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SpaceWeather.com -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
 
Solar wind
speed: 363.1 km/sec
density: 6.7 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2348 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A8
1707 UT Dec05
24-hr: A9
1521 UT Dec05
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2300 UT
Daily Sun: 05 Dec 19
The sun is blank--no sunspots. Credit: SDO/HMI

Sunspot number: 0
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 05 Dec 2019

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 22 days
2019 total: 258 days (76%)
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 05 Dec 2019


Thermosphere Climate Index
today: 3.27
x1010 W Cold
Max: 49.4
x1010 W Hot (10/1957)
Min: 2.05
x1010 W Cold (02/2009)
explanation | more data: gfx, txt
Updated 04 Dec
2019

The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 70 sfu
explanation | more data
Updated 05 Dec 2019

Cosmic Rays Solar minimum is underway. The sun's magnetic field is weak, allowing extra cosmic rays into the solar system. Neutron counts from the University of Oulu's Sodankyla Geophysical Observatory show that cosmic rays reaching Earth in 2019 are near a Space Age peak.

Oulu Neutron Counts

Percentages of the Space Age average:
today: +9.8% High
7-day change: -0.0%
Max: +11.7% Very High
(12/2009)
Min: -32.1% Very Low (06/1991)
explanation | more data
Updated 05 Dec 2019 @ 1800 UT

Since 2015, Earth to Sky cosmic ray balloons launched weekly from California have also detected significant increases in atmospheric radiation. Dose rates reported below are in the stratosphere at approx. 100,000 ft.

California Cosmic Ray Balloons
Monitoring started in March 2015
now: 4.55 uGy/hr High
change since 2015: +18%
Max: 4.79 uGy/hr High
(10/2019)
Min: 3.80 uGy/hr Low (05/2015)
explanation | more data
Updated 01 Dec 2019

Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
Credit: NOAA/Ovation
Planetary K-index
Now: Kp= 1 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 1
quiet
explanation | more data
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 3.6 nT
Bz: 1.4 nT north
more data: ACE, DSCOVR
Updated: Today at 2346 UT
Coronal Holes: 05 Dec 19

Solar wind flowing from this southern coronal hole could graze Earth's magnetic field on Dec. 8th.
Credit: SDO/AIA

Noctilucent Clouds The southern hemisphere season for noctilucent clouds began on Nov. 15th--the earliest start in recorded history. Check here for daily images from NASA's AIM spacecraft.
Switch view: Europe, USA, Asia, Polar
Updated at: 12-04-2019 14:55:03 UTUT
SPACE WEATHER
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2019 Dec 05 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 Dec 05 2200 UTC
Mid-latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
ACTIVE
10 %
10 %
MINOR
01 %
01 %
SEVERE
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
ACTIVE
15 %
15 %
MINOR
15 %
15 %
SEVERE
10 %
10 %
 
Thursday, Dec. 5, 2019
What's up in space
       
 

Marianne’s Arctic tours: Operating in small groups of 7 to 14 persons--all needs supplied for safety, comfort and pleasure. Night & day photography or non-photographic landscape - wildlife tours. Click for details!

 

COMING SOON: THE GEMINID METEOR SHOWER: Earth is approaching a stream of gravelly debris from "rock comet" 3200 Phaethon, source of the annual Geminid meteor shower. Forecasters expect the shower to peak on Dec. 13-14, right on the heels of a glaring full Moon (Dec. 12). Fortunately, Geminids are rich in fireballs and many of them may be seen in spite of lunar interference. Stay tuned for updates as peak-night approaches.

PLANETARY WAVE SUPERCHARGES NOCTILUCENT CLOUDS: An atmospheric wave nearly half as wide as Earth itself is supercharging noctilucent clouds (NLCs) in the southern hemisphere. NASA's AIM spacecraft detected the phenomenon in this series of south polar images spanning Nov. 27th through Dec. 2nd:

“This is a clear sign of planetary wave activity,” says AIM principal investigator James Russell of Hampton University, which manages the Aeronomy of Ice in the Mesosphere mission for NASA.

Planetary waves are enormous ripples of temperature and pressure that form in Earth’s atmosphere in response to Coriolis forces. In this case, a 5-day planetary wave is boosting noctilucent clouds over Antarctica and causing them to spin outward to latitudes where NLCs are rarely seen.

On Dec. 1st, Mirko Harnisch saw the clouds from Dunedin, New Zealand:

"I was enjoying the late-evening sky over the Southern Ocean just after 11 pm local time when these wispy blue-ish noctilucent clouds appeared," says Harnisch. "This a rare sighting for my latitude of 45S."

Indeed, it is very rare. Spaceweather.com has been receiving images of NLCs for more than 20 years. This is the first-ever submission from New Zealand or any other mid-latitude site in the southern hemisphere.

Noctilucent clouds over Antarctica are nothing unusual. They form every year around this time when the first wisps of summertime water vapor rise to the top of Earth’s atmosphere. Molecules of H2O adhere to specks of meteor smoke, forming ice crystals 83 km above Earth’s surface.

But these NLCs are different. They’re unusually strong and congregated in a coherent spinning mass.


Above: Temperature and water vapor data from NASA Microwave Limb Sounder, Nov. 27- Dec. 1, 2019

"The planetary wave is responsible," explains AIM science team member Lynn Harvey of the University of Colorado's Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (LASP). "It is concentrating a mass of cold water vapor in the mesosphere and causing the moisture to pinwheel counterclockwise around the South Pole." Harvey has been tracking the moisture in data from NASA’s Microwave Limb Sounder instruments, shown above.  It matches almost perfectly the location of the NLCs.

Because the noctilucent clouds are spinning around with a 5 day period, they could return to New Zealand 5 days after Harnisch saw them–that is, on Dec. 6th. Such a forecast is very uncertain. Nevertheless, sky watchers who wish to try should look west 30 to 60 minutes after sunset. If you see luminous blue-white tendrils hugging the horizon, you may have spotted a noctilucent cloud.

A sharable version of this story is available here.

Realtime Spaceweather Photo Gallery
Free:
Spaceweather.com Newsletter

THE SHOOTING STAR SPACE PENDANT: It's simple. It's elegant. And it's been to the edge of space. On Sept. 27th, the students of Earth to Sky Calculus launched a cosmic ray balloon to the stratosphere. This stainless steel "shooting star" pendant hitched a ride, all the way to 108,245 feet:

You can have it for $119.95. The students are selling shooting star pendants to support their cosmic ray ballooning program. Each one comes with greeting card showing the item in flight and telling the story of its journey to the edge of space and back again. These make great birthday and Christmas gifts.

Bonus: The star contains a hidden chamber, which you may fill with the ashes of a loved one or anything else you wish to keep close to your heart.

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 Dec. 05, 2019, the network reported 24 fireballs.
(15 sporadics, 5 sigma Hydrids, 2 Nov. omega Orionids, 1 Geminid, 1 Puppid-Velid)

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 December 5, 2019 there were 2018 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Recent & Upcoming Earth-asteroid encounters:
Asteroid
Date(UT)
Miss Distance
Velocity (km/s)
Diameter (m)
2019 XM
2019-Nov-30
5.2 LD
12.3
9
2019 WQ3
2019-Nov-30
9.7 LD
17.9
85
2019 WL3
2019-Nov-30
17.1 LD
10.8
29
2019 WJ4
2019-Nov-30
0.9 LD
18.5
7
2019 XO
2019-Dec-01
11.6 LD
8.5
13
2019 WH2
2019-Dec-01
3.4 LD
10.2
16
2019 WD3
2019-Dec-01
12.6 LD
8.3
33
2019 WN1
2019-Dec-01
4.3 LD
10.1
18
2019 WH4
2019-Dec-02
5.8 LD
8.1
12
2017 AP4
2019-Dec-03
8.5 LD
7.5
15
2019 WW
2019-Dec-05
8.6 LD
9.8
44
2019 WB5
2019-Dec-06
18.7 LD
22
48
2019 XN
2019-Dec-06
2.4 LD
9.7
11
2019 WR3
2019-Dec-06
14.2 LD
7.5
97
2019 WJ6
2019-Dec-07
7.5 LD
21.1
47
2019 XP
2019-Dec-07
5.5 LD
12.1
16
2018 XW2
2019-Dec-07
17.4 LD
13
28
2019 VH5
2019-Dec-08
18 LD
9.8
74
2019 XY
2019-Dec-09
3.2 LD
13.1
9
2019 XB
2019-Dec-09
17.4 LD
7.9
66
2019 WT3
2019-Dec-09
9.8 LD
11
40
2019 WO2
2019-Dec-09
4.8 LD
7.6
34
2019 XW
2019-Dec-10
10.8 LD
15.6
60
2019 WP6
2019-Dec-14
6.4 LD
4.4
22
2019 XF
2019-Dec-18
9.5 LD
24.4
78
216258
2019-Dec-20
15.3 LD
11.8
324
2013 XY20
2019-Dec-21
18.3 LD
1.9
28
2017 XQ60
2019-Dec-22
11 LD
15.6
47
310442
2019-Dec-26
19 LD
12.3
372
2019 WR4
2019-Dec-31
11.7 LD
4.3
21
2019 AE3
2020-Jan-02
4.9 LD
8.2
13
2019 UO
2020-Jan-10
11.8 LD
9.4
359
2019 WC5
2020-Jan-11
6.4 LD
13
112
2011 EP51
2020-Jan-15
19.6 LD
7.1
32
2017 RZ15
2020-Jan-15
12.1 LD
7.4
14
2009 BH2
2020-Jan-18
14.6 LD
17.9
118
2013 DU
2020-Jan-20
15.3 LD
6.4
59
2019 TF2
2020-Jan-23
16.2 LD
1.6
18
2018 BM5
2020-Jan-23
13.1 LD
8.6
12
2018 AL12
2020-Jan-30
18.2 LD
17.7
39
2018 BU1
2020-Feb-02
19.4 LD
10
41
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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