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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Current conditions
Solar wind
speed: 303.5 km/sec
density: 1.1 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2346 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A0
2350 UT Nov30
24-hr: A0
0125 UT Nov30
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2350 UT
Daily Sun: 08 Dec. 09
The sun is blank--no sunspots. Credit: SOHO/MDI
Sunspot number: 0
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 07 Dec 2009

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 15 days
2009 total: 258 days (76%)
Since 2004: 769 days
Typical Solar Min: 485 days
explanation | more info
Updated 07 Dec 2009

Far side of the Sun:
This holographic image reveals no large sunspots on the far side of the sun. Image credit: SOHO/MDI
Planetary K-index
Now: Kp= 0 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 0
explanation | more data
Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 2.8 nT
Bz: 2.1 nT north
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2346 UT
Coronal Holes:
There are no coronal holes on the Earth-facing side of the sun. Credit: SOHO Extreme UV Telescope
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2009 Dec 08 2201 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
01 %
01 %
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 08 2201 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
05 %
05 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
05 %
05 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
What's up in Space
December 8, 2009

SPACESHIP SIGHTINGS: Would you like a call when the space station is about to fly over your backyard? Sign up for Spaceweather PHONE.


GEMINID METEOR SHOWER: Mark your calendar. The Geminid meteor shower peaks on Dec. 13th and 14th when Earth passes through a stream of debris from extinct comet 3200 Phaethon. The Geminids have been intensifying in recent years, and 2009 could be the best year yet. Forecasters expect 140+ meteors per hour under the dark skies of a new Moon. [sky map]

ERUPTIVE PROMINENCE: December began with an enormous magnetic filament wrapped around the sun's south pole. On Friday, Dec. 4th, it erupted. NASA's twin STEREO probes, stationed on nearly opposite sides of the sun, photographed the blast from two points of view. Click on the image to set the scene in motion:

1 MB Quicktime movie

Astronomers have been monitoring eruptive prominences like this one for decades, but only now are they getting the 3D view provided by STEREO. "[In the past], we really had no idea in what plane the center of mass of the eruptive material was moving," says Joe Gurman of the Solar Physics Lab at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. But look again at the STEREO movie, particularly at the right-hand image. "The material is heading from high latitudes toward the solar equator," he notes. The dynamics of these massive events are becoming clear at last.

More eruptions may be found in the STEREO gallery.

BEAM ME UP, SCOTTY: It was snowing lightly in Harney County, Oregon, yesterday when a brilliant column of light came lancing out of the clouds. "It was like Beam me up, Scotty!" says Raven, who witnessed the event. "The light came through a hole in the clouds and went all the way down to the desert floor."

The name of this phenomenon is "lower sun pillar." It is caused by sunlight mixed with ice: Plate-shaped ice crystals flutter down from the clouds like leaves falling from trees. Air resistance causes the crystals' broad faces to line up in the horizontal direction, creating many little mirrors to intercept and reflect the rays of the sun overhead.

Sun pillars are usually of the upper variety. Lower pillars appear on rare occasions when the sun is blocked by icy clouds and the observer is on a high perch. Raven took her picture from a hillside at 4200 feet.

Is it snowing where you live? Ice in the air mixed with sunlight can produce a variety of luminous forms. Be alert for things under the sun.

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 8, 2009 there were 1085 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Dec. 2009 Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
2009 WV25
Dec. 1
2.9 LD
65 m
2009 WA52
Dec. 5
8.2 LD
23 m
2002 WP
Dec. 6
71.2 LD
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.
  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...
©2008, -- This site is penned daily by Dr. Tony Phillips.













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