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Space Weather Update: 11/01/2016

By, 11/01/2016

SUNSET SKY SHOW: When the sun goes down tonight, step outside and look southwest. Venus and Saturn have gathered in a loose conjunction just above the rosy glow of sunset -- and the crescent Moon is moving in to join them. The three celestial bodies will form a must-see triangle on Wednesday evening. Sky maps:Nov. 1Nov. 2.

THE CROOKED CRESCENT MOON: Even the Moon dressed up for Halloween. It went as a crooked crescent. John Stetson photographed young Luna from his home on the shore of Sebago Lake, Maine:


"When I saw it on Oct. 31st, the Moon was only 29 hours past New," says Stetson. Temperature gradients near the lake's surface caused the atmosphere to act like a weird lens, "distorting the color and shape of the crescent as the Moon approached the horizon. It was a real treat!"

Realtime Space Weather Photo Gallery

SPOOKY AURORAS: Earth is exiting a stream of solar wind that produced magnificent auroras around the Arctic Circle during the last week of October. Although the storms are subsiding, there was still enough residual solar wind to shine an eerie light over Tromsø, Norway, on Halloween:


"Let me introduce Albert," says Egon Filter who took the picture. "He has been observing Northern Lights from Tromso for many years. Albert says it keeps him young!" Egon and Albert were traveling with Marianne's Heaven on Earth Aurora Chaser Tours, a proud supporter of

As Earth leaves one stream of solar wind, another is in the offing. A cluster of minor coronal holes on the sun is spewing plasma into space, and the material should reach our planet on Nov. 4th or 5th. Geomagnetic activity is possible on those dates, with a resurgence of lights around the Arctic Circle. Free: Aurora Alerts.

Realtime Aurora Photo Gallery

Realtime Airglow Photo Gallery

Realtime Sprite 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. 1, 2016, the network reported 36 fireballs.
(25 sporadics, 8 Northern Taurids, 3 Orionids)



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 1, 2016 there were 1739 potentially hazardous asteroids.

Recent & Upcoming Earth-asteroid encounters:Asteroid


Miss Distance


2016 UR41

Oct 29

2.6 LD

11 m

2016 UB41

Oct 29

4.1 LD

18 m

2016 UQ5

Oct 30

13.9 LD

44 m

2016 UR36

Oct 31

1.3 LD

13 m

2016 TB57

Oct 31

5.2 LD

26 m

2016 UP36

Oct 31

5 LD

28 m

2003 YT1

Oct 31

13.5 LD

850 m

2016 UG57

Oct 31

5.7 LD

13 m

2016 UH57

Nov 1

6.8 LD

23 m

2016 UX5

Nov 2

7.1 LD

21 m

2016 TG55

Nov 4

3.8 LD

29 m

2016 UE

Nov 5

5.2 LD

39 m

2007 LS

Nov 6

33.3 LD

1.2 km

2004 KB

Nov 10

10 LD

260 m

2016 UY56

Nov 18

7.2 LD

73 m

2002 QF15

Nov 19

62.6 LD

2.2 km

2009 TB8

Nov 24

51.4 LD

1.0 km

5143 Heracles

Nov 28

57.2 LD

2.4 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


Readers, thank you for your patience while we continue to develop this new section of 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, 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. 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 12% 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.


Current Conditions

Solar wind
speed: 488.9 km/sec
density: 7.1 protons/cm3

more data: ACEDSCOVR
Updated: Today at 2206 UTX-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: B2
2023 UT Nov01
24-hr: B2 2023 UT Nov01
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2200 UTDaily Sun: 01 Nov 16New sunspot AR2605 is quiet and stable. Solar flare activity remains very low. Credit: SDO/HMI

Sunspot number: 12
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 01 Nov 2016

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 0 days
2016 total: 21 days (8%) 
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 01 Nov 2016

The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 77 sfu

explanation | more data
Updated 01 Nov 2016

Current Auroral Oval:


Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
Credit: NOAA/OvationPlanetary K-index
Now: Kp= 2 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 3
explanation | more data
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 5.5 nT
Bz: -1.6 nT north

more data: ACEDSCOVR
Updated: Today at 2207 UTCoronal Holes: 01 Nov 16
Streams of solar wind flowing from these minor coronal holes should reach Earth on Nov.4-5. Credit: NASA/SDO.Noctilucent Clouds NASA's AIM spacecraft has suffered an anomaly, and a software patch is required to fix it. As a result, noctilucent cloud images will not return until further notice. AIM science team members are optimistic that the


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

NOAA Forecasts

Updated at: 2016 Oct 31 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 Oct 31 2200 UTCMid-latitudes

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24-48 hr


15 %

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05 %

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01 %

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High latitudes

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24-48 hr


15 %

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