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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Current conditions
Solar wind
speed: 517.0 km/sec
density: 0.9 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2246 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: C1
2200 UT Dec13
24-hr: C3
1000 UT Dec13
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2245 UT
Daily Sun: 13 Dec 07
Sunspot 978 has developed a beta-gamma magnetic field that harbors energy for M-class solar flares. Credit: SOHO/MDI
Sunspot number: 39
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 11 Dec 2007
Far side of the Sun:
This holographic image shows no large sunspots on the farside of the sun. Image credit: SOHO/MDI
Planetary K-index
Now: Kp= 1 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 2
explanation | more data
Current Auroral Oval:

Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
Updated: 2007 Dec 13 2101 UT
What is the auroral oval?
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 3.8 nT
Bz: 0.7 nT north
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2247 UT
Coronal Holes:
Earth is inside a solar wind stream flowing from the indicated coronal hole. Credit: Hinode X-ray Telescope
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2007 Dec 13 2203 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
10 %
10 %
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: 2007 Dec 13 2203 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
10 %
10 %
05 %
05 %
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
10 %
10 %
05 %
05 %
01 %
01 %

What's up in Space
December 13, 2007
Where's Saturn? Is that a UFO--or the ISS? What's the name of that star? Get the answers from mySKY--a fun new astronomy helper from Meade.

METEOR SHOWER: The annual Geminid meteor shower peaks tonight. The best time to look is between midnight and dawn. People who go outside a few hours before sunrise on Friday could see dozens to hundreds of shooting stars. As usual, the display will be best from dark-sky sites away from city lights. Even from urban areas, however, some bright Geminids will be seen. Set your alarm! [full story] [sky map] [gallery]

LISTEN! Last night in New Mexico, amateur radio astronomer Thomas Ashcraft recorded a radio echo from the ionized trail of a Geminid fireball as the bright meteor flew over his observatory. Turn up the volume and click here. [more]

SUNSPOT 978: Giant sunspot 978 hasn't exploded yet, but it is seething with activity. Witness this video recorded by Gary Palmer of Los Angeles on Dec. 11th:

"There is a magnetic filament that seems to leapfrog over the leading spot," he points out. "Isn't Mother Nature wonderful!"

Sunspot 978 continues to grow: movie. It now covers an expanse of Sun about as wide as the planet Jupiter, making it a fine target for backyard solar telescopes (Palmer used a Coronado SolarMax90). It has also developed a "beta-gamma" magnetic field that harbors energy for M-class solar flares. Will it erupt? Stay tuned!

more images: from John Nassr of Baguio, Philippines; from Malcolm Park of London, UK; from Pete Lawrence of Selsey, West Sussex, UK; from Paul Haese of Blackwoo, South Australia;

TUMBLING ROCKET: On Dec. 10th, shortly after lofting a classified satellite into Earth orbit for the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office, the upper stage of an Atlas V rocket dumped its excess fuel in plain view of sky watchers on both sides of the Atlantic. While most onlookers were mesmerized by the comet-like cloud, Peter Lardizabal of Jacksonville, Florida, trained his telescope on the rocket itself:

"This is a 1.6 second exposure with a Canon 30D attached to my 4-inch TeleVue NP-101 telescope," explains Lardizabal. The photo shows "a portion of the booster tumbling through space alternating between brightly- and poorly-reflecting surfaces."

Considering that it was classified, this satellite launch was remarkably well observed. Keep looking up!

Comet 17P/Holmes Photo Gallery
[Interactive World Map of Comet Photos]
[sky map] [ephemeris] [3D orbit] [Night Sky Cameras]

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 13, 2007 there were 911 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Dec-Jan Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
2007 XZ9
Dec. 1
8.1 LD
45 m
2007 VD184
Dec. 9
7.8 LD
95 m
3200 Phaethon
Dec. 10
47 LD
5 km
2007 TU24
Jan. 29
1.4 LD
405 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 bureau for real-time monitoring of solar and geophysical events, research in solar-terrestrial physics, and forecasting solar and geophysical disturbances.
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.
Daily Sunspot Summaries
  From the NOAA Space Environment Center
Current Solar Images
  from the National Solar Data Analysis Center
  more links...
©2007, -- This site is penned daily by Dr. Tony Phillips.
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