.

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


Realtime Aurora Photo Gallery


Free: Spaceweather.com Newsletter

  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. 21, 2019, the network reported 15 fireballs.
(14 sporadics, 1 eta Aquariid)

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 21, 2019 there were 1983 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Recent & Upcoming Earth-asteroid encounters:
Asteroid
Date(UT)
Miss Distance
Velocity (km/s)
Diameter (m)
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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