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SpaceWeather.com -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
 
Solar wind
speed: 352.9 km/sec
density: 7.4 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2352 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: C6
1721 UT Feb12
24-hr: M1
1047 UT Feb12
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2300 UT
Daily Sun: 12 Feb 16
AR2497 has a 'beta-gamma' magnetic field that harbors energy for M-class solar flares. Credit: SDO/HMI

Sunspot number: 68
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 12 Feb 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 12 Feb 2016


The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 113 sfu
explanation | more data
Updated 12 Feb 2016

Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
Credit: NOAA/Ovation
Planetary K-index
Now: Kp= 2 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 4
unsettled
explanation | more data
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 17.4 nT
Bz: 17.3 nT north
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2352 UT
Coronal Holes: 11 Feb 16

Solar wind flowing from this southern coronal hole could reach Earth on Feb. 16-17. Credit: SDO/AIA.
Noctilucent Clouds The southern season for noctilucent clouds began on Dec. 13, 2015. It is expected to end in late February 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 Feb 12 2200 UTC
FLARE
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
CLASS M
35 %
35 %
CLASS X
05 %
05 %
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 Feb 12 2200 UTC
Mid-latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
ACTIVE
15 %
35 %
MINOR
05 %
15 %
SEVERE
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
ACTIVE
20 %
15 %
MINOR
25 %
30 %
SEVERE
25 %
50 %
 
Friday, Feb. 12, 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

EARTH-DIRECTED CME: Sunspot AR2497 erupted on Feb. 11th (2103 UT), producing a C9-class solar flare and hurling a coronal mass ejection (CME) in space. Newly-arriving images from SOHO show that the CME does have an Earth-directed component: movie. NOAA analysts say it should reach our planet on Feb. 15th, possibly sparking minor geomagnetic storms. Aurora alerts: text or voice

VALENTINE'S DAY IN THE STRATOSPHERE: Are you still searching for a last-minute Valentine's gift? How about sending yourself and a loved one to the stratosphere? On. Feb 13th, the students of Earth to Sky Calculus plan to launch a space weather balloon to monitor cosmic rays over California. For $500, you can send a Valentine's photo along for the ride. Imagine your picture in front of this background:


Sponsors will receive an HD video of their flight along with still-frame highlights on the evening on Feb 13th--just in time for Valentine's Day. This out-of-this-world gift comes with the satisfaction of contributing to important crowd-funded space weather research. Contact Dr. Tony Phillips to take advantage of this Valentine's Special.

We also plan to launch space weather balloons during and after the expected CME strike of Feb. 15th, to monitor the effect of the solar storm cloud on Earth's cosmic ray environment. Stay tuned!

Realtime Spaceweather Photo Gallery

SPY SATELLITE, LAUNCHED AND SPOTTED: On Feb. 10th, just a few hours before sunrise in California, a Delta 4 rocket blasted off from the Vandenberg AFB carrying a spy satellite for the US National Reconnaissance Office. "It was thrilling to see the launch from the Marin Headlands near San Francisco," reports Kenneth Sperber. "The engine plume outshone the stars, disappearing after about 3 minutes." He stacked a series of 10 second exposures to create this launch tableau:

The rocket's payload (officially designated NROL-45) is believed to be a Topaz radar-imaging satellite. It is a successor to the line of Lacrosse spy satellites, which use synthetic aperture radar (SAR) to map the Earth with a resolution comparable to optical cameras. Unlike optical cameras, however, synthetic aperture radar can penetrate clouds--a big advantage for a spysat.

Approximately, 18 hours after it was launched, NROL-45 was spotted racing among the stars over Leiden, the Netherlands:

"I could not see it with the naked eye (it was too faint even though the sky was very clear)," says photographer Marco Langbroek. "In a few days from now, after the SAR antenna has been unfolded, it will become brighter and visible with the naked eye on a good night."

Langbroek is one of a network of international observers who have sighted NROL-45. Combining their data, they will be able to calculate the satellite's orbit and keep track of it as it circles our planet. (So much for stealth.) More information about this may be found on Langbroek's web site.

Realtime Spaceweather Photo Gallery

SOUTHERN NOCTILUCENT CLOUDS: The 2015-2016 season for noctilucent clouds (NLCs) over the southern hemisphere may soon be coming to a close. NASA's AIM spacecraft is monitoring the clouds, and their electric-blue glow appears to be fading. This plot shows the frequency of occurrence of NLCs over Antarctica for the past nine winters; the current season is color-coded red:

"In past years of CIPS data, the southern hemisphere seasons have ended sometime between 18 February and 23 February," says Cora Randall, a member of the AIM science team from the University of Colorado's Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics. "This means the end of the current season is probably near."

NLCs are Earth's highest clouds. Seeded by meteoroids, they float at the edge of space more than 80 km above the planet's surface. The clouds are very cold and filled with tiny ice crystals. When sunbeams hit those crystals, they glow electric-blue: photo gallery.

Previous research shows that NLCs are a sensitive indicator of long-range teleconnections in Earth's atmosphere, which link weather and climate across hemispheres. The seasonal behavior of noctilucent clouds, and how it changes from year to year, could reveal new linkages, previously unknown.

When will the last wisps of electric blue vanish? You can monitor the action right here on Spaceweather.com.

Realtime Noctilucent Cloud Photo Gallery

Realtime Aurora Photo Gallery



Realtime Comet 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. 12, 2016, the network reported 13 fireballs.
(13 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 12, 2016 there were potentially hazardous asteroids.
Recent & Upcoming Earth-asteroid encounters:
Asteroid
Date(UT)
Miss Distance
Size
2016 BE
Feb 1
5.9 LD
86 m
2016 BA15
Feb 1
2.9 LD
19 m
2015 XA379
Feb 7
8.1 LD
38 m
2016 BQ
Feb 7
11.1 LD
21 m
2014 QD364
Feb 7
14 LD
16 m
2013 VA10
Feb 8
12.5 LD
165 m
2016 BQ15
Feb 8
8.5 LD
44 m
2014 EK24
Feb 14
13.8 LD
94 m
2010 LJ14
Feb 16
68.5 LD
1.2 km
1999 YK5
Feb 19
51.7 LD
2.0 km
2010 WD1
Feb 22
12.3 LD
22 m
1991 CS
Feb 23
65.5 LD
1.4 km
2011 EH17
Mar 1
11.1 LD
52 m
2013 TX68
Mar 5
0.044 LD
30 m
2001 PL9
Mar 9
77.6 LD
1.2 km
2010 FX9
Mar 19
6.9 LD
62 m
252P/LINEAR
Mar 21
13.9 LD
0 m
2016 BA14
Mar 22
9.2 LD
540 m
1993 VA
Mar 23
59.6 LD
1.6 km
2001 XD
Mar 28
64.5 LD
1.0 km
2016 BC14
Mar 29
9.9 LD
280 m
2002 AJ29
Apr 6
55.2 LD
1.5 km
2002 EB3
Apr 8
55.6 LD
1.2 km
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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