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SpaceWeather.com -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids

SpaceWeather.com
Science news and information about the Sun-Earth environment.

SPACE WEATHER
Current
Conditions

Solar Wind
speed: 643.6 km/s
density:
0.9 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2246 UT

X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max:
B3 1830 UT Jan04
24-hr: B3 1830 UT Jan04
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2245 UT

Daily Sun: 04 Jan '07

Returning sunspot 930 sparked intense auroras in mid-December, but it no longer poses a threat for strong solar flares. Credit:
SOHO/MDI

Sunspot Number: 38
What is the sunspot number?
Updated: 03 Jan 2007

Far Side of the Sun

This holographic image reveals no large sunspots on the far side of the sun. Image credit: SOHO/MDI

Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 4.1 nT
Bz:
0.2 nT south
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2247 UT

Coronal Holes:

Earth is inside a solar wind stream flowing from the indicated coronal hole. Credit: SOHO Extreme UV Telescope


SPACE WEATHER
NOAA
Forecasts

Solar Flares: Probabilities for a medium-sized (M-class) or a major (X-class) solar flare during the next 24/48 hours are tabulated below.
Updated at 2007 Jan 04 2204 UTC
FLARE 0-24 hr 24-48 hr
CLASS M 01 % 01 %
CLASS X 01 % 01 %

Geomagnetic Storms: Probabilities for significant disturbances in Earth's magnetic field are given for three activity levels: active, minor storm, severe storm
Updated at 2007 Jan 04 2204 UTC
Mid-latitudes
0-24 hr 24-48 hr
ACTIVE 15 % 15 %
MINOR 10 % 10 %
SEVERE 01 % 01 %

High latitudes
0-24 hr 24-48 hr
ACTIVE 20 % 15 %
MINOR 10 % 10 %
SEVERE 01 % 01 %

What's Up in Space -- 4 Jan 2007
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Did you sleep through the auroras of Dec. 14th? Next time get a wake-up call: Spaceweather PHONE.

DENVER FIREBALL: Something from space disintegrated over Denver, Colorado, this morning around 6:20 am MST (1320 UT). Witnesses describe it as "brilliant, slow, twinkling, sparkly and full of rainbow colors." It was not a meteor. The fireball was the decaying body of a Soyuz U rocket that launched the French COROT space telescope on Dec. 27th. The re-entry caused no damage on the ground--just a beautiful display in the sky. More: news video, ground track, amateur photo.

HOT COMET: Comet McNaught (C/2006 P1) is plunging toward the Sun. It won't hit, but at closest approach on Jan. 13th it will be only 0.17 AU away--much closer than Mercury (0.38 AU). When the hot comet emerges later this month it could be brighter than a 1st-magnitude star. Or not. No one knows what will happen.

Meanwhile, you can see the comet with your own eyes:


Photo details: Nikon D70, 300mm f/5.6 lens, 800 ASA, 1s exp

"This morning (Jan. 3rd) the comet was faintly visible to the naked eye before sunrise at an altitude of 4 degrees (the sun was 10 degrees below the horizon)," reports photographer Haakon Dahle of Fjellhamar, Norway. "The photo," he says, "resembles the view through binoculars." More information: finder chart, ephemeris, 3D orbit.

Soon, the comet will be too close to the Sun to see--unless you're SOHO. From Jan. 11th to 15th, the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory will monitor the comet-Sun encounter using its onboard coronagraph. A date of note is Jan. 14th when Comet McNaught passes less than a degree from the planet Mercury. Join SOHO for a ringside seat.

TAKING AIM: Last week the sun was blank, but not this week. A parade of planet-sized sunspots is marching across the solar disk. Not one of them has the kind of unstable magnetic field that leads to explosive solar flares--but they are big and photogenic:

"I took this picture on Jan. 2nd using my Coronado SolarMax90," says Greg Piepol of Rockville, Maryland. In the foreground, he silouetted his telescope for dramatic affect. "I call it 'Taking Aim.'"

more images: from Franck Charlier of Marines, Val d'Oise - France.



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 4 Jan 2007 there were 832 known Potentially
Hazardous Asteroids

Jan 2007 Earth-asteroid encounters
ASTEROID

 DATE
(UT)

MISS DISTANCE

MAG.

 SIZE
2006 UQ17

Jan. 2

11 LD

16

175 m
1991 VK

Jan. 21

26 LD

15

2.0 km
5011 Ptah

Jan. 21

77 LD

15

1.6 km
2006 CJ

Jan. 31

10 LD

~16

385 m
2006 AM4

Feb. 1

5.2 LD

16

180 m
Notes: LD is a "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.

Essential Web Links

NOAA Space Environment Center -- The official U.S. government bureau for real-time monitoring of solar and geophysical events, research in solar-terrestrial physics, and forecasting solar and geophysical disturbances.

Atmospheric Optics -- the first place to look for information about sundogs, pillars, rainbows and related phenomena.

Solar and Heliospheric Observatory -- Realtime and archival images of the Sun from SOHO. (European Mirror Site)

Daily Sunspot Summaries -- from the NOAA Space Environment Center.

Current Solar Images -- from the National Solar Data Analysis Center

X-ray images of the Sun: GOES-12 and GOES-13

Recent Solar Events -- a summary of current solar conditions from lmsal.com.

What is the Magnetosphere?

The Lion Roars -- visit this site to find out what the magnetosphere sounds like.

List of Potentially Hazardous Asteroids -- from the Harvard Minor Planet Center.

Observable Comets -- from the Harvard Minor Planet Center.

Real-time Solar Wind Data -- from NASA's ACE spacecraft.

How powerful are solar wind gusts? Not very! Read this story from Science@NASA.

More Real-time Solar Wind Data -- from the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory Proton Monitor.

Lists of Coronal Mass Ejections -- from 1996 to 2006

Mirages: Mirages in Finland; An Introduction to Mirages;

NOAA Solar Flare and Sunspot Data: 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999; 2000; 2001; 2002; 2003; 2004; 2005; Jan-Mar 2006; Apr-Jun 2006; Jul-Sep 2006; Oct-Dec 2006.

This site is penned daily by Dr. Tony Phillips: email


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