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Solar wind
speed: 444.6 km/sec
density: 1.0 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2346 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: B7
2300 UT Dec15
24-hr: C2
0913 UT Dec15
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2300 UT
Daily Sun: 15 Dec 13
Sunspots AR1917 and AR1918 have 'beta-gamma' magnetic fields that harbor energy for M-class solar flares. Credit: SDO/HMI
Sunspot number: 163
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 15 Dec 2013

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 0 days
2013 total: 0 days (0%)
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

15 Dec 2013

The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 164 sfu
explanation | more data
Updated 15 Dec 2013

Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
Planetary K-index
Now: Kp= 1 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 3
explanation | more data
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 7.6 nT
Bz: 0.1 nT north
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2347 UT
Coronal Holes: 15 Dec 13
Earth is inside a stream of solar wind flowing from the indicated coronal hole. Credit: SDO/AIA. posts daily satellite images of noctilucent clouds (NLCs), which hover over Earth's poles at the edge of space. The data come from NASA's AIM spacecraft. The north polar "daisy" pictured below is a composite of near-realtime images from AIM assembled by researchers at the University of Colorado's Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (LASP).
Noctilucent Clouds
Switch view: Europe, USA, Asia, Polar
Updated at: 12-15-2013 10:55:02
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2013 Dec 15 2200 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
25 %
25 %
05 %
05 %
Geomagnetic Storms:
Probabilities for significant disturbances in Earth's magnetic field are given for three activity levels: active, minor storm, severe storm
Updated at: 2013 Dec 15 2200 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
05 %
05 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
15 %
15 %
15 %
15 %
05 %
05 %
Sunday, Dec. 15, 2013
What's up in space

Listen to radar echoes from satellites and meteors, live on listener-supported Space Weather Radio.

Spaceweather Radio is on the air

CHANCE OF FLARES: A pair of Earth-facing sunspots, AR1917 and AR1918, have 'beta-gamma' magnetic fields that harbor energy for moderately strong solar flares. Any eruptions from the duo in the days ahead would likely be geoeffective. NOAA forecasters estimate a 30% chance of M-class flares during the next 24 hours. Solar flare alerts: text, voice

CHINA LANDS ON THE MOON: Move over USA and Russia. China has joined the club of nations that has landed on the Moon. On Saturday, Dec. 14th, at 9:41 p.m. Beijing local time, China's Chang’e-3 lunar lander touched down in Sinus Iridum, the Bay of Rainbows. Hours later, a lunar rover named the Jade Rabbit ("Yutu" in Mandarin Chinese) emerged for a historic mission of exploration:

Click to view more pictures from the lunar surface

The six-wheeled, 260-lb rover is equipped with a Chinese-made nuclear battery expected to last for more than 30 years. The rover also has expandable solar arrays to absorb the sun’s energy during the day and retract at night to cover and protect equipment from temperatures of minus 170 degrees Celsius. Onboard sensors include a ground-probing radar, cameras, and a soil sampler.

The United States has not performed a soft landing on the Moon since 1972 when Apollo 17 delivered astronauts Gene Cernan and Jack Schmitt to the Taurus-Littrow valley. The former USSR last did it in 1976 with the sample return mission Luna 24.

Now, after a surprising 37-year gap in lunar ground exploration, China has started making its own tracks in the moondust. Congratulations to the people of China for their successful landing and lunar ambitions.

GEMINIDS SUBSIDING: The Geminid meteor shower is subsiding now as Earth exits a stream of debris from rock comet 3200 Phaethon. Preliminary counts by the International Meteor Organization suggest that the shower peaked on Dec. 14th with more than 100 meteors per hour. Bright moonlight reduced the visibility of many faint meteors. Fortunately, the shower was rich in fireballs like this one:

Amateur astronomer Thomas Ashcraft recorded the fireball using an all-sky camera and a 61 MHz radio receiver. Watch the movie again and turn up the volume. The soundtrack is the echo of a distant TV transmission bouncing off the ionized trail of the disintegrating meteoroid. "By listening to the radio echoes, I could tell there was a strong display of meteors all through the night," says Ashcraft. "We were lucky that some Geminid fireballs appeared through holes in our cloudy skies."

The shower is subsiding, but it's not over. Earth will be inside the debris stream of 3200 Phaethon for some days to come. Look west during the magic hour before sunrise, and you still could see dozens of Geminids between now and Dec. 16th.

Realtime Meteor Photo Gallery

EDGE OF SPACE CHRISTMAS CARDS: What do you give to the sky watcher who has everything? How about a Christmas card from the Edge of Space? For only $49.95, the students of Earth to Sky Calculus will fly your holiday greeting or favorite picture to the top of Earth's atmosphere, photograph it, and return the snapshot in time for the holidays. It's a unique gift! The group has previously flown cupcakes, shoes, US presidents, ad banners and telescopes. This holiday magic is performed using suborbital helium balloons. Contact Dr. Tony Phillips for more information.

Realtime Space Weather Photo Gallery

Realtime Aurora Photo Gallery

Comet ISON Photo Gallery

Realtime Comet Photo Gallery

  All Sky Fireball Network

Every night, a network of NASA all-sky cameras scans the skies above the United States for meteoritic fireballs. Automated software maintained by NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office calculates their orbits, velocity, penetration depth in Earth's atmosphere and many other characteristics. Daily results are presented here on

On Dec. 15, 2013, the network reported 52 fireballs.
( 30 Geminids, 20 sporadics, 2 December Leonis Minorids)

In this diagram of the inner solar system, all of the fireball orbits intersect at a single point--Earth. The orbits are color-coded by velocity, from slow (red) to fast (blue). [Larger image] [movies]

  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 15, 2013 there were 1446 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Recent & Upcoming Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
2013 XH17
Dec 11
7.1 LD
37 m
2013 XY8
Dec 11
2 LD
50 m
2013 XS21
Dec 11
0.2 LD
6 m
2013 XT21
Dec 11
1.1 LD
15 m
2013 XU21
Dec 14
6.2 LD
26 m
2011 YD29
Dec 28
6.1 LD
24 m
2007 SJ
Jan 21
18.9 LD
1.9 km
2012 BX34
Jan 28
9.6 LD
13 m
2006 DP14
Feb 10
6.2 LD
730 m
2000 EM26
Feb 18
8.8 LD
195 m
2000 EE14
Mar 6
64.6 LD
1.8 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.
  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
  the underlying science of space weather
Space Weather Alerts
  more links...
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