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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Solar wind
speed: 481.2 km/sec
density: 5.0 protons/cm3
more data: ACE, DSCOVR
Updated: Today at 2349 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: B1
1857 UT Nov16
24-hr: B3
1306 UT Nov16
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2300 UT
Daily Sun: 16 Nov 17
Sunspot AR2687 has a stable magnetic field that poses no threat for strong solar flres. Credit: SDO/HMI

Sunspot number: 14
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 16 Nov 2017

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 0 days
2017 total: 81 days (25%)
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%)

Updated 16 Nov 2017

The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 74 sfu
explanation | more data
Updated 16 Nov 2017

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
explanation | more data
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 2.8 nT
Bz: 0.4 nT north
more data: ACE, DSCOVR
Updated: Today at 2349 UT
Coronal Holes: 16 Nov 17

A stream of solar wind flowing from this southern coronal hole should reach Earth on Nov. 17-18. Credit: SDO/AIA
Noctilucent Clouds Latest images from NASA's AIM spacecraft show that the 2017 northern summer season for noctilucent clouds has finished.
Switch view: Europe, USA, Asia, Polar
Updated at: 09-03-2017 01:55:03
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2017 Nov 16 2200 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
01 %
01 %
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: 2017 Nov 16 2200 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
35 %
20 %
15 %
05 %
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
20 %
20 %
25 %
20 %
30 %
15 %
Thursday, Nov. 16, 2017
What's up in space

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GEOMAGNETIC UNREST EXPECTED: A hole in the sun's atmosphere is spewing solar wind toward Earth. Compared to other streams of solar wind that have recently buffeted our planet's magnetic field, this one appears to be minor. Nevertheless, NOAA forecasters say geomagnetic unrest is possible when the gaseous material arrives on Nov. 17-18. Arctic auroras are likely in the nights ahead. Free: Aurora Alerts.

THE STRANGE FATE OF THE MEXICAN SPACE CORN: On Nov. 10th, and Earth to Sky Calculus joined forces with students and professors from the Universidad Autonoma del Estado de México for the first-ever space weather balloon flight over Mexico. An ear of local red corn went along for the ride. This delicious astrobiology experiment aimed to compare the growth rate and morphology of corn exposed to cosmic rays to that of corn left behind on Earth. The corn traveled to the stratosphere, absorbed a dose of cosmic rays 200x greater than on the ground below, and parachuted back to Earth.

Then something strange happened.

When the recovery team found the payload in the Mexican backcountry, the corn was gone! Footage from the payload's video camera revealed its fate. Shortly after the corn landed, a group of Mexican cowboys drove a herd of cattle and horses right by the payload. The horses were delighted to find the corn. But before they could eat it, a ranch dog darted in and grabbed the corn for himself.

Without knowing any of this, the recovery team, which reached the payload after dark, immediately suspected animal involvement in the kidnapping of the corn. Piles of horse poop near the payload were a pungent clue. So they scoured the grass around the payload and, amazingly, found dozens of kernels that had not been swallowed by the hasty culprit. The astrobiology experiment was saved!

Bonus: The balloon over Mexico carried more than corn. It also lofted an array of X-ray, gamma-ray, and neutron sensors to measure cosmic rays in the atmosphere. In the next few days we will share the results of that experiment, showing how atmospheric radiation over Mexico compares to that of the USA.

Realtime Space Weather Photo Gallery

DOUBLE MOONBOW AND AURORAS: Seeing a rainbow at night: rare. Seeing a double rainbow at night: ridiculously rare. Seeing a double rainbow at night alongside the aurora borealis: "I couldn't believe my eyes," says Giuseppe Petricca who photographed the phenomenon on Nov. 7th from Stornoway, Eilean Siar, Scotland:

"Surely, this is a display that will remain in my memory forever," says Petricca. "Between fast moving rainclouds a gap formed, which lasted no more than two or three minutes. Beams of light from the full Moon lanced through the gap. The combination of falling raindrops and moonlight formed a lovely rainbow."

At the same time, a geomagnetic storm was underway. Parting clouds revealed a bright band of green auroras overhead, completing the unlikely scene.

Lunar rainbows are also called "moonbows." What made this moonbow a double?  Moonlight reflecting once inside raindrops made the primary 'bow.  A second reflection produced the double arc. 

"I could continue on and on to describe this view, but I think that the picture does it way better," says says Petricca. "An unforgettable emotion!"

Realtime Aurora Photo Gallery

THIS CHRISTMAS ORNAMENT HAS TOUCHED SPACE: On Nov. 2, 2017, the students of Earth to Sky Calculus launched a space weather balloon to the stratosphere. These kids do science, and the payload of their balloon carried an array of cosmic ray sensors to measure radiation coming from deep space. Oh, and one more thing…. BB-8:

During the 2.5 hour flight, the plucky robot experienced temperatures as low as -67 C and cosmic ray dose rates 100x Earth-normal. After the balloon exploded 107,342 feet above the Sierra Nevada mountains of central California, BB-8 parachuted back to Earth, landing in the desert near Silver Peak, Nevada.

You can have BB-8 for $79.95. Each ornament comes with a unique gift card showing BB-8 floating at the top of Earth's atmosphere. The interior of the card tells the story of the flight. It also comes with a bonus photo of BB-8 in the stratosphere. Hang it on your Christmas tree alongside BB-8 to impress holiday visitors!

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

  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, 2017, the network reported 40 fireballs.
(23 sporadics, 11 Leonids, 4 Northern Taurids, 1 omicron Eridanid, 1 alpha Monocerotid)

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, 2017 there were 1853 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Recent & Upcoming Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
Velocity (km/s)
Diameter (m)
2017 VH13
15.1 LD
2017 VC
9.9 LD
2017 VZ1
8.7 LD
2017 VE13
19.8 LD
2017 VE2
7.2 LD
2017 VM13
17.6 LD
2017 VB13
11.2 LD
2017 VV12
1.9 LD
2017 VM2
17.9 LD
2017 VN13
3 LD
8.7 LD
2017 VN2
6.2 LD
2017 VD13
13.1 LD
2008 WM61
3.8 LD
2015 XX169
9.7 LD
2011 YD29
17.6 LD
2006 XY
6.5 LD
2017 TS3
18.1 LD
15.3 LD
2015 YQ1
17.3 LD
2017 QL33
13.3 LD
2015 RT1
19.7 LD
2004 FH
20 LD
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

Readers, thank you for your patience while we continue to develop this new section of We've been working to streamline our data reduction, allowing us to post results from balloon flights much more rapidly, and we have developed a new data product, shown here:

This plot displays radiation measurements not only in the stratosphere, but also at aviation altitudes. 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. These measurements are made by our usual cosmic ray payload as it passes through aviation altitudes en route to the stratosphere over California.

What is this all about? Approximately once a week, 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 13% since 2015:

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.

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.

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.

  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
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
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