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Space Weather Update: 11/14/2015

By, 11/14/2015

CME MISSES EARTH... A CME expected to hit Earth's magnetic field on Nov. 12th did not. The solar storm cloud apparently missed our planet. Or maybe the CME is moving much more slowly than expected, which would mitigate its impact when it eventually arrives. Either way, the chance of a geomagnetic storm today is low.Aurora alertstext or voice

...BUT MYSTERY OBJECT HITS: A research aircraft organized by the UAE Space Agency and the International Astronomy Center is reporting the first images of WT1190F disintegrating off the coast of Sri Lanka on Friday the 13th. Click to view a movie of the fireball:

As predicted by the European Space Agency, the fireball was easy to see in the blue noon sky over the Indian Ocean--but only at aviation altitudes. Many observers on the ground could not see the fireball through widespread cloud cover. It was actually raining in Sri Lanka when the re-entry occured.

WT1190F is a piece of space junk discovered by the Catalina Sky Survey on Oct. 3rd. Before the impact, astrophysicist Jonathan McDowell told Nature that "the object is only 1 to 2 metres in size, and its trajectory shows that it has a low density, and is perhaps hollow. That suggests an artificial object, 'a lost piece of space history that's come back to haunt us." The translunar orbit of WT1190F is a clue to its origin: probably an old Moon mission. It could be a spent rocket stage or lunar module from the Apollo program.

The research aircraft was staffed, in part, by a group of experienced observers from NASA and the Seti Institute who have recorded many previous re-entries. According to their web site, "we have incredible imaging data and also succeeded in doing quality spectroscopy at blue and red wavelengths, which is a first for us in daytime conditions." Perhaps these data will provide clues to the origin of WT1190F. Stay tuned.

Realtime Space Weather Photo Gallery

GREAT CIRCLE OF MAGNETISM: A dark filament of magnetism in the sun's southern hemisphere has curled upon itself to form a circle of gargantuan porportions. The circumference of the ring is almost a million kilometers--dimensions that make it an easy target for backyard solar telescopes. Amateur astronomer Peter Desypris sends this picture from Athens, Greece:


"I could not fit the entire ring in my telescope's field of view," says . "This is a mosaic of two images."

Bushy magnetic filaments are often unstable, and they have a tendency to collapse. Filaments crashing to the surface of the sun can cause of a type of explosion called a Hyder flare. Any flare from this filament could be extra-energetic as it releases the tension stored in its million-km coil. Amateur astronomers are encouraged to monitor the structure for possible developments. Solar flare alertstext or voice

Realtime Space Weather Photo Gallery

Realtime Aurora Photo Gallery

Realtime Taurid Photo Gallery

Realtime Meteor 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 Nov. 14, 2015, the network reported 46 fireballs.
(23 sporadics, 18 Northern Taurids, 4 Leonids, 1 omicron Eridanid)

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 November 14, 2015 there were 1634 potentially hazardous asteroids.

Recent & Upcoming Earth-asteroid encounters:Asteroid


Miss Distance


2015 VM64

Nov 10

5.5 LD

26 m

2015 VH65

Nov 11

5.9 LD

13 m

2015 VR64

Nov 12

3 LD

14 m

2015 VU65

Nov 14

5.2 LD

23 m

2015 VN105

Nov 16

5.5 LD

12 m

2015 VD105

Nov 16

7.2 LD

52 m

2005 UL5

Nov 20

5.9 LD

390 m

2015 VE66

Nov 21

7.5 LD

62 m

2015 VH2

Nov 24

12.9 LD

14 m

2003 EB50

Nov 29

48.8 LD

2.2 km

2007 BG29

Dec 1

54.1 LD

1.1 km

1998 WT24

Dec 11

10.9 LD

1.1 km

2011 YD29

Dec 24

9.7 LD

24 m

2003 SD220

Dec 24

28.4 LD

1.8 km

2008 CM

Dec 29

22.8 LD

1.5 km

2004 MQ1

Jan 2

55.4 LD

1.1 km

1999 JV6

Jan 6

12.6 LD

410 m

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. Here is the data from our latest flight, Oct. 22nd:

Current Conditions

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.

Solar wind
speed: 458.3 km/sec
density: 3.3 protons/cm3

explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 1557 UTX-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: B2
1129 UT Nov14
24-hr: B2 1129 UT Nov14
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 1500 UTDaily Sun: 14 Nov 15None of these small sunspots poses a threat for strong flares. Solar activity is low. Credit: SDO/HMI

Sunspot number: 50
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 14 Nov 2015

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 0 days
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 Nov 2015

The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 103 sfu

explanation | more data
Updated 14 Nov 2015

Current Auroral Oval:


Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
Credit: NOAA/OvationPlanetary K-index
Now: Kp= 2 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 4
explanation | more data
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 3.5 nT
Bz: 1.7 nT north

explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 1557 UTCoronal Holes: 14 Nov 15 
There are no large coronal holes on the Earth-facing side of the sun. Credit: SDO/AIA.Noctilucent Clouds The northern season for NLCs is finished. According to NASA's AIM spacecraft, the last clouds were observed over Greenland on Aug. 27th. Now the waiting begins for the southern season expected to begin in November.


Switch view: Europe, USA, Asia, PolarUpdated at: 09-01-2015 09:00:00

NOAA Forecasts

Updated at: 2015 Nov 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: 2015 Nov 13 2200 UTCMid-latitudes

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24-48 hr


40 %

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01 %

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High latitudes

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24-48 hr


10 %

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55 %

40 %