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SpaceWeather.com -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
 
Solar wind
speed: 428.9 km/sec
density: 7.5 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2345 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: B4
1948 UT Mar27
24-hr: B4
1638 UT Mar27
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2300 UT
Daily Sun: 27 Mar 16
Neither of these sunspots has the type of unstable magnetic field that poses a threat for strong flares. Solar activity remains low. Credit: SDO/HMI

Sunspot number: 23
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 27 Mar 2016

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 0 days
2016 total: 0 days (0%)
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 27 Mar 2016


The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 86 sfu
explanation | more data
Updated 27 Mar 2016

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: 10.4 nT
Bz: 6.8 nT north
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2348 UT
Coronal Holes: 27 Mar 16

Solar wind flowing from the indicated coronal hole should reach Earth on March 28-29. Credit: SDO/AIA.
Noctilucent Clouds The southern season for noctilucent clouds began on Dec. 13, 2015. It is expected to end in late February or March 2016.
Switch view: Ross Ice Shelf, Antarctic Peninsula, East Antarctica, Polar
Updated at: 02-12-2016 16:55:02
SPACE WEATHER
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2016 Mar 27 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: 2016 Mar 27 2200 UTC
Mid-latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
ACTIVE
30 %
15 %
MINOR
10 %
05 %
SEVERE
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
ACTIVE
15 %
20 %
MINOR
30 %
25 %
SEVERE
40 %
20 %
 
Sunday, Mar. 27, 2016
What's up in space
       
 

Marianne's Heaven On Earth Aurora Chaser Tours Chasethelighttours.co.uk invites you to join them in their quest to find and photograph the Aurora Borealis. Experience the winter wonderland in the Tromsø Area.

 
Chase the Light Tours

SLIGHT CHANCE OF METEORS: A new meteor shower could appear this week. According to theoretical modeling by Mikhail Maslov, Earth will pass through a sparse cloud of meteoroids from Comet 252P/LINEAR on March 28-30. The encounter could cause a minor shower of slow meteors emerging from a radiant near the star μ Leporis, south of the celestial equator. Little is known about meteors from 252P/LINEAR, so estimates of the meteor rate are very uncertain. Maslov's models suggest no more than 5 to 10 per hour.

SOLAR CYCLE CRASHING: Anyone wondering why the sun has been so quiet lately? The reason why is shown in the graph below. The 11-year sunspot cycle is crashing:

For the past two years, the sunspot number has been dropping as the sun transitions from Solar Max to Solar Min. Fewer sunspots means there are fewer solar flares and coronal mass ejections (CMEs). As the explosions subside, we deem the sun "quiet."

But how quiet is it, really? A widely-held misconception is that space weather stalls and becomes uninteresting during periods of low sunspot number. In fact, by turning the solar cycle sideways, we see that Solar Minimum brings many interesting changes. For instance, the upper atmosphere of Earth collapses, allowing space junk to accumulate around our planet. The heliosphere shrinks, bringing interstellar space closer to Earth. And galactic cosmic rays penetrate the inner solar system with relative ease. Indeed, a cosmic ray surge is already underway. (Goodbye sunspots, hello cosmic rays!)

Stay tuned for updates as the sunspot number continues to drop.

Realtime Spaceweather Photo Gallery

CORONAL CANYON SPEWS SOLAR WIND: A gaseous canyon has opened up in the sun's atmosphere, and it is spewing solar wind toward Earth. NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory is monitoring the structure, shown here in an extreme ultraviolet image taken on March 25th:

This is a canyon-shaped example of a coronal hole--a place in the sun's atmosphere where the magnetic field spreads apart and allows solar wind to escape. In the false-color image, above, the coronal hole is colored deep-blue, while the flow of solar wind is indicated by white arrows.

A stream of solar wind flowing from the canyon should reach Earth on March 28-29. There's a good chance its arrival will bring auroras. The reason is, the stream will be preceded by a co-rotating interaction region or "CIR." CIRs are transition zones between slow- and fast-moving solar wind streams. Solar wind plasma piles up in these regions, producing density gradients and shock waves that do a good job of sparking Northern Lights. Aurora alerts: text or voice

Realtime Aurora Photo Gallery

PLANT YOUR OWN SPACE GARDEN: Northern spring has arrived, and that means it's time to plant flowers. Mutant space flowers, that is. These Zinnia seeds flew to the edge of space aboard an Earth to Sky Calculus helium balloon on Feb. 17, 2016:

En route, the seeds were exposed to comic ray doses more than 100x Earth normal, temperatures as low as -63C, and air pressures only 0.3% of sea level.

Zinnias are interesting because they have recently blossomed on the International Space Station. Maybe it's time to plant these space flowers in your garden, too. For $49.95 you can have some. Each order comes with one seed packet flown to the edge of space, and a second seed packet that was kept on Earth as a control sample. Plant them side by side to discover the effect of near-space flight on your flowers. All proceeds support student research.

Speaking of mutants, we have also flown sunflower seeds to the edge of space, where they soaked up cosmic rays for more than 2 hours. What happens when you plant such seeds? Spaceweather.com reader Christian Schwarze bought some and found out. "A second flower grew out of the side of the first one," he says. "Very strange!"

"Unfortunately, we were on holiday while it flowered," says Schwarze.

Readers who wish to repeat these experiments in their own backyard may order sunflowers, zinnias, and many other stratospheric seeds from Earth to Sky Calculus.


Realtime Comet Photo Gallery


Solar 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 Spaceweather.com.

On Mar. 27, 2016, the network reported 5 fireballs.
(5 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 March 27, 2016 there were potentially hazardous asteroids.
Recent & Upcoming Earth-asteroid encounters:
Asteroid
Date(UT)
Miss Distance
Size
2016 FW3
Mar 25
8.4 LD
31 m
2001 XD
Mar 28
64.5 LD
1.0 km
2016 EK156
Mar 29
14 LD
49 m
2016 BC14
Mar 29
9.8 LD
270 m
2002 AJ29
Apr 6
55.2 LD
1.5 km
2002 EB3
Apr 8
55.6 LD
1.2 km
2009 KJ
Apr 10
37.7 LD
1.6 km
2005 GR33
Apr 13
7.7 LD
175 m
2008 HU4
Apr 16
4.9 LD
10 m
2016 FY3
Apr 25
6.3 LD
315 m
2001 VG5
Apr 28
52.4 LD
1.8 km
2014 US115
May 1
9.4 LD
52 m
2008 TZ3
May 5
13.1 LD
355 m
2014 JG55
May 8
7.6 LD
7 m
2009 DL46
May 24
6.2 LD
205 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.
  Cosmic Rays in the Atmosphere
Situation Report -- Oct. 30, 2015 Stratospheric Radiation (+37o N)
Cosmic ray levels are elevated (+6.1% above the Space Age median). The trend is flat. Cosmic ray levels have increased +0% in the past month.
Sept. 06: 4.14 uSv/hr (414 uRad/hr)
Sept. 12: 4.09 uSv/hr (409 uRad/hr)
Sept. 23: 4.12 uSv/hr (412 uRad/hr)
Sept. 25: 4.16 uSv/hr (416 uRad/hr)
Sept. 27: 4.13 uSv/hr (413 uRad/hr)
Oct. 11: 4.02 uSv/hr (402 uRad/hr)
Oct. 22: 4.11 uSv/hr (411 uRad/hr)
These measurements are based on regular space weather balloon flights: learn more.

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. Our measurements show that someone flying back and forth across the continental USA, just once, can absorb as much ionizing radiation as 2 to 5 dental X-rays. For example, here is the data from a flight on Oct. 22, 2015:

Radiation levels peak at the entrance to the stratosphere in a broad region called the "Pfotzer Maximum." This peak is named after physicist George Pfotzer who discovered it using balloons and Geiger tubes in the 1930s. Radiation levels there are more than 80x sea level.

Note that the bottom of the Pfotzer Maximim is near 55,000 ft. This means that some high-flying aircraft are not far from the zone of maximum radiation. Indeed, according to the Oct 22th measurements, a plane flying at 45,000 feet is exposed to 2.79 uSv/hr. At that rate, a passenger would absorb about one dental X-ray's worth of radiation in about 5 hours.

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.

  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
Heliophysics
  the underlying science of space weather
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