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SpaceWeather.com -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
SPACE WEATHER
Current conditions
Solar wind
speed: 357.4 km/sec
density: 6.8 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2344 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A7
2310 UT Dec23
24-hr: C5
1015 UT Dec23
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2340 UT
Daily Sun: 23 Dec. 09
Sunspots 1036 and 1038 are members of new Solar Cycle 24. Image credit: SOHO/MDI
Sunspot number: 26
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 22 Dec 2009

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 0 days
2009 total: 259 days (73%)
Since 2004: 770 days
Typical Solar Min: 485 days
explanation | more info
Updated 22 Dec 2009

Far side of the Sun:
This holographic image reveals no sunspots on the far side of the sun. Image credit: SOHO/MDI
Planetary K-index
Now: Kp= 0 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 1
quiet
explanation | more data
Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
Credit: NOAA/POES
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 6.0 nT
Bz: 0.7 nT north
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2345 UT
Coronal Holes:
A solar wind stream flowing from the indicated coronal hole could buffet Earth's magnetic field later today. Credit: SOHO Extreme UV Telescope
SPACE WEATHER
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2009 Dec 23 2201 UTC
FLARE
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
CLASS M
10 %
05 %
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: 2009 Dec 23 2201 UTC
Mid-latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
ACTIVE
05 %
05 %
MINOR
01 %
01 %
SEVERE
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
ACTIVE
05 %
05 %
MINOR
01 %
01 %
SEVERE
01 %
01 %
What's up in Space
December 23, 2009

ASTRONOMY ALERTS: Looking for a unique and affordable gift? Give the heavens for Christmas at Spaceweather PHONE.

 

BIG INTERSTELLAR DISCOVERY: The solar system is passing through an interstellar cloud that physics says should not exist. In the Dec. 24th issue of Nature, a team of scientists reveal how NASA's Voyager spacecraft have solved the mystery. Get the full story from Science@NASA.

SOLAR ACTIVITY: Yesterday, Dec. 22nd at approximately 0455 UT, magnetic fields around sunspot 1036 erupted, producing a C7-class solar flare. NASA's STEREO-A spacecraft was almost directly above the sunspot at the time of the blast and recorded this extreme ultraviolet movie:

The shadowy wave racing away from the blast site is a "solar tsunami"--a swell of hot, magnetized plasma about 100,000 km high packing as much energy as a million megatons of TNT. The tsunami petered out before it went more than halfway around the sun, but another manifestation of the blast is still going. The eruption hurled a faint coronal mass ejection (CME) into space and the billion-ton cloud should cross Earth's orbit on or about Dec. 25th. A glancing blow to Earth's magnetic field could spark polar auroras for Christmas.

more images: from Pete Lawrence of Selsey, West Sussex, UK; from C. Swiger and J. Stetson of South Portland, Maine; from Robert Arnold of Isle of Skye, Scotland

SNOW FLAKES: The industrial district of Marl, Germany, isn't known for its natural beauty or outdoor photo-ops. But maybe that's because people just haven't been looking closely enough. On Dec. 18th, resident Martina Borchert discovered this scene in her own backyard:

"These crystals landed on top of a rusty old bird feeder," she says. "Normally they would have melted instantly, but the temperature outside was -4 C, and that gave me time to arrange a photo shoot using my Canon EOS 350D and a 60mm macro lens. Two hours and one cold nose later, I stored more than 800 snapshots on my hard drive!" Here is a selection of the best: #1, #2, #3, #4.

Snowflake photography requires patience ("I have been chasing these shots since 2005," says Martina), endurance ("By the end of the session, my fingers were snow white and my nose was Carddinal red," she adds), and good luck ("The rare combination of frigid cold and snow was perfect on Dec. 18th"). Martina's photos show that all these things can come together--even in the industrial district.


December Northern Lights Gallery
[previous Decembers: 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2001, 2000]


Explore the Sunspot Cycle

       
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 December 23, 2009 there were 1090 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Dec. 2009 Earth-asteroid encounters:
Asteroid
Date(UT)
Miss Distance
Mag.
Size
2009 WV25
Dec. 1
2.9 LD
16
65 m
2009 WA52
Dec. 5
8.2 LD
20
23 m
2002 WP
Dec. 6
71.2 LD
16
950 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.
Essential Links
NOAA Space Weather Prediction Center
  The official U.S. government space weather bureau
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.
STEREO
  3D views of the sun from NASA's Solar and Terrestrial Relations Observatory
Daily Sunspot Summaries
  from the NOAA Space Environment Center
Current Solar Images
  from the National Solar Data Analysis Center
Science Central
   
  more links...
   
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