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SpaceWeather.com -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
 
Solar wind
speed: 346.9 km/sec
density: 4.1 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2346 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A8
1810 UT Dec09
24-hr: A8
0845 UT Dec09
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2300 UT
Daily Sun: 09 Dec 19
The sun is blank--no sunspots. Credit: SDO/HMI

Sunspot number: 0
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 09 Dec 2019

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 25 days
2019 total: 262 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 09 Dec 2019


Thermosphere Climate Index
today: 3.22
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 09 Dec
2019

The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 72 sfu
explanation | more data
Updated 09 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: +10.6% Very High
7-day change: +2.8%
Max: +11.7% Very High
(12/2009)
Min: -32.1% Very Low (06/1991)
explanation | more data
Updated 09 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: 4.77 uGy/hr High
change since 2015: +23%
Max: 4.79 uGy/hr High
(10/2019)
Min: 3.80 uGy/hr Low (05/2015)
explanation | more data
Updated 06 Dec 2019

Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
Credit: NOAA/Ovation
Planetary K-index
Now: Kp= 0 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 3
quiet
explanation | more data
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 6.9 nT
Bz: 2.3 nT north
more data: ACE, DSCOVR
Updated: Today at 2346 UT
Coronal Holes: 09 Dec 19

Solar wind flowing from this minor coronal hole could hit Earth's magnetic field on Dec. 13th. No geomagnetic storms are expected.
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: 12-09-2019 15:55:02 UT
SPACE WEATHER
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2019 Dec 09 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 09 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 %
 
Monday, Dec. 9, 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!

 

VENUS-SATURN CONJUNCTION: When the sun goes down tonight, step outside and look southwest. Venus and Saturn are converging for a sunset conjunction. At closest approach on Dec. 11th, the two planets will be just under 2 degrees apart. Brilliant Venus pops out of the twilight first, followed ~15 minutes later by 1st-magnitude Saturn. Full story.

ONE WEEK FROM A SPACE AGE RECORD: 2019 is about to set a Space Age record. So far this year, the sun has been blank (no sunspots) for 262 days, including the last 25 days in a row. If the streak continues for only 7 more days, 2019 will break the Space Age record for spotless suns.


Above: The blank sun on Dec. 8, 2019. Credit: NASA/Solar Dynamics Observatory

The previous record-holder is the year 2008, when the sun was blank for 268 days, making the Solar Minimum of 2008-2009 the deepest of the Space Age. Next weekend, barring a sudden profusion of sunspots, 2019 will move into first place.

Solar Minimum is a normal part of the 11-year sunspot cycle. The past two (2008-2009 and 2018-2019) have been long and deep, making them "century-class" Minima. To find a year with more blank suns, you have to go back to 1913, which had 311 spotless days.

What are the side-effects of Solar Minimum? On one hand, solar flares and geomagnetic storms subside, making it harder to catch Northern Lights at mid-latitudes. Space weather grows "quiet." On the other hand, cosmic rays intensify. The sun's weakening magnetic field allows more particles from deep space into the solar system, boosting radiation levels in Earth's atmosphere. Indeed, this is happening right now with cosmic rays nearing a Space Age record

Stay tuned for updates this week!

Realtime Spaceweather Photo Gallery
Free:
Spaceweather.com Newsletter

THE NORTHERN LIGHTS PENDANT: On Dec. 6, 2019, the students of Earth to Sky Calculus launched a cosmic ray balloon to the stratosphere. This Northern Lights pendant went along for the ride, flying more than 107,612 feet above the rugged Sierra Nevada mountains of central California:

You can have it for $119.95. The students are selling these pendants to support their cosmic ray ballooning program. Each one comes with a greeting card showing the pendant in flight and telling the story of its journey to the edge of space. It makes an out-of-this-world Christmas gift!

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

IF YOU WANT TO SEE A CRAZY SUN HALO, GO SKIING... Many of us have seen a sun halo--a ring around the sun caused by ice crystals in clouds. The luminous rings are usually simple circles. On Dec. 1st, however, things got complicated. "I witnessed a very complex halo display," reports Cindy Bidois, who sends this picture from Val Thorens in the French Alps:

In Bidois's photo, we see a parhelic circle, a supralateral arc, a 22-degree halo, a circumzenithal arc, an upper tangent arc, a Parry arc, a sun pillar and a pair of sundogs. "It was crazy," she says.

Complex halos like this require not just one type of ice crystal, but many, with  gem-like perfection and unusually precise crystal-to-crystal alignment. Clouds that contain such a rare ensemble of ice crystals are rare. In this case, the clouds had help--from snow-making machines.

Val Thorens, located at an altitude of 2300m, is the highest ski town in Europe. Snow-making machines at ski resorts produce a special type of ice. Crystals called "diamond dust" grow slowly downwind of ski-slope snow blowers. These man-made crystals tend to be more optically perfect than natural crystals in clouds, producing extra-bright, extra-sharp sun halos just like Bidois saw.


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. 09, 2019, the network reported 6 fireballs.
(6 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 December 9, 2019 there were 2018 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Recent & Upcoming Earth-asteroid encounters:
Asteroid
Date(UT)
Miss Distance
Velocity (km/s)
Diameter (m)
2019 XO2
2019-Dec-04
19.2 LD
17.3
207
2019 XF2
2019-Dec-04
1.3 LD
10.4
14
2019 XR1
2019-Dec-04
1.4 LD
11.7
22
2019 XE2
2019-Dec-04
4.1 LD
7.3
15
2019 WW
2019-Dec-05
8.6 LD
9.8
44
2019 XM2
2019-Dec-05
2.3 LD
18.1
19
2019 WB5
2019-Dec-06
18.7 LD
22
48
2019 XN
2019-Dec-06
2.4 LD
9.7
10
2019 WR3
2019-Dec-06
14.2 LD
7.5
96
2019 WJ6
2019-Dec-07
7.5 LD
21.1
48
2019 XT2
2019-Dec-07
1.4 LD
8.4
18
2019 XP
2019-Dec-07
5.5 LD
12.2
17
2018 XW2
2019-Dec-07
17.4 LD
13
28
2019 VH5
2019-Dec-08
18 LD
9.8
76
2019 XY
2019-Dec-09
3.2 LD
13.1
9
2019 XB
2019-Dec-09
17.3 LD
7.9
69
2019 WT3
2019-Dec-09
9.8 LD
11
40
2019 WO2
2019-Dec-09
4.8 LD
7.6
32
2019 XW
2019-Dec-10
10.8 LD
15.6
59
2019 XO1
2019-Dec-13
7.9 LD
7.9
44
2019 WP6
2019-Dec-14
6.4 LD
4.4
22
2019 XF
2019-Dec-18
9.4 LD
24.1
77
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
4.2
21
2019 AE3
2020-Jan-02
4.9 LD
8.2
13
2019 UO
2020-Jan-10
11.8 LD
9.4
356
2019 WC5
2020-Jan-11
6.3 LD
13
108
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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