Solar wind
speed: 396.4 km/sec
density: 9.9 protons/cm3
more data: ACE, DSCOVR
Updated: Today at 1539 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A9
0924 UT Oct21
24-hr: C1
0000 UT Oct21
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 1500 UT
Daily Sun: 21 Oct 17
A new sunspot is emerging at the circled location. Credit: SDO/HMI

Sunspot number: 0
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 19 Oct 2017

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 0 days
2017 total: 68 days (23%)
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 21 Oct 2017


The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 75 sfu
explanation | more data
Updated 21 Oct 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= 2
quiet
explanation | more data
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 6.4 nT
Bz: -2.8 nT south
more data: ACE, DSCOVR
Updated: Today at 1538 UT
Coronal Holes: 21 Oct 17

Solar wind flowing from this coronal hole should reach Earth on Oct. 24-25. Credit: NASA/SDO.
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
SPACE WEATHER
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2017 Oct 20 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: 2017 Oct 20 2200 UTC
Mid-latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
ACTIVE
15 %
15 %
MINOR
05 %
05 %
SEVERE
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
ACTIVE
15 %
15 %
MINOR
30 %
30 %
SEVERE
25 %
25 %
 
Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017
What's up in space
       
 

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ORIONID METEOR SHOWER: Earth is entering a stream of debris from Halley's Comet, source of the annual Orionid meteor shower. Just last night, NASA's network of all-sky meteor cameras detected 23 Orionid fireballs over the USA--a result of comet dust hitting the atmosphere at speeds exceeding 65 km/s (145,000 mph). Forecasters expect the shower to peak on Oct. 21-22 with as many as 25 meteors per hour. The best time to look is during the dark hours before dawn when the constellation Orion is high in the sky. [sky map] [live meteor counts]

M-CLASS SOLAR FLARE: A new sunspot rotating over the sun's southeastern limb erupted during the late hours of Oct. 20th, producing an M1-class solar flare, This breaks a string of deep quiet that has lasted since mid-September. An extreme UV telescope onboard NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory recorded the blast:

Play it again. The movie shows a volume of gas in the sun's atmosphere being swept aside by the explosion.  That gas formed the core of a bright coronal mass ejection (CME)--a cloud that billowed away from the sun at approximately 340 km/s. Because the blast site was so far off the Sun-Earth line, the CME will not hit Earth. Free: Aurora Alerts.

Realtime Aurora Photo Gallery

SOLAR PROMINENCE: An enormous wall of plasma is towering over the northeastern limb of the sun today. Alan Friedman photographed the structure on Oct. 19th from his backyard observatory in Buffalo, New York. "The field of view here is 328,000 miles wide," says Friedman, who inserted a picture of Earth for scale:

Astronomers call this a "hedgerow prominence." Hot glowing plasma inside the structure is held aloft by unstable solar magnetic fields. NASA and Japanese space telescopes have taken high resolution images of similar prominences and seen some amazing things such as (1) tadpole-shaped plumes that float up from the base of the prominence; (2) streams of plasma that descend from the top like waterfalls; and (3) swirls and vortices that resemble van Gogh's Starry Night.

Got a solar telescope? Take a look!

Realtime Space Weather Photo Gallery

STERLING SILVER SPACE PUMPKIN: This pendant has touched space. On Oct. 15, 2017, the students of Earth to Sky Calculus launched a space weather balloon from the Sierra Nevada mountains of central California. Its mission: to measure cosmic rays at the top of Earth's atmosphere. The payload carried an array of X-ray/gamma-ray detectors, GPS trackers, temperature/pressure sensors and, for fundraising, a bunch of pumpkin pendants:

This sterling silver pendant is plated with white and yellow gold and features a glow-in-the-dark pumpkin bead. It ascended to an altitude of 32 km (105,000 feet) where the balloon exploded. The payload parachuted back to Earth, landing in the Eureka Valley on the outskirts of Death Valley National Park.

You can have one for $139.95. Each necklace comes with a unique gift card showing the pendantl floating at the top of Earth's atmosphere. The interior of the card tells the story of the flight and confirms that this gift has been to the edge of space and back again.

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 Spaceweather.com.

On Oct. 21, 2017, the network reported 96 fireballs.
(49 sporadics, 39 Orionids, 4 epsilon Geminids, 2 Leonis Minorids, 1 Southern Taurid, 1)

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 October 21, 2017 there were 1847 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Recent & Upcoming Earth-asteroid encounters:
Asteroid
Date(UT)
Miss Distance
Velocity (km/s)
Diameter (m)
2017 UF
2017-Oct-15
1 LD
23.1
9
2017 UC
2017-Oct-15
13.3 LD
5.4
20
2017 UR
2017-Oct-15
4.8 LD
11.2
38
2017 TK4
2017-Oct-15
4.2 LD
4.2
11
2017 UG1
2017-Oct-16
11.3 LD
5.8
10
2017 TH5
2017-Oct-16
0.3 LD
12.1
8
2017 UU1
2017-Oct-16
2 LD
5.7
15
2017 TU3
2017-Oct-17
8.2 LD
11.9
42
2017 TE5
2017-Oct-17
1.3 LD
10.9
23
2017 UA
2017-Oct-17
1.2 LD
8
7
2017 TW5
2017-Oct-17
3.1 LD
15.5
14
2017 TX5
2017-Oct-18
4.6 LD
10.2
23
2017 TD5
2017-Oct-18
11.2 LD
18.7
36
2006 TU7
2017-Oct-18
18.7 LD
13.3
148
2017 UJ
2017-Oct-19
2.8 LD
12
27
2017 TG2
2017-Oct-19
19.9 LD
19.2
168
2017 TD6
2017-Oct-19
0.5 LD
9.2
13
2017 TA6
2017-Oct-19
6.7 LD
4.4
16
2017 UG
2017-Oct-20
4.3 LD
10.6
11
2017 SY20
2017-Oct-20
18.9 LD
7.2
47
2017 UP
2017-Oct-20
6.6 LD
14.3
21
2017 TO2
2017-Oct-20
13.9 LD
13.7
79
2017 SH14
2017-Oct-20
15.4 LD
6.9
45
2017 UH1
2017-Oct-21
5 LD
21.9
23
2017 TG4
2017-Oct-21
4.8 LD
11.4
51
2017 UM1
2017-Oct-21
7 LD
17.3
27
2017 TC5
2017-Oct-21
15.6 LD
8.3
20
2017 TV5
2017-Oct-22
3.4 LD
10.7
15
171576
2017-Oct-22
5.8 LD
21.2
677
2017 TQ5
2017-Oct-22
5.5 LD
5.8
11
2017 TQ4
2017-Oct-22
11.2 LD
11
40
2017 US
2017-Oct-22
7.5 LD
4.1
24
2017 TK6
2017-Oct-23
19.3 LD
11.7
47
2017 UH
2017-Oct-25
15.1 LD
10.9
19
2017 TL4
2017-Oct-25
14.7 LD
11.4
48
2017 TZ4
2017-Oct-31
19.3 LD
13.1
101
2003 UV11
2017-Oct-31
15 LD
24.5
447
2017 TZ3
2017-Nov-09
10.3 LD
8.7
34
444584
2017-Nov-17
8.7 LD
14.8
324
2008 WM61
2017-Dec-03
3.8 LD
4.7
16
2015 XX169
2017-Dec-14
9.7 LD
6.3
11
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 Spaceweather.com. 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, 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 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.
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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