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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: 344.4 km/sec
density: 1.7 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2344 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: C1
2145 UT Dec16
24-hr: C4
0120 UT Dec16
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2340 UT
Daily Sun: 16 Dec. 09
New sunspot 1035 is growing rapidly and poses a threat for M-class solar flares. It is a member of new Solar Cycle 24. Credit: SOHO/MDI
Sunspot number: 38
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 15 Dec 2009

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 0 days
2009 total: 259 days (74%)
Since 2004: 770 days
Typical Solar Min: 485 days
explanation | more info
Updated 15 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= 2
quiet
explanation | more data
Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
Credit: NOAA/POES
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 4.1 nT
Bz: 1.1 nT north
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2346 UT
Coronal Holes:
There are no large coronal holes on the Earth-facing side of the sun. Credit: SOHO Extreme UV Telescope
SPACE WEATHER
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2009 Dec 16 2201 UTC
FLARE
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
CLASS M
10 %
10 %
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 16 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 16, 2009

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

 

INCOMING CME: This morning at 0120 UT, an eruption of magnetic fields around sunspot 1035 produced a long-duration C4-class solar flare and hurled a coronal mass ejection (CME) in the general direction of Earth. High-latitude sky watchers should prepare for auroras when the CME arrives on or about Dec. 18th. STEREO movies: solar flare, CME.

BIG NEW SUNSPOT: New sunspot 1035 is growing rapidly and it is now seven times wider than Earth. This makes it an easy target for backyard solar telescopes. Yesterday, Rogerio Marcon of Campinas, Brazil, photographed a maelstrom of hot plasma and magnetic filaments connecting the sunspot's dark cores:

"Solar activity is picking up," he says.

The magnetic polarity of the spot identifies it as a member of Solar Cycle 24--the cycle we've been waiting for to end the deepest solar minimum in nearly a century. One spot isn't enough to end the lull, but sunspot 1035 could herald bigger things to come. Stay tuned for updates.

sunspot photos: from Etienne Lecoq of Normandy, France; from Jean-Paul Rroux at the Pic du Midi Observatory; from Vahan Yeterian of Lompoc, California; from G.Harmon et al of South Portland, Maine; from John C McConnell of Maghaberry Northern Ireland; from Tom King of Watauga, Texas; from John Nassr of Baguio, Philippines; from David Gradwell of Birr Ireland

MONSTER FIREBALL: On Monday morning, Dec. 14th, at 3:59 am Pacific Standard Time, a piece of extinct comet 3200 Phaethon hit Earth's atmosphere over the Mojave desert in California. This was the result:


copyright: Wally Pacholka / AstroPics.com / TWAN

"It was a monster fireball," says photographer Wally Pacholka. "I caught it exploding over the Hercules Finger rock formation near Victorville, California, using a Canon 35 mm camera. This was one of 1522 photographs I took "

The fireball occurred during the Geminid meteor shower, which peaked on Dec. 13th and 14th when Earth passed through a stream of debris from 3200 Phaethon. In some places, people saw 200+ Geminids per hour. In the Mojave desert, one was enough! Browse the gallery for more:

UPDATED: 2009 Geminid Meteor Gallery
[sky map] [meteor radar] [Geminid counts]


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 16, 2009 there were 1089 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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