Solar wind
speed: 367.9 km/sec
density: 12.1 protons/cm3
more data: ACE, DSCOVR
Updated: Today at 0234 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A7
1844 UT Apr24
24-hr: A7
1145 UT Apr24
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2359 UT
Daily Sun: 24 Apr 19
The sun is blank -- no sunspots. Credit: SDO/HMI

Sunspot number: 0
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 24 Apr 2019

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 3 days
2019 total: 65 days (57%)
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 24 Apr 2019


Thermosphere Climate Index
today: 4.37
x1010 W Cold
Max: 49.4
x1010 W Hot (10/1957)
Min: 2.05
x1010 W Cold (02/2009)
explanation | more data
Updated 24 Apr 2019

The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 69 sfu
explanation | more data
Updated 24 Apr 2019

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: 6.5 nT
Bz: 1.7 nT north
more data: ACE, DSCOVR
Updated: Today at 0233 UT
Coronal Holes: 24 Apr 19


Solar wind flowing from this southern coronal hole could reach Earth's magnetic field on April 24-25, causing polar geomagnetic unrest.
Credit: SDO/AIA

Noctilucent Clouds The northern season for noctilicent clouds is little more than a month away. The electric-blue clouds circling the north pole should return in mid- to late May. .
Switch view: Europe, USA, Asia, Polar
Updated at: 03-02-2019 16:55:03
SPACE WEATHER
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2019 Apr 24 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 Apr 24 2200 UTC
Mid-latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
ACTIVE
30 %
20 %
MINOR
10 %
05 %
SEVERE
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
ACTIVE
15 %
20 %
MINOR
30 %
25 %
SEVERE
30 %
20 %
 
Thursday, Apr. 25, 2019
What's up in space
       
 

Solar minimum is here - but even now strangely beautiful auroras are dancing around the poles. Deep inside the Arctic Circle, the expert guides of Aurora Holidays in Utsjoki, Finland, can help you chase them. Book now!

 

COSMIC RAYS ARE NEARING A SPACE AGE HIGH: Ten years ago, NASA reported a "perfect storm of cosmic rays." During the year 2009, radiation peppering Earth from deep space reached a 50-year high, registering levels never before seen during the Space Age.

It's about to happen again.

Ground-based neutron monitors and high-altitude cosmic ray balloons are registering a new increase in cosmic rays. The Oulu neutron monitor in Finland, which has been making measurements since 1964, reports levels in April 2019 only percentage points below the Space Age maximum of 2009:


Source: The Sodankyla Geophysical Observatory in Oulu, Finland.

What's going on? The answer is "Solar Minimum." During the low phase of the 11-year solar cycle, the sun's magnetic field and solar wind weaken. Cosmic rays find it easier to penetrate the inner solar system. In 2009, the sun experienced the deepest solar minimum in a century. Cosmic rays reaching Earth naturally surged.

Ten years later, solar minimum is back with renewed weakening of the sun's magnetic field and the solar wind. Again, it's a "perfect storm." A panel of experts led by NOAA and NASA recently predicted that the current minimum would reach a nadir in late 2019 or 2020, likely matching the record-setting minimum of 2009. If they're right, cosmic rays will continue to increase, with a new record possible in the near future.

Story continues after the Mother's Day ad....

MOTHER'S DAY IS LESS THAN WEEKS AWAY: Are you looking for an out-of-this world Mother's Day gift? Consider this: Every time the students of Earth to Sky Calculus launch a cosmic ray balloon, they include something extra in the payload--something mom will love:

Every item in the Earth to Sky Store has flown to the edge of space and comes with a greeting card showing the item in flight. The interior of the card tells the story of the gift's journey from launch to landing. Mom-satisfaction guaranteed!

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

COSMIC RAYS, CONTINUED... Cosmic rays cause "air showers" of secondary particles when they hit Earth's atmosphere. Indeed, this is what neutron monitors and cosmic ray balloons are measuring--the secondary spray of cosmic rays that rains down on Earth.

This spray is of special interest to air travelers. Secondary cosmic rays penetrate the hulls of commercial aircraft, dosing passengers with the whole body equivalent of a dental X-ray even on ordinary mid-latitude flights across the USA. International travelers receive even greater doses.


Above: Four years of overlapping data from neutron monitors and cosmic ray balloons.

The International Commission on Radiological Protection has classified pilots as occupational radiation workers because of accumulated cosmic ray doses they receive while flying. Moreover, a recent study by researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health shows that flight attendants face an elevated risk of cancer compared to members of the general population. They listed cosmic rays as one of several risk factors.

Stay tuned for updates as solar minimum deepens.

A sharable version of this story is available here.

Free: Spaceweather.com Newsletter

SOLAR WIND, INCOMING: A southern hole in the sun's atmosphere is spewing a stream of solar wind toward Earth. Minor geomagnetic storms are possible when the gaseous material arrives on April 24-25. NASA's STEREO-A spacecraft has already encountered the solar wind stream and measured its velocity: Between 500 and 600 km/s. Polar auroras may be seen despite waning full moonlight. Aurora alerts: SMS Text.


Realtime Aurora Photo Gallery


Realtime Space Weather Photo Gallery

  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 Apr. 24, 2019, the network reported 32 fireballs.
(19 sporadics, 13 April Lyrids)

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 April 25, 2019 there were 1967 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Recent & Upcoming Earth-asteroid encounters:
Asteroid
Date(UT)
Miss Distance
Velocity (km/s)
Diameter (m)
522684
2019-Apr-19
19 LD
11.5
214
2019 HE
2019-Apr-20
0.6 LD
12.2
16
2019 GZ3
2019-Apr-20
10.1 LD
14.2
23
2019 GM
2019-Apr-21
19.4 LD
10.4
35
2019 FV2
2019-Apr-22
15.6 LD
2.3
33
2019 GM4
2019-Apr-23
9.1 LD
8.4
69
2019 GF1
2019-Apr-27
4.7 LD
1.9
11
2019 GX5
2019-Apr-28
7.2 LD
10.6
26
2018 KK1
2019-May-05
13.9 LD
13.9
71
2017 RC
2019-May-09
14.5 LD
10.6
9
2008 HS3
2019-May-09
14.6 LD
5.3
162
2018 VX8
2019-May-12
6.2 LD
15.5
118
2019 GT1
2019-May-17
6.1 LD
3.9
37
2012 KT12
2019-May-18
3.3 LD
3.9
20
2015 KQ18
2019-May-25
10.7 LD
13.1
30
66391
2019-May-25
13.5 LD
21.5
1780
2003 LH
2019-May-28
15.6 LD
7.4
32
2011 HP
2019-May-30
12.3 LD
8.4
135
2014 MF18
2019-Jun-06
8.8 LD
3
22
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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