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Space Weather Update: 11/10/2016

By, 11/10/2016

TARDY CME SPARKS AURORAS OVER ALASKA: Arriving hours later than expected, a CME brushed past Earth's magnetic field on Nov. 9th at approximately 0600 UT.  At first the weak impact did little to spark geomagnetic activity. As Earth passed through the CME's magnetized wake, however, auroras did appear.  Marketa Murray sends this picture from a spot outside Fairbanks, Alaska:


"The CME arrived midnight Alaska time and we had amazing red auroras," says Murray.

In parts of Alaska, the light show lasted for hours. "A big campfire and a beautiful all-night aurora dance kept me warm and entertained in Alaska's chilly Interior near Nenana until 4:30 am," reports Todd Salat, who witnessed his own amazing display.

Realtime Aurora Photo Gallery

WHAT HAPPENS NEXT? More auroras are in the offing. A coronal hole has opened in the sun's atmosphere and it is spewing a stream of solar wind toward Earth.  NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory photographed the structure on Nov. 9th:


Coronal holes are places where the sun's magnetic field opens up and allows plasma (ionized gas) normally trapped by magnetic forces to escape.  A stream of solar wind flowing from this coronal hole is expected to reach our planet on Nov. 11-12, possibly sparking geomagnetic storms and high-latitude auroras when it arrives.  Stay tuned for updates as the solar wind approaches. Free: Aurora Alerts

Realtime Aurora Photo Gallery

FLIGHT OF THE SPACE PICKLE: Did you know that cosmic radiation in Earth's atmosphere is increasing?  It's true. These and other findings of the Earth to Sky Calculus ballooning program are funded not by government grants or corporate donations. Instead, we rely on crowdfunding.  Hence, the flight of the space pickle:


To raise funds for their ongoing research, and the students of Earth to Sky Calculus flew two dozen Christmas pickles to the stratosphere. On Nov. 5th, the glass gherkins ascended to an altitude of 111,900 feet, experiencing temperatures as low as -55 C and cosmic ray dose rates more than 100x Earth normal.

You can have one for your own tree. Price: $49.95.  All proceeds are used to support cutting-edge student research. The space pickle and other edge of space gifts may be found in the Earth to Sky Store.

Realtime Space Weather Photo Gallery

Realtime Sprite Photo Gallery

Realtime Airglow 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. 10, 2016, the network reported 21 fireballs.
(16 sporadics, 4 Northern Taurids, 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 10, 2016 there were 1741 potentially hazardous asteroids.

Recent & Upcoming Earth-asteroid encounters:Asteroid


Miss Distance


2016 VB1

Nov 7

0.7 LD

8 m

2016 VS

Nov 7

2.7 LD

14 m

2004 KB

Nov 10

10 LD

260 m

2016 VA1

Nov 11

11.2 LD

81 m

2016 VQ

Nov 11

2.5 LD

28 m

2016 VZ

Nov 12

3.1 LD

28 m

2016 VR

Nov 12

6.2 LD

24 m

2016 VY1

Nov 12

2.6 LD

49 m

2016 VN3

Nov 12

6.1 LD

23 m

2016 VX1

Nov 13

5.2 LD

38 m

2016 UB107

Nov 14

8.4 LD

42 m

2016 VK2

Nov 16

11.4 LD

44 m

2016 UY56

Nov 18

7.2 LD

73 m

2002 QF15

Nov 19

62.6 LD

2.2 km

5143 Heracles

Nov 28

57.2 LD

2.4 km

2015 YA

Dec 13

9.6 LD

15 m

2015 XX169

Dec 13

7.4 LD

15 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


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: 445.3 km/sec
density: 9.7 protons/cm3

more data: ACEDSCOVR
Updated: Today at 2321 UTX-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: B1
2247 UT Nov10
24-hr: B3 0639 UT Nov10
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2300 UTDaily Sun: 10 Nov 16New sunspot AR2607 poses no threat for solar flares. Credit: SDO/HMI

Sunspot number: 12
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 10 Nov 2016

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 0 days
2016 total: 23 days (7%) 
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 10 Nov 2016

The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 80 sfu

explanation | more data
Updated 10 Nov 2016

Current Auroral Oval:


Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
Credit: NOAA/OvationPlanetary K-index
Now: Kp= 3 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 4
explanation | more data
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 8.4 nT
Bz: 0.4 nT south

more data: ACEDSCOVR
Updated: Today at 2322 UTCoronal Holes: 10 Nov 16
Solar wind flowing from this southern coronal hole could reach Earth as early as Nov. 11-12. 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 Nov 10 2200 UTC


0-24 hr

24-48 hr


01 %

01 %


01 %

01 %

Geomagnetic Storms:
Probabilities for significant disturbances in Earth's magnetic field are given for three activity levels: activeminor stormsevere stormUpdated at: 2016 Nov 10 2200 UTCMid-latitudes

0-24 hr

24-48 hr


35 %

30 %


20 %

15 %


01 %

01 %

High latitudes

0-24 hr

24-48 hr


15 %

15 %


20 %

20 %


25 %

20 %