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SpaceWeather.com -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
 
Solar wind
speed: 341.0 km/sec
density: 5.7 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2346 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: C1
1747 UT Dec09
24-hr: C1
1747 UT Dec09
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2300 UT
Daily Sun: 09 Dec 12
None of the sunspots on the Earthside of the sun are actively flaring, but AR1629 is growing rapidly and could soon break the quiet. Credit: SDO/HMI
Sunspot number: 35
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 09 Dec 2012

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 0 days
2012 total: 0 days (0%)
2011 total: 2 days (<1%)
2010 total: 51 days (14%)
2009 total: 260 days (71%)
Since 2004: 821 days
Typical Solar Min: 486 days

Update 09 Dec 2012


The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 101 sfu
explanation | more data
Updated 09 Dec 2012

Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
Credit: NOAA/POES
Planetary K-index
Now: Kp= 1 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 1
quiet
explanation | more data
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 2.0 nT
Bz: 0.7 nT south
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2347 UT
Coronal Holes: 09 Dec 12
There are no large coronal holes on the Earthside of the sun. Credit: SDO/AIA.
SPACE WEATHER
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2012 Dec 09 2200 UTC
FLARE
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
CLASS M
05 %
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: 2012 Dec 09 2200 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
15 %
15 %
MINOR
15 %
10 %
SEVERE
05 %
05 %
 
Sunday, Dec. 9, 2012
What's up in space
 

Hang the Transit of Venus on your wall! Hubble-quality images from NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory are now available as metallic posters in the Space Weather Store.

 
Venus Transit metal posters

SIR PATRICK MOORE, 1923-2012: British astronomer and broadcaster Sir Patrick Moore died on Dec. 9, 2012, at the age of 89. Knighted for his dedication to astronomy outreach, the monocled host of BBC's The Sky at Night inspired millions of lay people to look at the sky and a fair number of children to grow up to be professional scientists. RIP to a great astronomer.

AMAZING STRATOSPHERIC CLOUDS OVER EUROPE: When the sun set over the UK on Dec. 9th, sky watchers were stunned by an unexpected apparition of super-colorful stratospheric clouds. "They were amazing to see and a dream come true to photograph," reports Lesley Jennings of Fraserburgh, Aberdeenshire, Scotland. "There were all sorts of colors. I've never see the like before!" added Rachael Taylor also from Aberdeenshire. Nigel Feilden photographed this specimen from Inverurie, Scotland:

"These are nacreous clouds," explains atmospheric optics expert Les Cowley. "Of all Earth's clouds they are most spectacular, and a very rare treat for skywatchers."

"For up to an hour after sunset or before dawn they glow like eerie electric discharges or gas jets in the darkening sky, their filmy shapes slowly curling and uncurling with intense shifting colors. They are composed of tiny ice crystals more than twice as high as ordinary clouds, 9-16 miles up, in the stratosphere and form at temperatures of minus 85 Celsius and below. The crystals are all of similar size and they diffract the high altitude sunlight to make the colours."

"Search for nacreous clouds at high latitudes (e.g., Scotland, Scandinavia, Iceland, Northern US) in winter and preferably downwind of mountains," Cowley advises. "They like stormy weather that perhaps creates gravity waves to loft the necessary moisture to make them upwards across the tropopause into the stratosphere. Once seen they are never forgotten!"

Realtime Nacreous Cloud Photo Gallery

BIG ASTEROID FLYBY: Large near-Earth asteroid 4179 Toutatis is flying past Earth this week. At closest approach on Dec. 12th, it will be 7 million km away, or 18 times farther than the Moon. Astronomers are taking advantage of the flyby to learn more about the asteroid's orbit, shape, and topography. Here are a few shadowy images of the asteroid illuminated by NASA's Goldstone radar in the Mojave desert:

Measuring 5 km in length, Toutatis is one of the largest known potentially hazardous asteroids (PHAs) and its orbit is inclined less than half-a-degree from Earth's. No other kilometer-sized PHA moves around the Sun in an orbit so nearly coplanar with our own. This makes it an important target for asteroid studies.

Fortunately, there is no danger of a collision with Toutatis for hundreds of years. Radar observations should improve researchers' ability to predict the asteroid's trajectory even farther into the future. Goldstone will pinging Toutatis from now until Dec. 22nd. Stay tuned for daily updates.

Realtime Space Weather Photo Gallery

ANOTHER ERUPTION MISSES EARTH: Magnetic fields around departing sunspot AR1621 became unstable and erupted during the late hours of Dec. 7th, hurling a bulb of plasma off the sun's western limb. NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory recorded its departure:

Earth was not in the line of fire. No auroras or other space weather effects will be felt as a result of the blast.

Overall, solar activity is very low. The face of the sun is nearly blank (few sunspots) and NOAA forecasters estimate a slight 1% chance of strong flares during the next 24 hours. Solar flare alerts: text, voice.

Realtime Space Weather Photo Gallery


Realtime Aurora Photo Gallery


Realtime Noctilucent Cloud Photo Gallery
[previous years: 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011]

  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 9, 2012 there were potentially hazardous asteroids.
Recent & Upcoming Earth-asteroid encounters:
Asteroid
Date(UT)
Miss Distance
Size
2009 BS5
Dec 11
8.4 LD
15 m
4179 Toutatis
Dec 12
18 LD
2.7 km
2012 XM16
Dec 16
3.1 LD
31 m
2003 SD220
Dec 23
59.8 LD
1.8 km
1998 WT24
Dec 23
69.2 LD
1.1 km
1999 HA2
Feb 5
58 LD
1.3 km
3752 Camillo
Feb 12
57.5 LD
3.4 km
1999 YK5
Feb 15
49.1 LD
2.1 km
2012 DA14
Feb 15
0.09 LD
57 m
2009 AV
Feb 25
59.7 LD
1.0 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.
  Essential web 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 Dynamics Observatory
  Researchers call it a "Hubble for the sun." SDO is the most advanced solar observatory ever.
STEREO
  3D views of the sun from NASA's Solar and Terrestrial Relations Observatory
Solar and Heliospheric Observatory
  Realtime and archival images of the Sun from SOHO.
Daily Sunspot Summaries
  from the NOAA Space Environment Center
Heliophysics
  the underlying science of space weather
Space Weather Alerts
   
  more links...
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