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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Solar wind
speed: 386.5 km/sec
density: 5.1 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2344 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A6
1857 UT Dec26
24-hr: A6
1857 UT Dec26
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2300 UT
Daily Sun: 24 Dec 10
The Earth-side of the sun has been spotless for six consecutive days. Readers with solar telescopes, pay attention to the circled region where a new sunspot might be emerging. Credit: SOHO/MDI
Sunspot number: 28
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 25 Dec 2010

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 7 days
2010 total: 51 days (14%)
2009 total: 260 days (71%)
Since 2004: 819 days
Typical Solar Min: 486 days

Updated 25 Dec 2010

The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 79 sfu
explanation | more data
Updated 25 Dec 2010

Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
Planetary K-index
Now: Kp= 0 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 1
explanation | more data
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 6.4 nT
Bz: 5.5 nT south
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2346 UT
Coronal Holes: 24 Dec 10
A solar wind stream flowing from the indicated coronal hole should reach Earth on or about Jan. 2, 2011--the first solar wind stream of the New Year. Credit: SDO/AIA.
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2010 Dec 26 2200 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: 2010 Dec 26 2200 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
10 %
05 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
20 %
05 %
05 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
Sunday, Dec. 26, 2010
What's up in space

These pictures are almost too hot to touch. Metallic photos of the sun make great Christmas gifts.

Metallic pictures of the Sun

QUIET HOLIDAY: Two small sunspots are emerging to interrupt a 7-day string of spotless suns. Nevertheless, solar activity remains low. Solar flares and geomagnetic storms are unlikely this weekend.

JUST WHAT THEY WANTED: Someone must have asked Santa for Northern Lights. Despite a week-long spate of magnetic quiet leading up to the holidays, the skies over Sweden turned green for Christmas:

Photo details: Nikon D700, Tokina 11-16 2.8, ISO 1600 and 8-10 second exposures

"When I saw the red glow in the snow and the green lights in the sky I could not help but grab the camera and snap a few shots of the Christmas colors," says photographer Chad Blakley of the Aurora Sky Station in Abisko National Park. "It was another great night in Abisko!!"

More auroras are in the offing, and this time Santa's assistance will not be required. A solar wind stream flowing from a coronal hole is due to hit Earth's magnetic field on Jan. 2nd. The impact could produce the first geomagnetic storm of the New Year. High-latitude sky watchers should be alert for auroras.

SUN IN A BEER CAN: Last July, Jan Koeman of Middelburg, the Netherlands, poked a tiny hole in an empty beer can, inserted a piece of photographic paper, and pointed the pinhole toward the sun. Six months later (Dec. 23, 2010) he extracted the paper and this was the result:

"This is called solargraphy," explains Koeman. "Every day the sun makes a track across the photographic paper--high in the summer and low in the winter. Daily tracks are interrupted by clouds and, occasionally, absent altogether because of rainy days." It's a low-tech but beautiful way to record the seasons; browse the links below for more examples.

more solargraphy: from Rijk-Jan Koppejan of Middelburg, The Netherlands; from Becky Ramotowski of Tijeras, New Mexico;

Lunar Eclipse Photo Gallery
[NASA: "Solstice Lunar Eclipse"] [astronomy alerts]

November 2010 Aurora Gallery
[previous Novembers: 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000]

  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 26, 2010 there were 1167 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Recent & Upcoming Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
2010 TQ19
Oct 8
9.6 LD
37 m
2010 TS19
Oct 10
3.7 LD
31 m
2010 TD54
Oct 12
0.1 LD
7 m
2010 TB54
Oct 13
6.1 LD
19 m
1999 VO6
Oct 14
34.3 LD
1.8 km
2010 TK
Oct 16
4.5 LD
37 m
1998 TU3
Oct 17
69.1 LD
5.2 km
2010 TG19
Oct 22
1.1 LD
70 m
1998 MQ
Oct 23
77.7 LD
1.9 km
2007 RU17
Oct 29
39.2 LD
1.1 km
2003 UV11
Oct 30
5 LD
595 m
3838 Epona
Nov 7
76.8 LD
3.4 km
2005 QY151
Nov 16
77.7 LD
1.3 km
2008 KT
Nov 23
5.6 LD
10 m
2002 EZ16
Nov 30
73.9 LD
1.0 km
2000 JH5
Dec 7
47 LD
1.5 km
2010 JL33
Dec 9
16.6 LD
1.3 km
2008 EA32
Jan 7
76.5 LD
2.1 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
Science Central
  more links...
©2010 All rights reserved. This site is penned daily by Dr. Tony Phillips.
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