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Space Weather Update: 11/15/2016

By, 11/15/2016

SUBSIDING CHANCE OF STORMS: Earth is exiting a stream of high-speed solar wind.  As a result, the chance of magnetic storms and auroras is decreasing. NOAA forecasters say the odds of a G1-class storm on Nov. 15th are no more than 10%. Browse: aurora photo gallery.

SUPERMOON OVER ANTARCTICA (AND ELSEWHERE): Around the world, billions of people marveled at last night's supermoon. Only a handful saw it from Antarctica. B. Sudarsan Patro was one of those few, and this is the picture he took from the Bharati Indian Base Station in Antarctica's Larsemann Hills:


"We had a beautiful view of the big Moon rising above the frozen landscape," he says. "I feel so lucky to be here!"

Located 50,000 km closer to Earth, the supermoon of Nov. 14th was 14% bigger and 30% brighter than lesser full moons of the past.  It was so bright, it did something usually reserved for the sun. It made a rainbow:


Alex Conu sends this photo from Reine in the Lofoten Islands of Norway. "I wanted to shoot the supermoon rising yesterday, but the weather was against me--or so I thought," he says. "Around 10 PM, I got a huge hole in the clouds.  A shaft of moonlight shot through the gap and made a rainbow in the fjord--a supermoonbow!"

"Moonbows are identical to normal rainbows, the only difference being the light source," Conu adds. "This one was a beauty."

It was also cloudy in the French Alps when the supermoon rose. "I walked up the top of the Jura mountain to get above the clouds," says Sylvain Chapeland. "After enjoying a colorful sunset, I was surprised by an odd-looking moon, almost rectangular."


"I regularly see deformations of the moon and sun at this site when there are strong temperature inversion layers, but this one was really impressive!" says Chapeland. "Definitely worth walking 2 hours in the snow."

More views of the supermoon may be found in the realtime photo gallery:

Realtime Space Weather Photo Gallery

Realtime Aurora 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. 15, 2016, the network reported 64 fireballs.
(53 sporadics, 8 Northern Taurids, 2 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 15, 2016 there were 1741 potentially hazardous asteroids.

Recent & Upcoming Earth-asteroid encounters:Asteroid


Miss Distance


2016 VN3

Nov 12

6.1 LD

25 m

2016 VX1

Nov 13

5.2 LD

40 m

2016 UB107

Nov 14

8.4 LD

42 m

2016 VE4

Nov 15

5.2 LD

23 m

2016 VK2

Nov 16

11.3 LD

42 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

2015 YQ1

Dec 21

6.2 LD

11 m

2006 BZ7

Dec 22

74.5 LD

1.4 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: 480.5 km/sec
density: 2.3 protons/cm3

more data: ACEDSCOVR
Updated: Today at 2053 UTX-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: B4
1658 UT Nov15
24-hr: B6 0035 UT Nov15
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2100 UTDaily Sun: 15 Nov 16Neither of these sunspots poses a threat for strong solar flares. Credit: SDO/HMI

Sunspot number: 26
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 15 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 15 Nov 2016

The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 77 sfu

explanation | more data
Updated 15 Nov 2016

Current Auroral Oval:


Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
Credit: NOAA/OvationPlanetary K-index
Now: Kp= 1 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 3
explanation | more data
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 3.2 nT
Bz: 1.0 nT north

more data: ACEDSCOVR
Updated: Today at 2052 UTCoronal Holes: 15 Nov 16
There are no large coronal holes on the Earth-facing side of the sun. 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 14 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 14 2200 UTCMid-latitudes

0-24 hr

24-48 hr


10 %

10 %


01 %

01 %


01 %

01 %

High latitudes

0-24 hr

24-48 hr


15 %

15 %


15 %

15 %


10 %

10 %