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SpaceWeather.com -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
 
Solar wind
speed: 581.0 km/sec
density: 8.6 protons/cm3
more data: ACE, DSCOVR
Updated: Today at 2347 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A0
1852 UT Feb28
24-hr: A0
1409 UT Feb28
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2300 UT
Daily Sun: 28 Feb 19
The sun is blank--no sunspots. Credit: SDO/HMI

Sunspot number: 0
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 28 Feb 2019

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 28 days
2019 total: 43 days (73%)
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 28 Feb 2019


Thermosphere Climate Index
today: 3.82
x1010 W Cold
Max: 49.4
x1010 W Hot (10/1957)
Min: 2.05
x1010 W Cold (02/2009)
explanation | more data
Updated 28 Feb 2019

The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 71 sfu
explanation | more data
Updated 28 Feb 2019

Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
Credit: NOAA/Ovation
Planetary K-index
Now: Kp= 4 unsettled
24-hr max: Kp= 5
storm
explanation | more data
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 6.2 nT
Bz: -5.3 nT south
more data: ACE, DSCOVR
Updated: Today at 2346 UT
Coronal Holes: 28 Feb 19


Earth is inside a stream of solar wind flowing from this wide coronal hole.
. Credit: SDO/AIA

Noctilucent Clouds The southern season for noctilucent clouds (NLCs) is ending. NASA's AIM spacecraft is detecting a sharp decline in electric blue clouds at the edge of space over Antarctica.
Switch view: Europe, USA, Asia, Polar
Updated at: 02-27-2019 13:55:03
SPACE WEATHER
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2019 Feb 28 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 Feb 28 2200 UTC
Mid-latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
ACTIVE
40 %
35 %
MINOR
25 %
15 %
SEVERE
05 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
ACTIVE
10 %
15 %
MINOR
30 %
30 %
SEVERE
50 %
40 %
 
Thursday, Feb. 28, 2019
What's up in space
       
 

Lights Over Lapland has a brand-new website full of exciting adventures in Abisko National Park, Sweden! Take a look at our aurora activities and book your once-in-a-lifetime trip with us today!

 

SOLAR WIND STORM IN PROGRESS: The solar wind around Earth is now blowing faster than 550 km/s (1.2 million mph) as our planet enters a stream of plasma flowing from a wide hole in the sun's atmosphere. First contact with the stream on Feb. 28th sparked these auroras over Fairbanks, Alaska:

"It was a fantastic show with lots of curtains, different shapes and movement across the sky," reports photographer Sacha Layos.

The action of the solar wind is producing intermittent G1-class geomagnetic storms--a situation NOAA forecasters say could continue through March 1st while Earth remains inside the unusually wide stream. Auroras are possible not only around the Arctic Circle, but also with lesser brightness in northern-tier US states along a line from Maine to Washington. Aurora Alerts: SMS text, email.

By definition, geomagnetic storms cause our planet's magnetic field to shake and vibrate. Stuart Green is recording the action using a magnetometer in Preston, Lancashire, UK:

The squiggles in his chart represent changes in the local magnetic field caused by the buffeting of solar wind high overhead.

"These background rumblings are easily detectable on magnetometers around the world, including my own here in the UK," says Green."The sensor is buried in my garden about 0.5 meters below the surface. This allows very sensitive (sub nanotesla) measurements of magnetic declination during geomagnetic storms."

Realtime Aurora Photo Gallery

LOOKING FOR A FAR-OUT GIFT? Every time the students of Earth to Sky Calculus launch cosmic ray sensors to the stratosphere, they send a little something extra along for the ride. For example, this full Moon pendant:

You can have it for $119.95. The students are selling these spherical glass pendants as a fund-raiser for their cosmic ray monitoring program. They make great anniversary, birthday and Mother's Day gifts. Each pendant comes with a greeting card showing the jewelry in flight and telling the story of its journey to the stratosphere and back again.

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

 

MYSTERY ON ICE: Last February, Mika-Pekka Markkanen went ice skating. "I came across this fantastic opportunity to skate on the natural untouched ice of a pond by the sea, surrounded by mountains on the Arctic island of Senja, Norway," says Markkanen. He stepped on the ice and witnessed a mystery that has stumped experts for more than a year.


"I noticed these strange colors near the sun's bright reflection on the ice," says Markkanen. "Luckily I had my camera and tripod so I managed to capture some nice photos of the phenomenon."

What caused the rainbow-like colors? Markkanen looked for help, contacting many experts in the field of color and atmospheric optics. "Nobody seemed to have clear answer. No one, not even Les Cowley, had ever even seen such a thing before!"

Finally, Dietrich Zawischa, a retired professor from the Institute of Theoretical Physics of Hannover University, may have found an answer. Using computer simulations, he modeled the colorful arcs as an interference pattern created by fine grains on the surface of the ice.


Above: Zawischa's model of the interference phenomenon. [full story]

"Such beautiful natural ice is very rare, and I guess that this optical effect is so uncommon that it has not yet been named," says Zawischa. "The grainy surface texture of the ice appears to be responsible for the colors. The texture might be due to snow falling just when the water was going to freeze while the weather was very calm. Presumably, rays of sunlight reflected by neighboring grains interfere."

"Although I was not able to reach full agreement between the photo and the simulation," says Zawischa, "I think we have captured the essential physics of the phenomenon."


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 Spaceweather.com.

On Feb. 27, 2019, the network reported 7 fireballs.
(7 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 February 28, 2019 there were 1967 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Recent & Upcoming Earth-asteroid encounters:
Asteroid
Date(UT)
Miss Distance
Velocity (km/s)
Diameter (m)
2016 CO246
2019-Feb-22
15.8 LD
5.5
23
2019 CK5
2019-Feb-23
13.4 LD
8.9
20
2019 BF1
2019-Feb-24
11.2 LD
9.1
119
2019 CK1
2019-Feb-24
16.5 LD
10.2
32
2019 DB
2019-Feb-24
2.6 LD
6.7
21
2019 CJ
2019-Feb-25
7.4 LD
4.8
30
2019 CF4
2019-Feb-26
15.6 LD
3.7
14
2019 DE
2019-Feb-27
17.7 LD
7.2
22
2018 DE1
2019-Feb-27
19.8 LD
6.5
28
2016 FU12
2019-Feb-27
15.4 LD
5.2
15
2019 DD
2019-Mar-01
7.5 LD
10.4
14
2019 CT4
2019-Mar-02
6 LD
12.1
49
2019 CX4
2019-Mar-04
18.4 LD
6.9
30
2019 CW
2019-Mar-04
19.2 LD
11.6
61
2015 EG
2019-Mar-04
1.2 LD
9.6
26
2019 DC
2019-Mar-05
10.9 LD
9.2
20
2012 DF31
2019-Mar-09
9.1 LD
15.3
47
2019 CM4
2019-Mar-11
13.8 LD
12.1
91
2013 EG68
2019-Mar-13
19.3 LD
17
37
2012 VZ19
2019-Mar-13
7.7 LD
8
27
2019 CL2
2019-Mar-18
10.2 LD
7.5
72
2019 CD5
2019-Mar-20
10.2 LD
17
135
2016 GE1
2019-Apr-04
3.9 LD
10.1
17
2014 UR
2019-Apr-09
13 LD
4.6
17
2016 GW221
2019-Apr-09
10.1 LD
5.3
39
2012 XO134
2019-Apr-18
14.8 LD
11
56
522684
2019-Apr-19
19 LD
11.5
214
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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