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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: 437.0 km/sec
density: 1.7 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2346 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A0
2345 UT Jan01
24-hr: A0
2345 UT Jan01
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2345 UT
Daily Sun: 01 Jan 09
The sun is blank, but a new-cycle sunspot may be emerging in the sun's northern hemisphere. Its location is circled in this magnetogram. Credit: SOHO/MDI

more images: from Matthias Juergens of Gnevsdorf, Germany; from Stefano Sello of Pisa, Italy; from Peter Desypris of Athens, Greece
Sunspot number: 0
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 31 Dec. 2008
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= 3
quiet
explanation | more data
Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
Credit: NOAA/POES
What is the auroral oval?
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 5.7 nT
Bz: 0.5 nT north
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2347 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
Updated at: 2009 Jan 01 2201 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: 2009 Jan 01 2201 UTC
Mid-latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
ACTIVE
20 %
15 %
MINOR
10 %
05 %
SEVERE
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
ACTIVE
30 %
20 %
MINOR
15 %
10 %
SEVERE
01 %
01 %
What's up in Space
January 1, 2009

AURORA ALERT: Did you sleep through the northern lights? Next time get a wake-up call: Spaceweather PHONE.

 

SPACE WEATHER RADIO: For the new year, we are pleased to announce a new service: Space Weather Radio, streaming live "sounds from space" around the clock. Today the soundtrack is a space surveillance radar, pinging every time a meteor passes overhead. Tomorrow it could be solar radio bursts or VLF signals from the ionosphere--whatever's newsworthy. The streams are punctuated by Daily Space Weather Updates from Dr. Tony Phillips. Give it a try and let us know what you think.

FIRST METEORS OF 2009: The annual Quadrantid meteor shower peaks on Jan. 3rd when Earth enters a stream of debris from shattered comet 2003 EH1. The timing of the encounter favors observers in western North America who could see dozens to hundreds of meteors during the dark hours before dawn on Saturday morning: sky map.

The Quadrantids are a northern hemisphere shower--the farther north, the better. During last year's display, a team of astronomers flew above the Arctic Circle; here is what they saw through the window of their airplane:

Jeremie Vaubaillon of Caltech created the composite image, which shows more than a dozen Quadrantids flying through the aurora borealis. This year's shower is expected to be just as intense.

Cold winter weather often discourages people from going outside to observe this fine shower. Are you one of them? Tune into Spaceweather Radio for live audio from the Air Force Space Surveillance Radar. Listening to Quadrantid radar echos is a fun way to experience the shower--no parka required.

MYSTERY PILLARS: "The air was very cold and filled with small ice crystals on Dec. 28th when we saw these strange pillars of light," reports Aigar Truhin of Sigulda, Latvia. "My son exclaimed, The aliens are coming!" It certainly looked that way." Truhin snapped this picture using his Nikon D90:


Photo details: Nikon D90, 5 sec. exposure @ ISO 200-640 [more]

Many people have seen light pillars. They appear during winter when city lights shine upward into the icy air. Reflections from plate-shaped crystals spread the light into a vertical column: examples.

Truhin's pillars, however, are not the ordinary kind. Even two leading experts in atmospheric optics can't quite figure them out: "These pillars are mysterious," say Les Cowley and Marko Riikonen. "They have unexplained curved tops and even curved arcs coming from their base. Arcs in rare displays like these could be from column crystals to give parts of tangent arcs, others could be the enigmatic Moilanan arc or even the recently discovered reflected Parry arc. We do not know – so take more photos on cold nights!"


Dec. 2008 Aurora Gallery
[Previous Decembers: 2007, 2006, 2005, 2001, 2000]

       
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 January 1, 2009 there were 1013 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Dec. 2008 Earth-asteroid encounters:
Asteroid
Date(UT)
Miss Distance
Mag.
Size
2008 WY94
Dec. 5
3.2 LD
19
35 m
2008 WG14
Dec. 5
4.8 LD
17
49 m
2008 XK
Dec. 6
1.7 LD
17
15 m
2008 XC1
Dec. 12
4.3 LD
16
102 m
2008 XB2
Dec. 13
5.8 LD
18
47 m
2006 VB14
Dec. 14
36 LD
15
795 m
2008 EV5
Dec. 23
8.4 LD
13
435 m
2008 YQ2
Dec. 24
8.6 LD
18
49 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
  a one-stop hub for all things scientific
  more links...
   
©2008, SpaceWeather.com -- This site is penned daily by Dr. Tony Phillips.
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