Spotless Days Current Stretch: 0 days 2023 total: 0 days (0%) 2022 total: 1 day (<1%) 2021 total: 64 days (18%) 2020 total: 208 days (57%) 2019 total: 281 days (77%) 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 23 May 2023
Thermosphere Climate Index today: 20.71x1010W Warm Max: 49.4x1010 W Hot (10/1957) Min: 2.05x1010 W Cold (02/2009) explanation | more data:gfx, txt Updated 23 May 2023
Cosmic RaysSolar Cycle 25 is intensifying, and this is reflected in the number of cosmic rays entering Earth's atmosphere. Neutron counts from the University of Oulu's Sodankyla Geophysical Observatory show that cosmic rays reaching Earth are slowly declining--a result of the yin-yang relationship between the solar cycle and cosmic rays. Oulu Neutron Counts Percentages of the Space Age average: today: -0.6% Below Average 48-hr change: +0.8% Max: +11.7% Very High (12/2009) Min: -32.1% Very Low (06/1991) explanation |more data Updated 23 May 2023 @ 1700 UT
Interplanetary Mag. Field Btotal: 4.06 nT Bz: -0.83 nT south more data: ACE, DSCOVR Updated: Today at 1147 UT
Coronal Holes: 23 May 23
Solar wind flowing from the indicated coronal hole could reach Earth on May 24-25. Credit: SDO/AIA
Noctilucent Clouds Bad news: NASA's AIM spacecraft, which monitors noctilucent clouds, may be dead due to problems with an onboard battery. Mission controllers have not yet given up all hope, so stay tuned.
Geomagnetic Storms: Probabilities for significant disturbances in Earth's magnetic field are given for three activity levels: active, minor storm, severe storm
Updated at: 2023 May 23 2200 UTC
Tuesday, May. 23, 2023
What's up in space
Text created by ChatGPT and other Large Language Models is spreading rapidly across the Internet. It's well-written, artificial, frequently inaccurate. If you find a mistake on Spaceweather.com, rest assured it was made by a real human being. This is an AI Free Zone!
SUBSIDING CHANCE OF FLARES: NOAA forecasters have decreased the odds of an X-class flare from 30% (yesterday) to 20% (today). This is in response to decay in the magnetic field of sunspot AR3311, currently the biggest threat for flares on the solar disk. 20% is still plenty, though, for an X-class explosion. Solar flare alerts:SMS Text.
NAKED-EYE SUNSPOT: Got eclipse glasses? Put them on and look at the sun. Sunspot AR3310 is big enough to see without magnification. South Korean astronomer Bum-Suk Yeom created this infographic:
"A giant sunspot is crossing the sun's disk, and I could see it clearly with solar glasses," says Yeom. "Caution! You must use eclipse glasses or solar filters to protect your eyes."
In addition, Canadian wildfires are creating a type of natural solar filter for observers in parts of North America. Thick smoke dims the setting sun, revealing sunspots that would normally be lost in the glare. Here are some examples from New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Nebraska.
A NEW AND BIGGER STARLINK SATELLITE: On May 20th, Dan Bush of Albany, Missouri, watched in amazement as 22 newly-launched Starlink satellites passed over his backyard. "They flared incredibly brightly," says Bush, who recorded this video of sunlight glinting off their metallic bodies:
The flares were incredibly bright because they came from a new type of satellite--the Starlink V2 Mini. Ironically, these "Mini" satellites are much larger then their predecessors. Each Starlink V2 Mini weighs about 1,760 pounds, nearly three times heavier than older Starlinks. They are also much wider, with two solar panels spanning 100 ft tip-to-tip. Previous generations had a single solar array only 36 ft wide.
Improved phased array antennas on these new Starlinks have four times the communications capacity of earlier generations, and they are the next step in SpaceX's plans to beam high-speed internet directly to cell phones.
With the May 19th launch of these satellites from Cape Canaveral, SpaceX has deployed 4,469 Starlinks in all, including units no longer in service. More than 4,100 Starlink satellites are currently in orbit.
MR. SPOCK SOAP (VULCAN MINT SCENTED): It's the logical way to get clean: Vulcan-mint scented Spock Soap. This bar touched space on April 29, 2023, when it hitched a ride onboard an Earth to Sky Calculus cosmic ray balloon:
The students of Earth to Sky are selling space soap to support their cosmic ray ballooning program. Each bar comes with a greeting card showing the soap in flight and telling the story of its journey to the stratosphere and back again.
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 May 23, 2023, the network reported 2 fireballs. (2 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 May 23, 2023 there were 2335 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Notes: LD means "Lunar Distance." 1 LD = 384,401 km, the distance between Earth and the Moon. 1 LD also equals 0.00256 AU.
Cosmic Rays in the Atmosphere
SPACE WEATHER BALLOON DATA: Almost 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 sensors that detect secondary cosmic rays, a form of radiation from space that can penetrate all the way down to Earth's surface. Our monitoring program has been underway without interruption for 7 years, resulting in a unique dataset of in situ atmospheric measurements.
Latest results (July 2022): Atmospheric radiation is decreasing in 2022. Our latest measurements in July 2022 registered a 6-year low:
What's going on? Ironically, the radiation drop is caused by increasing solar activity. Solar Cycle 25 has roared to life faster than forecasters expected. The sun's strengthening and increasingly tangled magnetic field repels cosmic rays from deep space. In addition, solar coronal mass ejections (CMEs) sweep aside cosmic rays, causing sharp reductions called "Forbush Decreases." The two effects blend together to bring daily radiation levels down.
.Who cares? Cosmic rays are a surprisingly "down to Earth" form of space weather. They can alter the chemistry of the atmosphere, trigger lightning, and penetrate commercial airplanes. According to a study from the Harvard T.H. Chan school of public health, crews of aircraft have higher rates of cancer than the general population. The researchers listed cosmic rays, irregular sleep habits, and chemical contaminants as leading risk factors. A number of controversial studies (#1, #2, #3, #4) go even further, linking cosmic rays with cardiac arrhythmias and sudden cardiac death.
Technical notes: 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.
Data points in the graph labeled "Stratospheric Radiation" correspond to the peak of the Regener-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 Regener and Georg Pfotzer discovered the maximum using balloons in the 1930s and it is what we are measuring today.
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