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Space Weather Update: 08/14/2016

By, 08/14/2016

SOLAR WIND: NOAA forecasters say that a high-speed (700 km/s) stream of solar wind is likely to hit Earth's magnetic field on Aug. 15-16. Its arrival could sparkG1-class geomagnetic storms. The visibility of auroras will be mitigated, however, by the glare from the nearly full Moon. Aurora alerts: text or voice

PERSEID METEOR SHOWER--UPDATE: Yes, there was a Perseid outburst on Aug. 11-12. Maybe two. Reporting via the Central Bureau of Astronomical Telegrams, Peter Jenniskens of the SETI Institute writes that "predicted encounters with the 1-revolution and 4-revolution dust trails of comet 109P/Swift-Tuttle were observed on Aug. 12" with peak rates as high as 190 meteors per hour. Preliminary data from the International Meteor Organization (IMO) Video Network suggest that the two dust trails merged into a nearly single peak not much more than ~1 hour long on Aug. 11th around 23:00 UT. A second broader outburst, well placed for US observers, peaked 8 hours later. Check the full telegram for details.

During the first outburst, which favored Europe and Asia, Peter Lawrence photographed dozens of Perseids from his backyard in Selsey, West Sussex, UK:


"I set up four cameras," he says. "In total, they captured 88 Perseid meteor trails."

With so many meteors flying across the skies of Europe, photographers were tempted to try some unique shots. Olivier Staiger drove 700 miles from Switzerland to Italy to catch Perseids flying above this waterspout in the Adriatic Sea:


Using two cameras, one trained on the lightning-bright thunderhead and another on the dark starry sky above, he scanned the scene for more than 5 hours. "I saw many meteors flying overhead but never managed to record a perfect Perseid-waterspout conjunction," says Staiger. "Maybe next time."

The Perseid Photo Gallery contains more unusual meteor shots. Many of them show a green glow in the night sky, like this:


Janis Satrovskis took the picture on Aug. 11th from Burtnieki, Valmiera, Latvia. "The green airglow provided a beautiful backdrop for the meteor shower," says Satrovskis.

Airglow is aurora-like phenomenon caused by chemical reactions in the upper atmosphere. Human eyes seldom notice the faint glow, but It can be photographed on almost any clear dark night, anywhere in the world. The source of the green light is oxygen atoms some 90 km to 100 km above Earth's surface where gravity waves impress the verdant glow with a dramatic rippling structure.

Realtime Perseid Photo Gallery

Realtime Space Weather Photo Gallery

Realtime Noctilucent Cloud Photo Gallery

Realtime Sprite Photo Gallery

Realtime Aurora 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

On Aug. 14, 2016, the network reported 92 fireballs.
(67 sporadics, 23 Perseids, 1 Northern delta Aquariid, 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 August 14, 2016 there were 1722 potentially hazardous asteroids.

Recent & Upcoming Earth-asteroid encounters:Asteroid


Miss Distance


2016 PX8

Aug 11

7.6 LD

17 m

2016 PW8

Aug 12

6.1 LD

26 m

2000 DP107

Aug 12

66.5 LD

1.0 km

2016 PS26

Aug 25

13.8 LD

33 m

2016 PA40

Aug 29

14.6 LD

57 m

2004 BO41

Sep 7

38.9 LD

1.1 km

2015 KE

Sep 10

14.9 LD

23 m

2009 UG

Sep 30

7.3 LD

101 m

2100 Ra-Shalom

Oct 9

58.3 LD

1.1 km

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

Situation Report -- Oct. 30, 2015Stratospheric Radiation (+37o N)

Cosmic ray levels are elevated(+6.1% above the Space Age median). The trend is flat. Cosmic ray levels have increased +0% in the past month.

Sept. 06: 4.14 uSv/hr (414 uRad/hr)

Sept. 12: 4.09 uSv/hr (409 uRad/hr)

Sept. 23: 4.12 uSv/hr (412 uRad/hr)

Sept. 25: 4.16 uSv/hr (416 uRad/hr)

Sept. 27: 4.13 uSv/hr (413 uRad/hr)

Oct. 11: 4.02 uSv/hr (402 uRad/hr)

Oct. 22: 4.11 uSv/hr (411 uRad/hr)

These measurements are based on regular space weather balloon flights: learn more.

Approximately once a week, 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 cloudstrigger lightning, and penetrate commercial airplanes. Our measurements show that someone flying back and forth across the continental USA, just once, can absorb as much ionizing radiation as 2 to 5 dental X-rays. For example, here is the data from a flight on Oct. 22, 2015:


Radiation levels peak at the entrance to the stratosphere in a broad region called the "Pfotzer Maximum." This peak is named after physicist George Pfotzer who discovered it using balloons and Geiger tubes in the 1930s. Radiation levels there are more than 80x sea level.

Note that the bottom of the Pfotzer Maximim is near 55,000 ft. This means that some high-flying aircraft are not far from the zone of maximum radiation. Indeed, according to the Oct 22th measurements, a plane flying at 45,000 feet is exposed to 2.79 uSv/hr. At that rate, a passenger would absorb about one dental X-ray's worth of radiation in about 5 hours.

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.


Current Conditions

Solar wind
speed: 376.2 km/sec
density: 3.6 protons/cm3

explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 1943 UTX-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: B2
1811 UT Aug14
24-hr: B2 1811 UT Aug14
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 1900 UTDaily Sun: 14 Aug 16Not one of these sunspots has the type of unstable magnetic field that poses a threat for strong flares. Credit: SDO/HMI

Sunspot number: 73
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 14 Aug 2016

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 0 days
2016 total: 20 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 14 Aug 2016

The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 91 sfu

explanation | more data
Updated 14 Aug 2016

Current Auroral Oval:


Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
Credit: NOAA/OvationPlanetary K-index
Now: Kp= 0 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 2
explanation | more data
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 5.0 nT
Bz: 1.4 nT north

explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 1943 UTCoronal Holes: 14 Aug 16
Solar wind flowing from the indicated coronal hole could reach Earth on Aug. 16th. Credit: NASA/SDO.Noctilucent Clouds Images from NASA's AIM spacecraft are once again appearing on Check back daily for space-based sightings of noctilucent clouds.


Switch view: Europe, USA, Asia, PolarUpdated at: 08-06-2016 16:55:02

NOAA Forecasts

Updated at: 2016 Aug 13 2200 UTC


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Geomagnetic Storms:
Probabilities for significant disturbances in Earth's magnetic field are given for three activity levels: activeminor stormsevere stormUpdated at: 2016 Aug 13 2200 UTCMid-latitudes

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24-48 hr


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High latitudes

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15 %

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